By Angela Vargas, Inclusive Learning Assistant
This week, 5F students learned about inclusivity. Thanks to the Values Committee, our students found out ways in which they could be includers, no matter our gender, nationality, beliefs, race, hobbies, etc. We started out by having them complete the following sentence: I am an includer when…
Some of their best answers were:
“I am an includer when… someone wants to hang out and I say yes”
“I am an includer when… I play with friends I don’t normally play with”
“I am an includer when… I let people play with me”
“I am an includer when… someone is sad and alone and I include them with me”.
After the lesson, in which they learned that in an inclusive environment, everyone is invited, everyone belongs, and everyone fits in, they came up with more ideas they could actually put into practice.
However, we did learn that sometimes, to show awareness of those who feel left out, we need to make an effort to include them, so as a final challenge, we asked them to choose one of the great ideas they just had and actually do it, that same day!
It was heartwarming to see that during dismissal, two girls (who actually don’t hang out that much) ended up playing Jenga together after one invited the other to join her.
This led me to the following conclusion: Inclusivity is especially important during this pre-teen and teen stage. They are starting to form their own sense of identity and they are still learning to build relationships with other people. Feelings of acceptance are important for adolescents who might face rejection based on their own uniqueness. Having a sense of acceptance and belonging is what lets them know that they are valued.
As teachers and educators, I believe it is our responsibility to continue building a community that fosters inclusivity and acceptance for ALL students, no matter their differences, so they can feel safe, valued and acknowledged. Continuing on building an inclusive community will encourage our students to grow to be empathetic citizens who care and respect others and who will work to create a better future for everyone, no matter who they are.
We need to remember that we are our student’s models and guides, and how we act now has a strong impact on who they will become in the future.
So my question to you is: Are you an includer?