As I read my RSS feed again tonight, I have discovered a wealth of information about inclusive classrooms. Before I discovered RSS, I would use the Google search engine to find information. Now, I have a multitude of information coming from diverse feeds. This beloved tool has become a source for professional development that is free and easy to access. I can read it on my Google Reader aggregator or on my mobile RSS feed on my iPhone. I can read it in small chunks in a non-linear fashion as needed. I can take a couple of minutes while I am waiting at the dentist or just before dinner. Although I tend to sit for more than a couple of minutes as it is so interesting.
Tonight I read Gayle Hernandez' post from the Inclusive Class. She shares her beliefs about inclusion:
· Inclusive environments do not happen by accident… They are created through careful planning and preparation.
· There are many steps to supporting all children that happen both in and out of the classroom, from Kindergarten to Grade 12. I am a Kindergarten teacher and as such am blessed with the opportunity to set up successful beginnings for all families – those with designated extra needs and without.
· I begin with the tenant that each child has blessings and strengths to bring. Children are strong and capable – not weak or with inherent deficits. All have areas that will require support to move forward. The point I want to make clear here is that I do not put my students with designations such as Autism, Learning Disabilities, ESL, behaviour and the like into a ‘special box’ in my head that will separate them from our classroom learning community. They all belong and it is my job to help each one of them become successful.
· I must modify my programming to accommodate the child and his/her needs. I have a child-centered approach to teaching and learning. There is curriculum to accomplish, of course – but it is my belief that in order to help children be successful in school I need to assess where they are then come up with a ‘doable’ plan to help that child move from where they are in their learning toward curriculum mastery. For each child this plan looks a bit different – designated special needs or not!
· The families of the children I teach are the first teachers and are to be valued and included in their children’s education.
· I do not work in isolation in my classroom. I continuously draw on the expertise of those around me to help when I hit a dead end and don’t know what to do next. I don’t have all the answers and grow stronger through collaboration with school based colleagues, our resource team, district experts, and of course parents too!
Had I never begun to use my RSS feed, I would never have found this information. I would not have followed this blog on a regular basis. I feel quite comfortable using RSS now and plan on sharing it with my teachers as an alternate to going away for Professional Development in these economically challenging times. I hope they fall in love with this type of learning as I have.