I looked and was surprised the last post I wrote was January 2. Where has the time gone? It has been a very busy month of meeting with schools and moving the work forward. I had a lovely chat with a teacher who teaches in a Strategies class. This is a segregated class for students with identified learning disabilities. She was excited to tell me she would graduate a student out of her class because he had all the necessary strategies to be successful in his community school. When I said that was great that the student wasn't a "lifer" in a segregated class, she expressed that there were two or three more who would soon be ready to leave.
I think that was the idea of segregated sites in the past. We would help students find the strategies needed to make it in the community classroom. That is not what many segregated sites have become. They have become holding places for students who have no hope to be back with their peers.
I had another conversation in the past month with a principal about a new student who arrived at his school from another site (a behaviour site whose principal didn't think he belonged in). This principal had dropped him in his opportunity class ( a class for students with an full scale IQ between 50-75). This student didn't belong here either. So after reviewing the student's files and completing some additional assessments, it was clear this student was on the Autism Spectrum and would need support in the classroom. The principal's first questions was, "What Autism site can he go to?" My answer was that it was important for the principal to share with the family that the community school was the first suggestion. This was a bit of a surprise for him. I am surprised that this would be a surprise today. BUT it still is. We are so quick to want to move a student with any disability elsewhere than the regular community classroom. I could only share the success stories I know with regards to students with needs in my regular classrooms and how they grew both academically and socially by being in a classroom with their peers.
My hope is that through regular discussion and education, I can change some of those opinions and understandings and move all of our principals (because we do have very inclusive schools too!) toward thinking more inclusively.