Please comment and share your school’s plan…
I’m writing to share a local parent’s very recent experience, and our communities suggestions to him, in the hopes that it helps parents elsewhere work through some of these issues.
An inclusion parent in our district has been trying to work with his Principal to build inclusion resources at their school, and has been encountering a lot of resistance and apathy.
I hate to hear stories about this that center around Principals especially, as I firmly believe that it is a core part of our Principals responsibility as educators and leaders to proactively champion inclusive community.
This parent was thwarted on two fronts: rejection by staff of an inclusion parent group that he started, and dismissal of his attempts to plan and implement Inclusive Schools Week (ISW) at his school.
Regarding the latter, I’ll comment, as a parent who has had sucess, that the idea of ISW is a nicely packaged tool to build inclusive schools. BUT, it also is not well known and therefore often is greeted with skepticism. It’s just another illustration of the fact that we parents are not only working hard to find a path for our kids’ success, but are having to be leaders and advocates for change in our schools and communities amidst a population with a large variance of understanding. As an example, our school district has been very sluggish in implementing ISW on a broader scale and instilling its importance, providing uninspiring resources too late in the game for schools to really plan and implement a program.
Due to the state of schools in the U.S. at this time, including a lack of adequate professional development around inclusion, all of this requires positive parent involvement—including strategic planning, volunteer hours, cohort building, teacher support, etc.—to make it happen and give it legs to grow.
Here’s the advice our struggling friend has been given to date—please feel free to comment with other constructive thoughts.
…what’s your school’s plan for 2012 Inclusive Schools Week, 12/3-7?
It can be as simple as your Principal gathering the school together and giving a motivational, positive talk about being an inclusive, welcoming community. Or sending a themed email expressing the value of inclusive community at school and in life.
Or you can step it up at your school by organizing ability awareness activities, art and writing projects, an assembly, themed readings in your library and classrooms, a screening of a film, etc.
I’d be thrilled beyond belief if many of you did just one small thing at your school during Inclusive Schools Week (ISW) to celebrate, nurture and/or communicate about inclusive community. It’d be even better if you wanted to share your plans, and/or stories, anecdotes and photos on this blog after the fact!
Find out more about ISW, and get ideas and resources, in my ISW section and archives, check out my links sections, or visit Inclusive Schools Network. Feel free to write with questions or for more information.
As for me, we’re in year three of celebrating ISW at our elementary school, and I’m so fortunate to have the commitment and partnership of our Principal, teachers and staff. Our 2012 plan as it’s coming together follows!
- Creation of all-school art & writing installation
- Themed library readings; in-class readings & videos
- Morning Circle: student council ISW introduction
- Ability Awareness Activities: day 1
- Morning Circle: 4th/5th grade class affirmations
- Assembly: Todd Parr (author, “It’s Okay to be Different”)
- Ability Awareness Activities: day 2
- Morning Circle: 5th grade class presentation
- Morning Circle: themed sing-a-long led by Miss Rhonda Crane
- Family Feast Potluck – all-school celebration of family traditions & cultural backgrounds
Hello. Well it seems that, even though I’ve been quiet, folks out there are still using the blog as a resource, which is great!
To be honest, I have been considering shutting down this blog, as I can’t seem to carve out the time and energy to post. Special needs parents will understand the scarcity of extra time in our lives, and that, when that time opens up, we don’t always want to spread ourselves thinner and focus on the challenges we juggle.
In that same vein, I stepped down from my role as Co-Chair of Inclusive Schools Week (ISW) for SF Unified School District this year. I hope that parents with fresh energy will get involved, to continue the work of building inclusive school communities at all levels – elementary, middle and high school.
2012 ISW is December 3-7! SF parents interested in participating should contact Regina Piper at SFUSD soon, and get the ball rollling.
I will be continuing to lead a robust ISW program at our school…we’re already planning!
Check out the article about our Inclusive Schools Week published in today’s San Francisco Examiner!
…these were just a few of the inspired, spontaneous expressions from students as they watched the fabulous AXIS Dance Company perform their contemporary, physically integrated dance at our all-school assembly today for Inclusive Schools Week.
Me and all the other adults in the room were right there with the kids’ enthusiasm…it was infectious, and made the performance all the more fantastic.
For my part, seeing AXIS perform in front of kids heightened the awe I’ve experienced when seeing them on stage, most recently when I took my son to their 2011 Home Season where they debuted a newly choreographed piece. It was a poetic and powerful performance of modern dance and we were glued to our seats.
But there was something more to seeing them today amidst youthful exuberance—where you involuntarily and freely verbalize your amazement in the moment—as opposed to sitting in your seat in a dark theater and keeping those feelings quiet as most of us do when we attend a performance. Simply, it was very, very cool.