Before a child with known special or as I like to say ‘extra’ needs designations enter school in my district, systems are in place to do everything possible to set up supports to help him/her transition successfully. Our district learning support team has worked out collaborative systems with previous professionals from health systems, preschools, and the like so that (with parent permission) information gathering meetings can take place in June with relevant previous and upcoming stakeholders such as Speech and Language Pathologists, Preschool Teachers, Occupational Therapists, Hearing Specialists, Parents, etc. to share information that will benefit the child and set up successful beginnings when the school year starts in September. These meetings begin with a discussion of the child’s strengths and gifts so we can begin in a place of capability for the child and do what we can to build on these strengths.
Then, in October, another meeting takes place with the classroom teacher, school personnel, and the parents to develop an IEP that will be reviewed again in May, before the year ends to revisit established goals set in October and make adjustments as needed so that when that child returns to school in September, there are again supports in place to do everything possible to ensure success as the child transitions to a new teacher and classroom community. It is also worth noting that in June, before the child in question leaves the preschool or home setting where s/he has been living and learning, resource teacher personnel will go in to observe the designated child in a setting comfortable to him/her (again with parent permission and agreement). Conversations ensue and help determine strategies that might help the child transition as successfully as possible to the Kindergarten environment.
Parents are a key part of successful inclusion. I look to my parents of children with extra needs to help me understand their children and to help guide my decisions about programming for success. I make myself available whenever possible for consultation as needed. I am a teacher who values all parent input greatly.
Having said this, I am also a teacher who believes that children with designations (aka children with ‘special’ or ‘extra’ needs) whenever possible ought not be singled out and viewed as ‘different’. As a result, I invite parents of all children in our classroom community to join us to help with activities such as driving for field trips, running science experiments, cooking activities, bingo games, reading, and etc. I don’t differentiate parents in the same way I don’t differentiate students in my class. Parents are always welcome and are a valued part of our classroom community.
- British Columbia’s Primary Program is an exemplary resource that did much to support the move toward our inclusive schools, and includes many research foundations to support its positions. The inclusive and child – centered philosophy underpinning this rich K-3 curriculum document is very clearly embedded throughout its pages and would provide interested parties an excellent sample of a living and breathing document, which educators all over our province live by. This document can be found on the BC Ministry of Education website at http://www.bced.gov.bc.ca/primary_program/.
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