Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Indicators of Inclusive Schools

On Saturday I had the distinct pleasure and honor of presenting with two wonderful people: Renee Laporte (@beyondthecrayon) and Nathan Devlin.  This dynamic duo have worked together for many years as Nathan negotiated the education system with the support of Renee.  First of all, you need to know that we presented at #Redcamp14 which has become an annual gathering of educators from Alberta who meet to discuss current needs.  In the morning I joined a conversation about High School ReDesign. What exciting times are ahead for children in high school!  Next I joined a conversation about Equity in the schools and watched a video of Stephen Murgatroyd:
It gave us great points for discussion and we looked at the GERM framework vs the EQUITY framework.
Another opportunity to take part in an excellent discussion.

Finally in the afternoon the three of us presented the Indicators of an Inclusive School package.  We looked at the five dimensions of an inclusive school and Nathan shared the indicators in each dimension that he thought were the most important.  We talked about the importance of looking at our assumptions around inclusion.  It is so easy to say, "I believe in inclusion so long as the student can manage in my classroom."  But we forget that all behaviour has a function of communication.  Every behaviour has meaning and it is up to us to figure out what that meaning is.  It isn't up to the student to measure up.  We talked about how students with significant needs must repeatedly prove their right to a classroom while all other students can simply be there as their "right to education."

Students with "behaviours" have reasons for their behaviours.  Yes, they are difficult to work with but imagine their world, their needs, their turmoil...  Unless we try to step into their world and the world of their parents, we cannot begin to understand and meet their needs.

We talked about the need to engage parents and how that was different from interacting with parents.  We have to get past the activities we get parents to "do" such as book parent, fieldtrips, and such.  To truly engage parents, we need to have dialogues that get to the depths of their child's education and needs.  We need to really listen to parents' hopes and dreams for their children and include this in their IPPs.

Nathan made the biggest impact, I think.  His voice and his choice of important indicators of an inclusive schools.  He made it clear what would need to happen for a school to be truly inclusive.

Should you take a look at this tool, you will find surveys to give to all stakeholders to start the process. You will find a tool that will help your staff examine their own assumptions and barriers to true inclusion in the school.

After figuring out the barriers, a tool is provided to create an action plan or IPP for your school.  You can create goals for each dimension along with room for objectives and strategies to insure your school meets its goals toward inclusion.  It is a fine, yet rather unknown tool that has been updated recently by Alberta Ed.

This summer I look forward to figuring out a way to introduce this tool to all principals in our district through a series of tip sheets.  I hope this series will help folks in our district to examine their underlying assumptions about inclusion, face them and move forward for all of our students.

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