Inclusive Education (Feb. 2017)

By: Kate Jacobs, Inclusive Instruction Specialist

Students with learning differences are often compared to their peers. We measure their success based off this comparison which is not fair. It intensifies the gap which makes it easy for us to say that the student does not belong with their peers, but instead we need to look at  individual student growth, and measure their progress based off their own data. If we do this we are looking at student growth via a different lens. A lens that supports inclusive education to where all students receive an educational experience that is rigorous, engaging, and motivating. 

Our world is divided into many different sub-groups of people. It creates a divide that supports prejudice, racism, and limits our ability to see outside of our comfort zone. As educators we are responsible for breaking down these barriers, and teach students to look at everyone as individuals, and to put the person first- not their disability. It is important as a team to ask: Is this student making progress? Does this student have friends? Is this student part of the community? Do I expect this student to be an important member of the society? Do I expect this student to have a job? Do I expect this student to go to college? We all need to strive to educate our students to believe that we all have incredible talents to offer. It is our responsibility as educators to believe that all students need to be given the opportunity to learn with their peers, and if they cannot then the goal will always be how can we support them so they can. 

How do we educate students to to be good citizens, caring individuals, and an excellent team member that works hard and does not give up? The answer is us. We are the models that students emulate. We send messages every day that provide a foundation for students. We believe in you, we don’t give up, and most importantly we all have a right to be part of the team!  Inclusive education is much more than comparing data. We believe every student can make a positive contribution, and most importantly we believe all students will.
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