My reality over the last two weeks has been NUTTY!!!
At this point in the school year, I figured I was in a fairly consistent groove and that my schedule would not change too much over the next two months. I could not have been more wrong- I was thrown a curve ball that has put everything upside down and sideways :)
A new little monkey came my way- and monkey he is! He climbs HIGH, he runs far (and really fast), he is quick, and he has a very good arm! A day with this little guy has me sleeping soundly at night. BUT, my reality went from fairly consistent days- or at least having enough of a relationship with my students to redirect them (somewhat) easily when necessary. We were in a routine of how our class community works for all students.
Well, gone is our 'norm' and in comes a new 'norm'....I kind of feel like it is an exciting September all over again.....with a little pizzazz. BUT you know what? My other kiddos are amazing- they are rocking the changes (probably better than I am). They are following all their school routines and expectations. They are moving through the day as if this addition was always there- a few extra giggles and a little more time is needed for some things, but the students are awe-inspiring when it comes to change (BIG change).
WHY???? Despite throwing their schedules and routines up into the air (potentially), we are a community with clearly defined expectations, routines, and we work together. All members are valued differently, but fairly- and this is very clear to all of us.
I don't focus on benchmarks and outcomes (I know I know), I make a point to focus on the students as individuals. Who are they? Where are they? What are their strengths? What are their needs (immediate and future)? Where do they fit in our class (how can they confidently contribute)? All my students are unique individuals, BUT they are part of a learning community, our learning community.
Inclusion is NOT about benchmarks or one-size curriculum. Most of us are provided ONE curriculum for our grade- well, this is not ok. This is not going to benefit most of students- because inclusive classrooms are made up of individuals. All kiddos require support, some more than others, but a one-size curriculum does not always allow for the necessary supports for some students.
Rather, inclusion is about creating a community of successful, valued, participative learners who can be present in the learning community. Everyone requires support at some point- for varied lengths and varied levels, but all students require support. Our job as teachers, because we cannot control what the curriculum looks like, is to reach each and everyone of our students. All kiddos are learners- what they are learning will be different from other kiddos- but all kiddos are students. We need to remember this.
My latest and greatest kiddo needs extra time to develop an understanding of school and community expectations and to build relationships with us- BUT he is rocking it!
Right now, my reality is nutty- BUT it is amazing to see the power of an inclusive approach:
- strength in community (all students bring something valuable to the group and learn from one an other)
- individuality of each student is important and awesome. We need to foster the importance of being unique.
- consistency in routines and expectations supports a strong foundation for building inclusive classrooms