Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Why Inclusion?

Often people ask why inclusion in classrooms? Inclusion is how we ensure that every child feels welcomed and that their unique needs and learning styles are appreciated, enhanced, and valued by their peers.  Inclusion does not mean that an educator must water down curriculum content and academic expectations.  Inclusion offers ample opportunities to enrich learning for all students, of all strengths and abilities.  Students learn to appreciate, not tolerate, members of their classroom community, and diversity becomes the learning environment in which children can grow and mature as more open minded, and caring individuals.

Our world is changing.  It brings with it the new face of technology, and social media, and complex issues faced by today's youth.  There is an immediate need to develop appropriate social skills that are often lost through the lack of personal interaction amongst many children.  A resource teacher can begin the process of developing social skills with his or her students, however, it is still a controlled and artificial setting of role playing, discussions, and analysis.  The classroom offers a multiplicity of opportunities to observe and implement appropriate social skills amongst peers. Inclusion and promotion of social skills will help turn back the clock of time. It will return us to the core values and leave the cyber world lost in space.

Students with learning challenges who are included in the regular classroom can display higher levels of social support from the majority of their peers.  At Maggie, we pride ourselves on doing things for others.  We are community citizens, and global citizens who understand the intrinsic value and positive self worth through helping others.  Students with special needs develop larger friendship networks through inclusion and learn appropriate social skills under the guidance of the classroom teacher.  The staff at Maggie realize that the benefits are mutual between students with challenges and those more fortunate not to have to struggle in certain learning environments.  Curriculum content and social skill development can go hand in hand when implemented on a regular basis in a classroom setting. 

It is through diverse teaching and assessment methods that educators can set up opportunities for peers to learn from each other and value one another for their uniqueness.  As educators, when we provide a social component to the academic day we help to foster collaboration, cooperation, and the understanding of other perspectives. We bring back the face-to-face conversational skills of listening, give and take responding, and appreciation for others.  In turn, we promote positive self-worth, and improved self-esteem. There is no child that will not benefit from a sense of being valued, being heard, and feeling like he or she matters in this world. All children need to feel like they belong. With collaboration and clear communication between the classroom and resource teachers, the regular classroom can become an optimal setting for meeting the needs of all learners. 

Post courtesy of Jindalee Webb

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this excellent post Jindalee, I couldn't agree more. Maggie is truely a special place for students. This work does not go unappreciated.