From the perspective of a world-wide pandemic, the idea of inclusion becomes more important than ever before. It is now evident that every person in the world has the potential to impact the life of every other person in the world.
I am writing this article from the perspective of an inclusion advocate, and as an experienced teacher in Social-Emotional Learning inspired by the author and researcher, Brené Brown.
A difference, a point or way in which people or things are not the same. This is a topic that is consistently relevant during any stage of life.
What has been startling in these past few weeks regarding the pandemic we are facing is how indiscriminately the virus attacks human bodies: bodies that live in wealth and poverty, bodies that live in one nation or another, bodies that practice Christianity or Hinduism or Islam. It has become abundantly clear just how similar we humans are—and that this similarity is through our own biological fallibility is okay. There is much possibility here.
The past days have been unsettling for many as our daily activities, education, jobs, travels, and even finances are being impacted by the unparalleled consequences of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Early inclusion is defined as inclusion that begins in the preschool age. We are very lucky to have adopted this at ASFM. The benefits to early inclusion are endless, and apply for everyone.
“If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met ONE person with autism.” -Dr. Stephen Shore
When speaking about inclusion, author and researcher Lee Ann Jung’s name is often mentioned and her group www.leadinclusion.org defines it as learning “that facilitates equitable opportunities for all students, with and without learning differences.”
Celebrating diversity and inclusiveness is so much more than a change to titles or labels. Celebrating diversity and inclusiveness is about using holiday celebration time with friends and family to build understanding and awareness of others’ traditions and beliefs.
Sure we know that being a teacher involves being creative with teaching and supporting students. However, moving towards a more inclusive approach implies an even broader creative thinking in order to take into account every student's strengths and needs, the curriculum and the available (or not available) resources.
Books are a vehicle for learning about others and the world around us. Gaining exposure to different topics can lead to understanding, as well as build empathy. At times, it might be difficult to figure out how to most effectively start up a conversation with your child about a topic such as inclusion.
What words come to mind when you first think about inclusion?
Celebrating diversity and being an inclusive school helps everyone in our community to have open minds, caring hearts, and global leadership. To keep growing as an inclusive community, we must take a moment to reflect on how we refer to people with disabilities and become more conscious of our words.
Have you ever felt that you have had to make decisions influenced by other members of the social group you belong to? How to dress, despite of my comfort? What party to attend not being sure if I really want to attend? What to say, how to say it, regardless of if it goes against my beliefs and values? Even as an adult, these are conflicting questions I constantly ask myself on a day to day basis.
A couple of years ago, we started working on creating awareness about Inclusion as a mindset and how being inclusive is in everyone’s hands.
I have always felt proud to be an Eagle; since I was hired I felt happy to belong to a top school not only in Monterrey but of all Latinamerica. However, this pide and love for my school grew even stronger when it was announced, in 2015, that we were moving towards a more inclusive community.
As stated by Dr. Adams in his kick-off message, “the 2019-2020 school year marks the fifth and final year of our strategic innovation plan,” and it reiterates our commitment to the goals that drove our community’s decision to identify Diversity and Inclusion as one of the pillars of this plan.
One of the greatest lessons as an Inclusion Assistant has been how inclusive education benefits all of us. If we believe in the idea that every student can learn and grow, inclusion makes it possible for every student to receive what she or he needs to develop their skills to the fullest.
As we move toward inclusion becoming the norm at ASFM, Inclusion Assistants are proud and grateful to work as the professionals that facilitate this reality daily.
Last week the ASFM community celebrated Inclusion Week. It was a celebration of growth, learnings, and progress. The whole ASFM community was invited to participate and the response was overwhelming. The atmosphere felt energized, and our school was brimming with kindness.
When we hear the word Inclusion, we might think about embracing differences. However, it is much more than that. Inclusion really means to appreciate each other’s accomplishments and strengths in order to build a unified team or community, honoring each other’s differences.
This is the title of an article written by Geraldine Panelli (2019). In this article, she talks about the discomfort that she felt since she was a child whenever she saw evidence of discrimination, lack of empathy, selfishness and the need to judge others. This discomfort moved her to become better informed and curious about the things she didn’t understand.
t wasn’t always this way, but now these are phrases I often hear from my students.
I can recall the first week of school: questions, uneasy reactions, and struggles to adapt to certain behaviors while they first got to know each other. But there has been such a behavioral shift! Today, these students have learned to be caring, empathetic, accepting, and loving with friends who look, communicate, and act differently from what they'd known before in their short lives.
I was recently introduced to the term “Manifest Destiny”, by one of my daughters. I became totally in LOVE with the phrase. So many paths these words could lead me to….
Whether it is with fascination, awe, fear or curiosity, we have all done it. When we see something or someone that is too intriguing to look away from, we stare. Consciously or not, we hold our gaze uninterrupted and ignore everything while we focus our attention on this new phenomenon.
ASFM serves a diverse population of students from different backgrounds and learning profiles. Being an inclusive community is essential to make every student feel accepted, valued and loved. In order to continue growing as an inclusive school, it is important to help our children develop and increase their empathy levels.
Using the word tolerance in the context of diversity and inclusion is common, but society should strive for something greater than mere tolerance: acceptance.
In my role as a principal, I have the privilege of going into many classrooms, meeting with lots of students and speaking with adults (teachers and parents) about learning.
I was recently facilitating an ice breaker activity and asked the attendees to think about a time in their lives when they had experienced inclusion.
As the school year is beginning and our children face new environments and new challenges in different areas of their lives; have you considered how to best teach them how to be inclusive?
Dr. Martin Luther King stated very eloquently in one of his many powerful speeches, that “the time is always right to do the right thing.”
The Elementary Wellbeing Team’s purpose is to help all students in the areas of academic achievement, social/emotional development, and health to support students to become the productive, well-adjusted adults of tomorrow.
Welcome back to another amazing year at ASFM! I am looking forward to working with our whole learning community to deepen and expand our understanding of Inclusion and how it enriches the life and learning experiences of every community member.
This week's column on inclusion contains a link to information provided by the NAESP (National Association of Elementary School Principals).
On Tuesday, Dr. Jorge Eslava enlightened staff and parents in his conference on “Inclusion: Should we? Can we? Is it time?”
Part of the wonderful discussions that came out of the Open and Caring Inclusion Night for Parents, was the repeated question of what to say to our own children when a child in their class displays needs or behaviors that are visibly different. This article hopes to address that question.
For the very first time, a child with Down Syndrome has been chosen in the annual photo contest for the Gerber Baby (Gerber Baby Food). The world is changing and we are changing with it. In fact, ASFM is taking the initiative in global leadership in Inclusion.
Neuroplasticity is a change in the nervous system’s function and structure. Is the ability of the brain to adapt, make changes and work in a different way by connecting or creating new routes to neurons.
Inclusive School Week ™ is an annual international event celebrated the first week in December. It’s a time devoted to acknowledging the hard work and commitment of teachers, administrators, students, and parents in making their schools more inclusive and, thereby, significantly contributing to the development of a more inclusive society.
Two years ago, my perspective on diversity and inclusion changed overnight. My two-month-old daughter Eliana was diagnosed with 5p- Syndrome (also known as Cri du Chat syndrome).
Grit is not giving up or giving in. Grit is to follow your dreams despite obstacles, until they come true. Nowadays, our children live a life that’s regularly punctuated by grades, scores, and how talented they are. Expectations are somewhat above what human beings can possibly achieve. But talent alone will not actually make your dreams come true. Grit turns dreams into a reality.
As teachers and parents, we have the opportunity to change the world by educating the children who will become its leaders. Given such an enormous responsibility, we need to reflect carefully about the kind of individuals our world needs.
Empathy is indispensable for a safe and caring environment. We all need to grow in an environment where we feel loved, secure and accepted. Children who feel understood and valued in an empathetic community can stand confidently in the world and accept themselves building their skill of empathy.
“We should be more like children,” was a recurrent comment on a video by CBeebies, BBC children’s network, recently gone viral. The video features children, whose differences are obvious to the viewer, responding to what makes them different from each other. It is heartwarming to watch children overlook noticeable differences such as height, gender, race or disabilities, think for a while and then discuss food preferences, toe size, position on the soccer field, or whether squirrels live on their roofs. Is it that children are blind to differences?
Welcome back to another dynamic year of learning and growth at ASFM. I am very happy to share the Inclusion Action Plan for the upcoming year.
Have you ever asked yourself what would be the best gift you could give your child? The most common route to go is with what we might call the obvious...the best education, many wonderful vacations, making sure they have all they need in regards to trends (technology, video games, the newest and most beautiful toys), and off course, love. It is amazing how, as parents, we go around trying so hard to make our children happy. But what does that really mean?
Can you picture these scenarios? What would you think about these children? Unfortunately in many cases we are just very quick to judge and try to understand children’s behavior in terms of our own experiences or from our adult point of view, instead of trying to understand what the child is trying to tell us with his behavior.
When you think of autism, dyslexia and attention deficit disorder, what comes to your mind? What are we focusing on? Do we focus on the negative aspects of the disorders or the beautiful characteristics that these students possess? Let’s be honest, struggles and difficulties are real but instead of focusing on that, let's appreciate the positive. All of our kids have too much to offer.
At ASFM, we are proud to say we are inclusive. Being inclusive primarily means that we demonstrate an attitude that allows us to understand the uniqueness of each individual and their right to an education.
What do “fairness” and “success” really mean when we know that everyone is so different? Equality is giving everyone the same thing. Equity is giving everyone what they need to be successful.
There is a recent boom about positive thoughts, positive messages, and positive psychology in general. Some people agree and actually try to apply this everyday , following these messages, activities, and guidelines that society comes up with (yoga, mindfulness, fitness…). In social terms, we know some agreements that work as a foundation to promote positive social interactions. One of these agreements is to presume good intentions.
When I first heard the term Social Model of Disability I first had to understand what a Model of Disability was. The Michigan Disability Rights Coalition defines it as a tool for defining impairment and providing a basis upon which government and society can devise strategies for meeting the needs of disabled people.
“Inclusion” it is not placing students with disabilities or special needs in a general education classroom. INCLUSION means being able to adapt, incorporate, modify, accommodate and support, as a school community, all the individual needs of every child. This not only benefits students with disabilities , it also creates an environment in which ALL students, parents, and teachers have the opportunity to grow and learn from each other.
My inclusion story is about belonging. As a new family from another country coming to ASFM a couple of years ago, we were so nervous. My husband and I worried over whether our children would make friends, even with their cultural differences.
Inclusion is a way of living, acting, relating, interacting and thinking about others. Inclusion comes from a mindset that empathizes with different needs. It is accepting others the way they are by supporting and tolerating their differences. Those great differences that make us special and unique. What valuable and incredible words: SPECIAL and UNIQUE.
A key message I have always believed in is that the language we use to express ourselves shapes our own reality. Our words reflect our attitudes, which in turn, shape our actions. As we become more inclusive at ASFM, we must remember that the language we use has to reflect this.