Sunday, April 17, 2011

Inclusion is Belonging

 This weeks article was from the book entitled Schooling Children with Down Syndrome by Christopher Kliewer.
I'm not really sure where to start this week. I'm trying to take my time with this post...I don't wanna force out anything...Because when you force out an idea, you get text, when you take your time, you get soul. I liked this article, I think mostly because my intended major is to teach children with special needs. Anyways...I am running out of time to get this done...kinda burnt out...worked non stop till today which was my first day off in i don't even know how long, and I remodeled our entire bathroom and be thanked by my truck by finding out my water pump needs to be here it goes.

I'm gonna start out with this quote that I found from the reading.
"It's not like they come here to be labeled, or to believe the label.
We're all here-kids, teachers, parents, whoever-it's about all of
us working together, playing together, being together, and that's
what learning is. Don't tell me any of these kids are being set up to
For my senior exit project...I worked with a Special Needs Classroom at my old Junior High School. My first choice for this project was to work at an Autism camp but the mentor bailed on me on the last minute, and looking back at it, I'm kind of glad, as terrible as that may sound, but only because I got to work in a public school.  The classroom I worked with was much different from other classrooms. The kids came in happy. But the classroom was self contained. To get to it, I had to go to an entirely different classroom and go through it. There was no sign to get to it or anything. It was like invisible. I couldn't find it on any school map, and never heard of it while I was at the school(that may or may not have been due to the fact that it was on the same floor as the library, a place of which I stayed far away from.)
I expected that all the kids would need a lot of help and work on much lower ability content.  This was, kind of true. The cool thing about this class room, was that the kids didn't stay in it for the day. The kids only had a class or so in this room.  Rather than being just a special needs classroom, it was just a class room that taught several subjects at different rates. Some of the kids I would see would go there for JUST history..or JUST math, or maybe math and history. Other than that, they would go to "normal" classrooms for their other subjects with other kids that didn't necessarily go to any special needs classes.  This was interesting to me because I knew for a fact that the school also had a classroom upstairs for children with special needs, but they would just stay in that classroom all day. As terrible as it sounds, when you saw these kids out of their classroom, you knew they were special needs, not because they wore a label or anything, but because you didn't see them in any other class. While on the other hand, the kids I worked with, you could never tell because of the fact, chances were, you had classes with them, and you saw them all over the school. 

 I chose this video...because I liked it..ha...but my favorite quote from this the title. I didn't even read the title until after I started watching it and heard that quote, "Inclusion is Belonging". I think that's what I really liked about my senior exit project experience. When I watched my kids go to other classrooms, you could tell from the look on their face that they felt like they belonged...rather than being some out cast or reject. 

I think it's important to Include all "leveled" students into common classrooms for it provides a true growing experience. If you spend your whole life around one idea, that idea is engrained in you and it becomes your belief. If a kid with special needs spends his entire life in special needs classrooms, then there's nothing else to him or her, that's it. But when you include these children in other classrooms with other students, that's when their potential is truly unlocked and you really see the kids grow up. 

My question is this: up until high school, having the classrooms be inclusive was a foreign concept. We all knew there was a special needs classroom. In elementary school it was in the corner of the school. They even had their own playground so they wouldn't be around the other kids. In Middle school it seemed it was just that one large room on the 6th floor . It wasn't until my Senior Exit Project that I realized that kids with disabilities such as Down Syndrome and Tourette Syndrome were co-learning with students that didn't even have an IEP. so my question is, did any of you have classes with students with disabilities, or even know if you did? I guess that's the bigger question...did you know? And another idea is, did you know if you had a special needs classroom dedicated to just that in your school, perhaps you walked by it every day....but did you ever get to talk to those kids, or were they just there?