Well, tomorrow is the day! The kiddos arrive for another school year. I know many of you have been back at school for nearly a month or more, but here in beautiful Nova Scotia our students return to the class tomorrow. A year full of fun, full of promise, and full of lots of learning.
School is all about the kiddos- yet, they are not the only ones learning. For teachers, each school brings about new students, new experiences, and new opportunities to grow our bag of tricks & bags of knowledge.
Learning does not just happen because you go through the motions of being exposed to new. Learning happens when we stop to think, reflect, and make sense of our experiences.
What is awesome about teaching in an inclusive environment is that it is a journey- not a destination! We can always learn more about supporting students and provide different supports to students. This does not mean that you are not inclusive if you are not doing everything, it is the exact opposite- you are an inclusive teacher because you are trying to do something. Remember- you only know what you know. However, you do not get off the hook because you don't know something. Just ask, just watch, just learn.
SO, how can you do this???
How can you make a change to continue your inclusive journey?
Here are 3 strategies that you can start implementing NOW to support your on your learning in an inclusive classroom.
1. Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone Learning happens when we are exposed to new situations, experiences, and perspectives. Remember how I mentioned you only know what you know above..... to keep 'knowing' you need to be exposed to new opportunities. These new opportunities will push you out of your comfort zone of knowing into an unfamiliar zone of learning.
2. Reflection As Practice Unfortunately, you are not going to just learn because you have been exposed to new experiences. To turn these experiences into learning, you need to reflect on each opportunity. Whatever works for you (the drive home, the dog walk, the long run after work, or taking a few minutes throughout the day), but it is important that you take the time to think about your day: what worked, what did not work, what frustrated you, and what made you throw your hands up. Pull in your colleagues to help you reflect on your new experiences. Maybe they went through it with you, went through something similar, or maybe they have no idea what you are talking about- BUT they can help you view these experiences through different lenses.
3. Build Relationships & Learn From Others Learning from others is HUGE!!! Inclusive communities are built on respect for others, valuing others, and being a part of a community. Other people help us learn, they help us grow, and they help us develop a more well rounded perspective in which our learning is rooted.
As you welcome your students tomorrow for day one or day 27, remember the importance of ensuring each kiddo feels welcome and valued in your inclusive classroom. Your students will never know what you know and what you don't know, but they will know when you are trying to support them and learning to support them.
Do not forget to click on the image above to learn more about each area in your free handout.