Thursday, May 19, 2016

All the Small Things

The full title of this post is All the Small Things (That We Do to Include All) but first I want to bring it back to 1999 when Blink 182 was all over the radio, my flared jeans were essentially bell bottoms, and we were talking seriously about how the turn of the century could mean Armageddon for us all! So before we get into inclusive practices, brew yourself some coffee, put your baseball cap on backwards, and enjoy the smooth, pop punk stylings of Mark, Travis, and Matt.


Is the upbeat skater pop surging through your veins? Good, now you're ready. Read the list below!


Oftentimes when we talk about inclusive practices and environments we mention co-teaching, accessibility, communication, cooperative learning, etc., etc., etc.  While we see these as giant, involved tenants of an inclusive environment, there are a lot of small, subtle ways to show anyone walking through the hallways that we value and include all our community members.

1. Both co-teachers' names are on the classroom door.
Inclusion and inclusive practices don't just pertain to individuals with disabilities. Inclusion means that every member of our community is valued and welcomed- this includes both the general education and learning specialist. When both teachers' names are on the door, this shows everyone who walks by that there are two educators that instruct all students in that classroom.

One of the coolest things happened at a school the other week. Two parents were speaking in front of the entire staff. Both parents introduced themselves as the mom of a student in Ms. __________ and Ms. ___________'s room. Totally unprompted, the parents clearly saw both co-teachers as their child's teacher and acknowledged this fact in front of the staff. 
     

2. Work in the hallway shows the abilities and talents of ALL.
One way to show that your school values and supports all is by sharing the varied work of students. Below are some hallway displays that showcase differentiated and modified work that highlight students working at all levels. Inclusive schools don't shy away from showing that students in the same class CAN and WILL produce work that looks different from one another. In fact, it's celebrated!

   
 

 
 3. Work in the hallways shows cooperative learning.
Here are examples of student products that were done in collaboration with one another.


 
4. Every staff member is working with students when you walk into the classroom.
Without sound, context, or any extra details you can clearly see that the two (or more) adults in the room are all interacting and engaging with students. Every general ed, learning specialist, and paraprofessional has a role and is busy playing it.


5. Diversity and individuality is acknowledged... in the hallways! 
Schools have students (and staff members!) that speak different languages, practice different religions, are members of the LGBT community, are different races and ethnicities, come from different cultures and identify in different ways. One of my favorite things to do is to walk around a school building and take pictures of examples of diversity being acknowledged and embraced. Here are a few snapshots!

   

   



What small things does your school do to include all members of its community?


Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Illinois Includes iPad Presentation

I promised that I would upload my presentation to my blog. Here it is! This is for any of you that attended my presentation on using iPads in the inclusive classroom. Enjoy!