By Laurie Behan, Director of Support Services
Welcome back to a brave new year at ASFM! There is still a world of good to come out of Inclusive Learning at ASFM, and I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge and thank all of the staff members who are committed to Inclusion. They are the Team that makes the Dream.
Today I would like to talk about Inclusion Assistants - staff members who go largely unnoticed by most, but are hugely appreciated by the students, staff and families with whom they work. Most parents don’t realize that Inclusion Assistants are a benefit to every classroom in which they work, because they work with all students. They make sure to meet the needs of their assigned student, but at the same time, encourage and support social interaction, responsible behavior and positive work habits in the whole class.
This year is particularly challenging for students who rely on IA assistance. The elbow to elbow support that is necessary to the success of some students is compromised with distance learning. Students with a broad range of needs - physical, cognitive, attention, social, emotional or executive function do not have the same access to instant physical prompting through gesture or look. Voice is extremely important.
To ensure engagement with distance learning, IA’s have to be super creative - adapting lessons and creating additional or alternative offline activities to give students the opportunities they need to progress. IAs work with teachers, admin and support services to design lessons and activities that will stimulate and engage all students. They are advancing best teaching practice by always looking for better solutions.
I hope the entire ASFM community will look upon our highest needs students, and those that support them, as trailblazers and champions for excellence in teaching and learning. As we move forward, we have lots to be excited about. Inclusive practice will continue to grow and develop, and enrich all aspects of life as an Eagle at ASFM.