Words. They have power. When you talk about inclusion, your opinion shines through in the words you speak. How you respond to a child who is asking for help, how you talk to paraprofessionals in your room, how you talk when working with colleagues. Words have power. At values.com the quote of the day talks about the different powers of words; the power to build up or tear down, the power to motivate or de-motivate and so on.
Today, I had the distinct privilege of teaching the grade 5/6 English class for the morning while the teacher attended a Leader in Me symposium. When it came time to do Social Studies, the teacher had left plans that she had already done with the class (it has been a crazy week at our school), so I had to improvise.
We read the quote of the day and did a 2 minute brain drain about what it meant to each of them. We shared and then did a 2nd brain drain to compare if hearing others impacts our own thinking. They felt hearing other students definitely had an impact. It was interesting to hear some of the thoughts; around being hungry, around friendships, around anger, around fear of being hurt. Everyone had a story of how words affected them. Everyone. was. included.
Next, we moved to a discussion about how a simple six words could be powerful enough to show the reader about the writer. It was exciting to see EVERY student engaged as they could write at the level they were at.
Here are the six word stories from the grade 5 students at my school (prepare to be amazed!):
Be the light when everything's dark.
I can be an awesome pastor.
I am an epic computer genius.
My family is always most important.
I believe anyone can be anything!
I am very good at swimming.
I believe I can do better.
I believe my life is beautiful.
I have a very good attitude. (and he does!)
Lying is never the right answer.
I WILL be a soccer player.
I am good at video games.
I love playing hockey and soccer.
Life is amazing when you believe. . . .
I believe I can learn well.
I live for what I believe.
Days without laughter are days wasted.
I am awesome and love electronics.
I believe anyone can be loved.
I believe everyone had great imagination.
I am smart, kind, beautiful, funny.
I am nice, intelligent, happy, loving.
Life's too short; live it courageously.
I live with all my heart.
If that didn't just fill your bucket, I don't know what will. As you might have noted, everyone could participate at the level of their ability but the results were all stunning. They truly matched the writer and everyone left feeling successful. Can you pick out the child on the Autism Spectrum? Can you pick out the children with "learning disabilities?" Can you pick out the children who are learning English for the first year? Can you pick out the child who plays alone? Can you pick out the child who struggles in other ways? Probably not and you would likely be surprised at who wrote what!
Another great day for inclusion. . .