Tomorrow Is Too Long to Wait for Inclusion

5 Videos That Will Change Your Mind About Inclusive Education

Axel

I don’t know which side of the fence you are on in regard to inclusive education. And for all intents and purposes…it does not matter. This post could just as easily have been called, No…Really…I’m Not Crazy…Inclusive Education Works! Usually when I talk to people who are not familiar with the idea of having students with disabilities (including significant disabilities) in the general education setting they say they are having a hard time “wrapping their head around it” or want to see “what it actually looks like”. So…just for those of you who need to see it to believe it, I have picked out five videos that will most definitely change your mind about whether inclusive education is really a good thing or not (or at least they should).

Including Issac

Including Isaac from Kala Project on Vimeo.

including isaac | a kala project from Bradley Productions on Vimeo.

Including Issac is a 13 minute video about a boy with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) and his story of inclusion in a private Christian school in Michigan. It takes commitment from a school on all levels to make inclusion work for students with significant disabilities and this a clear example of how coming together for the benefit of one student can benefit all students. Watch this beautifully filmed and powerful video.

Damian’s Inclusion Project

This video was made by the Georgia Department of Education (2011) to highlight a pilot inclusion program for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities in cooperation with Cobb County Schools. I am currently working on a follow up video to show how Damian is progressing through his 4th grade year (slated Fall of 2014). He is currently included for all segments in general education.

Thaysa

Thaysa from Dan Habib on Vimeo.

Thasya Lumingkewas, 8, has autism and thrives at Maple Wood Elementary School in Somersworth, NH. The school has implemented Response to Intervention (RtI), Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) and Universal Design for Learning (UDL). This film highlights the power of presuming competence, differentiated instruction and augmentative and alternative communication.

Tana Vogele’s Story

Every year since Kindergarten, Tana Vogele has been included in general education classrooms despite her significant physical and intellectual disabilities. Watch this compelling video about the friendships that have been nurtured during her 4th grade year and what inclusion does to a classroom and school community.

Axel

AXEL open captioned FINAL HD 1080p from Dan Habib on Vimeo.

This short film (16:39) focuses on Axel Cortes and the staff at Idelhurst Elementary School in Somersworth, NH. Axel is a fifth grader with autism who is non-verbal and exhibited significant behavioral challenges when he arrived at school. Axel came to Idelhurst during his 5th grade year from another school where he was exclusively in self-contained settings and was being taught preschool/kindergarten level. Through effective implementation of supports – including AAC, UDL, RtI, social stories, visual schedules and positive behavioral supports – Axel was able to learn 5th grade general education curriculum in a general education classroom within a few months. His challenging behaviors also decreased, and he thrived through interaction and engagement with ‘typical’ peers. Once Axel had an effective means of communication, the staff found that Axel was was bilingual and bi-literate (his family speaks Spanish at home).

This film illustrates the potential for students with significant cognitive disabilities to achieve high academic outcomes. The film has received support from the National Center and State Collaborative (NCSC).

The video shows how Axel accesses his environment via Augmentative and Alternative Communication as well as how his classmates accept him into their community. Watch how Axel is learning to type independently and makes strides with communicating his wants and needs in the general education setting.

Sometimes we need to see examples of inclusion to really understand that it is possible and happening all over the world. Perhaps you are the one who can influence your local school to implement inclusive practices.

 

We Need All Educators On-Board With Inclusion

circleseducatorsA version of this article was originally published on the Kids Included Together (KIT) blog.

I cannot believe that inclusion has been mandated for 35 years! I only have 8 years teaching experience, but in those 8 years, not one seminar or staff meeting or staff development or teacher collaboration topic has even remotely touched the subject of inclusion. WOW!

When thinking about the “biggest” challenges to making inclusion work, I honestly think it boils down to the administration and teaching staff’s attitude toward it. The environment, community, and over all “feeling” the school builds and portrays to its students and families, ultimately comes from within the heart and soul of that school- the people there to educate your child.

All students should be seen as individuals who are unique. No two students are the same. We all bring strengths and weaknesses to the table and we should be held accountable and celebrated for both, disability or not. Often, teachers are grossly undervalued and that plays a part in the way they view their job and in their openness to change. Teachers have the awesome responsibility to shape and mold a child’s educational path. Let’s do our best to make it positive! Let’s look back on the year that stretched you further than you thought you could possibly go, and smile, knowing you did everything in your power, to help your students grow. What a blessing! What a positive role model you can be for the children of the future! A positive attitude is contagious and sets the tone for your classroom.

Just as a teacher’s demeanor sets the classroom tone, a principal’s demeanor sets the school’s tone. Administration has the responsibility of making their school great! Including, accepting, and embracing your student population is key. Doing what you say, and saying what you mean, is a recipe for success. A principal that supports, encourages, and works side by side with his or her teachers, is creating a happy place. Teachers want to know that the work they are doing, taking chances and hopefully reaching every student, will be supported. Even with the amount of challenges a school goes through in a year, if everyone has the “we can do this” attitude, administration, teachers, and parents alike, the school is setting itself up for success. We have the ability to create that environment. We have the ability to make all students who walk onto that campus feel “included”. We need to make sure everyone is “on-board” with inclusion.

By Christie Pagel (3rd grade teacher and inclusion advocate)

Photo Credit:  readerwalker

#TeamInclusion Google+ Hangout #002: What Do I Do When There Are No Inclusive Options?

For this installment of our #TeamInclusion Hangout, we tackle one of the toughest questions that parents face when they desire to have access to inclusive education. What if there are no options? Our #TeamInclusion community discusses ways to handle this obstacle and ideas for inclusion through various extra-curricular activities. We even get a little sidetracked talking about the…

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#TeamInclusion Google+ Hangout #001: Is Inclusion Really For Everyone?

  Every month the Google+ Community #TeamInclusion tries to get together to discuss issues related to inclusive schools and communities. Here is the first installment. Here are a few questions we discussed that night: 1. Is there one definition of inclusion? If so…what is it? 2. Is real, authentic, and meaningful inclusion possible? 3. What…

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