Blog Series: Inclusion in 299 Words or Less!

Inclusion is what the world needs, this I believe.

Inclusion is substantiated by research as a means to improve academic outcomes for all students, especially those with disabilities.  While academic gains are imperative, there are other benefits of inclusion – not easily quantified, yet equally as important.  I believe there are ethical and moral benefits to inclusion that are critical components in our global society.  

Quality inclusive practices begin with general and special education teacher collaboration for the purpose of anticipating and incorporating student-learning differences into instruction.  Through this simple act, teachers are modeling and honoring a respectful acceptance of differences.  Then, these teachers arrange flexible peer supports for process and product development resulting in a community of diverse learners, supporting and learning from each other while working collectively toward a common goal.  Soon, these students are sitting together in the cafeteria and developing friendships outside of school. 

Inclusion is natural for kids; it’s the adults who have to work at it.  We are taught at an early age to assist and support – from the time our younger siblings are born, to helping grandparents and eventually parents carry groceries, negotiate stairs or put on a sweater.  We teach, “It’s the right thing to do.”

Today classrooms are bigger and more diverse than.  Working together in exclusive homogeneous groups is no longer effective or efficient.  Inclusion is about strengths, awareness, respecting differences, persistent kindness and compassion.  We are preparing students for a world with conflicting beliefs and dangerous consequences.  Academic prowess is only one of the necessary critical elements for survival.  We must also coexist and retain our individual beliefs, yet work together to create peaceful solutions to conflict.  It’s the right thing to do.  Inclusion, I believe, is the necessary foundation.

TONI RIESTER-WOOD, PH.D.

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Cindy Frostad December 7, 2012

    We will know when true inclusion has been reached when we no longer need the word.
    When you think about it, the word inclusion infers exclusion.  The need to belong is a universal social  need.  A parent sends their child to school expecting their child will feel embraced for who they are and for who they can become.  When a child feels they belong, there is greater likelihood they will feel valued and therefore feel more motivated to succeed.  And we all know that educators and teaching assistants love engaged and motivated students. Positive synergy happens when individuals feel they belong. 
    This past week, there was a new development in the area of social inclusion in our high schools.  News arrived stating that Best Buddies Canada will be coming to dialogue with potential business partners in order to support the expansion of the Best Buddies program throughout our province.  Five years ago, there were no high school chapters in British Columbia.  One of our district  high schools, (which won a national award in 2010) partnered with a high school from an adjoining town to become the first two Best Buddies Chapters in the province of BC.  Today, there are 24 high schools with these high fun-factor, leader-creating, friendship-matching programs. 
    It is exciting to know that next week, the national Executive Director will arrive to solicit engagement from the community. It means that more individuals throughout BC will begin to share the experience of what it is like to feel socially included and engaged in their school experience. More students will have the opportunity to develop leadership skills. More school environments will become better aligned to natural inclusion.  And, 'inclusion' efforts will have moved one step closer to realizing the true meaning of the word.
    Wishing you the best.
    Cindy Frostad BFA, BEd
     

  • Lauri December 9, 2012

    Wonderful post about the benefits of inclusion!

    • Merilyn F. Fonte, RN, MSN July 13, 2013

      Thanks for ISN. My daughter with CMT on wheelchair is graduating, a BS Arch at DLSU-D Cavite Phil. Her proposed thesis as approved is Inclusive Elementary Educ. Glad to know that support to this very challenging project is worldwide.  May I know how extent the support may be?  May we request also for the program details to consider for the building design?  Thank you so much. God bless us all. Excited to hear from you very soon.

       

  • Shari Krishnan May 14, 2013

    As my son took the inclusive journey, preK-12 grades, my husband and I were astounded at how hard this journey would be. Although we fully believed in inclusive communities, and that notion is postured and supported through our schools, we never would have dreamed that there would remain so many obstacles, even today!  Thank goodness for the good guys out there, for they are great! It is those great people who modeled an inclusve way of life for the students.

    Now that my son is 21 years old, it is those students, who were mentored by the great role models in high school; who remain in touch with my son and share friendships that we are confident will last a lifetime. 

    The biggest payoffs from inclusive education are lifelong, extending well past high school graduation. We remain grateful to the terrific people who stood by my son, believing that what they were advocating for was natural, correct, and important. It showed us what being human and caring was all about.

    Thanks to all!

     

    Shari Krishnan, RN, MA

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