Thursday, 19 April 2012
I had the distinct pleasure to sit in on a meeting with two parents, two teachers, one educational assistant and two mental health nurses to discuss one student. We met to discuss the progress of this youngster who had recently received a specific diagnosis that rose out of his significant challenges. Parents were wondering how everything was going and brought along the mental health nurses to support this transition to our school.
You know in many case conferences I have sat in on, there has been a tense atmosphere as parents and teachers see each other as "us" and "them." This was NOT the case for this meeting. It was wonderful to listen to the parents share, listen to the EA share, and then listen to the teachers share this little guy's strengths and subsequently observing the team working together to problem solve to meet this student's needs and areas of challenge. It was clear all parties left the meeting feeling positive, realizing that every single person in the meeting had this student's best interest at heart.
If only every situation were the same. What a wonderful world of inclusion for all students we would see!
I was so impressed at this meeting as teachers listened, really listened, to the experts - the parents - who know their child best. As well, the parents listened carefully as school staff shared their ideas. Finally, the mental health nurses applauded the efforts being made and offered their expertise about the specific disorder. Such positive teamwork and what an example for other staff at the school as we navigating the journey of inclusion. We were a TEAM!
Gayle Hernandez, special educator, talks about the importance of working with home and school to facilitate successful inclusion and says,
· 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!
She realizes the value of parents and school staff working together, along with the community experts.
I was so encouraged by this positive meeting and further encouraged when I received an email from the mom the next day stating how great she felt after the meeting, knowing that her son was in a place where everyone cared for him as a student and a person. What more could a principal ask for??