Thursday, 2 January 2014

Looking Back or Looking Forward


There are times I look back and hang on for dear life to the wonderful accomplishments of 2013.  I love to reflect on the growth shown by staff to embrace all students, including those with identified disabilities - the "aha" moments when staff realized the tics and anxieties in Tourette Syndrome could not be controlled and it wasn't just behaviour after all! - to the joy when a little one with Autism signed his first sentence (because we knew he could do it all along!) -to the moment a teacher showed me the writing of student who used Word Q to produce a full page of writing when "he would not even attempt a sentence before!" - to the excitement of a class doing a Mystery Skype for the first time with Krissy Venosdale's class in the US (even though a student blurted out 'Canada' because of his excitement!) - to viewing the Storybird created by a student who was SOOOO reluctant to write - to seeing the total engagement of the grade 3 students taking part in two Genius Days while the grade 4s went to Drumheller on their annual trip (I had to teach them something!) - to one student with severe sensory issues taking part in gym (because we let him address it at his own pace) - to grade 6 Leadership students using the bus borrowed from a neighboring junior high to make the trek down to Calgary for We Day and their complete excitement about changing the world when they returned! - to our super fantastic, amazing, cool, and brilliant Leadership Day  and our first ever Leadership Luncheon as part of the Leader in Me Program - to our Morning Mile daily walk (the first school in Canada to take part!)- to the completion of identifying our essential learning outcomes and collaborative planning for student success as part of goal to become a professional learning community - to expanding our intervention time in the gym (all students in the gym with me so teachers could work with individuals or small groups who did not understand outcomes being taught)- to all of the amazing things that happened in our school journey throughout the year.

I took a course about Assistive Technology and learned so much about how to give students their voice! I am so excited by this learning that I just want to share with everyone (and some might think I am a bit crazy when I give them all the new tech ideas I have!!).

All that and I accepted a new position with the district that offered a wide variety of new opportunities to spread the message of inclusion.  What a year!  In the first four months of my new position I have had the good fortune to visit many schools and classrooms.  I have been able to offer suggestions based on my past experiences and have had rejection of such suggestions (because "we already tried that before - it didn't work").

There are times when I want to just revel in what has been and stay there, enjoying the ambience of success (of course, forgetting all the hard work that got us there!).  But I know I must forge ahead.  I am excited to look forward at the work our team is doing with the ISP classes.  I look forward to working with folks in my PLN to make these learning spaces better for students, complete with real learning to be had!!  I look forward to working with teachers and educational assistants as we work to make each classroom a welcoming space for all learners in our district - for equitable education for each and every child who walks in the door of our school.

I look forward to working with Renee Laporte to explore the creation of a whole school inclusion "IPP" and to present this idea to other "thinkers" at Redcamp2014.  I mean, what a concept - something beyond a simple checklist to see if your school is really inclusive.  Paula Kluth gives a great list of Must Haves to be an inclusive school, but how could a school write this as an IPP complete with goals to work toward? I am excited to work with Renee to explore the possibilities.

I am sure this will be a great year, both personally and professionally as I seek to expand my horizons, to dream as I never have before and to work with a vast array of educators for equity in education.

A book I am excited to dive into this year is "Rethinking Equity - Creating a Great School for All" by J-C Couture and Stephen
Murgatroyd.  
This book, authored in Alberta, promises to demonstrated that any change in Alberta schools needs to be systematic and draws comparisons to schools in Finland.  Should be a great read as our government proposes an inclusive education system complete with equitable learning for all.  I am interested to hear the opinions of the authors (whose book was supported by the ATA) regarding what steps the government is taking to create such an inclusive environment.


I am not sure where my path will lead this year but I know that I can only see change happen if I step off my beaten path, if I try new things, if I expect that sometimes I might fail and that is okay because I will learn!

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