This last week, Renay had gotten into some more curriculum. Not necessarily a new book on the horizon yet, though she has said she is preparing a new publication for Inclusion From Square One. It’s been way too long and there is a lot to say.
February is one of the shortest months. And normally, we would have been off this week and next week as well, but we sort of honestly: forgot. February is too short to have holidays or as many as happen during February.
How to get Inclusive?
For a while now, Renay has dabbled in conversations about Inclusive Education. For the first time though, last week, she was smack dab in the center of a conversation that was clear that folks surrounding Renay, while having been told about inclusive education, still were not convinced or even truly ready to make that transition. And Renay plans on talking about this more with Inclusion From Square One shortly. But this continued conversation has been weighing on our minds.
Campus life at any age is a collaborative, social activity. There are boundaries to be had certainly, but when everyone is a community, the students see that and respond to that care. Inclusion is not something paraeducators have a lot of control over. In small circles, particularly involving students, certainly there is an inclusive effort made by many paraeducators on behalf of their student. But there is one last place that paraeducators need to be inclusive. And it’s the place we all expect it the least: with other staff.
It might be hard with some staff. How often does that staff, especially at secondary, come into contact with a student with disabilities? Some happen quite often. Others rarely if ever. And though there may be real reasons why students may not be enrolled with that teacher, what does that teacher know about you? What do you know about that other teacher?
Knowing about each other as a staff isn’t a power play. It is about building professional understanding. However, some folks take getting to know others rather brusquely and the litany of ice breakers have not necessarily garnered a variety of support between teachers. So how does one get to know other teachers across campus?
You say ‘hi’. With no pretense. No follow up. Maybe a smile if you can pull it together daily. It’s just a doorway. And in some campuses: this is really hard. But if you keep trying the path gets laid one stone at a time. You will find allies and eventually, those hesitations will come down. It is not overnight most times and that part can be frustrating.
Inclusion is not just about the students. Although that is very much our focus. At the end of the day though, it will be your coworkers who understand the need to smile and laugh every time a student tells you they ‘hate you’. It will be your coworkers who back you up when you make a call about a student’s level of participation. And certainly, it will be your coworkers, both teachers and other staff, who will help you with those behaviors that need readdressing.
We have said these words before. We say them weekly, we say them yearly. Set the example you need the students to follow, and the rest builds in itself.
Before we go
We hope those who celebrate the Lunar New Year are enjoying their celebrations, even if they are muted compared to other years. May we be able to return and have the family gathering soon.
For those who are on ski weeks/February break, may you enjoy the week off.
Do you have any comments about this week’s blog? Do you have a question for us? Would you like to have an opportunity to pilot some materials at your campus? Find ParaEducate online here, here, here, here, and on our website. ParaEducate is a company providing materials, information, and strategies for people working in special education inclusion settings for grades K-12. ParaEducate, the blog, is published during the academic school year on Mondays, unless a holiday or announced day off. ParaEducate shares their findings at conferences, through their books, and their academic adaptations.