I attended a PD session on Friday put on by Inclusion Alberta. The presenter: Shelley Moore. I was looking forward to the day as I had seen her TedTalk and was familiar with her style and content. I knew she would be interesting and engaging; what I didn’t expect was a day of deep thinking and introspection. She provokes a paradigm shift.
Shelley challenged us to consider the gap between what we say inclusion is and what the practice actually is within our schools.
Contrary to some practice, inclusion is more than physical integration. Physically forcing people into the same school or the same room, does not equal inclusion. Individuals may be integrated into your setting, but do they truly have a role, feel a part of the group and make contributions to the group? If we’re honest, not always.
Sometimes, in my role, I see the budgetary constraints that affect the workings of inclusion. Often, the students with the most challenging needs are put in the hands of people with no experience dealing with these needs – through no fault of their own. If we expect our EAs and our teachers to meaningfully meet the needs of students with significant cognitive or physical disabilities AND meet the needs of all of the other students in the class, we must support our staff with appropriate training.
Then, we proceed with the belief that all students can learn. Our job is not to fix kids; this implies there is something in need of fixing! Our job is to educate kids: providing supports for all students to ensure their educational experiences – both academic and social – are meaningful.
As Shelley emphasizes, you don’t do inclusion, you live it. One step at a time.