Grateful: happy to serve

The job of an inclusive educator is often quite thankless. The parents are most grateful because our job supports the progress and independence of their beloved children and sometimes depending on individual circumstances, we might be more ecstatic than the parent because we’ve worked really to ensure that the child or young person is given every opportunity to suceed . If you think about it, we celebrate the smallest steps of progress.

One of the things that I enjoy most about this line of work is shifting attitudes and perspectives on inclusive education and special educational needs.

Not everyone will be grateful for the work that we do but I don’t know about you, sometimes that spurs me on. I find joy in the fact that I want to give someone a fighting chance when not everyone does.

Research shows that the attitude of teachers are essential to the success of inclusive education programs for children with special needs (Avramidis & Norwich, 2002). This is also dependent on the country and type of special educational need and/or disability.

Generally speaking, most educators (in my experience) do have positive attitudes about special needs but if it gets tough, it becomes less about the educator’s ability and more about the child’s needs, which I think should always be challenged. The role of the inclusive educator is to find a way include the child. I am no expert but I imagine that is not an easy thing to do however it is where the inclusive educator finds their greatest success stories and children/young people are most grateful. This applies to all fields and disciplines, not just the class teachers and teaching assistants. How has your work helped to include a child despite their differences?

It is not easy for the child or young person to always be different but I bet they are grateful every time someone gives them an opportunity to suceed.

What is your motivation? I’m grateful to all inclusive educators out there who are invested in levelling the playing field for some of our most vulnerable members of the world.

Coronavirus: the impact on children with emotional and mental health needs

The Institute of Education at University College London has helpfully provided learning resources to support home-schooling for children with social, emotional and mental health needs. A quick browse prompted me to think about what is the best thing a child or young person with additional needs can take from this situation. For children with social, emotional and mental health needs, this experience must bring up a range of questions for the parents/carers who have to teach their child why this has happened and how this affects them as well as try to get them to do some Maths & English.

It’s quite a challenge for the inclusive educator in these circumstances. Whilst progress against the curriculum is important for a child’s academic progress, what’s more important is that the children understand why this is happening and what they can do to support the situation. There’s always a learning opportunity in every situation.

I spoke to a parent of a child with quite severe ADHD earlier this week. I asked her how she was coping home-schooling her child. She replied, “The questions don’t stop, he’s more worried about everyone dying than doing the work”. I advised her that it’s more important for the child’s emotional state to be calmed before engaging in any learning activity. I’m a big fan of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (visual representation below). If you look at Maslow’s (1943) theory , feeling safe and secure is absolutely essential to human motivation for anything and I think it’s important that this is applied to the context of home schooling in the midst of a global pandemic. There is no doubt in my mind that this parent isn’t the only person in this situation right now.

A few days ago, I read a blog post from GEM Report about the impact of school closures and the prospect of this being extended to the summer holidays. Typically, the summer closure of schools is welcomed by most as a rest for children who have spent the entire year absorbing new information in a highly structured learning environment but this year might be different. I think our first priority should always be health & wellbeing but if the school closures are extended to the summer holidays, then that is a considerable length of time away from a structured learning environment.

What do you think could be done to support children in reintegrating back into school? Particularly for those with emotional and mental health needs? Does anyone have any other thoughts they’d like to contribute?

The link to the resources provided by UCL can be found here:

https://www.ucl.ac.uk/ioe/departments-and-centres/centres/centre-inclusive-education/homeschooling-children-send/social-emotional-and-mental-health-young-people

What does it mean to be an inclusive educator?

Evening all,

The world appears to be an unjust place for anyone with unique attributes. Whether it be the colour of their skin, the accent they speak with or their physical appearance. For children with learning and physical disabilities, the idea of integrating with society is something that is important to them and the way we see them as educators influences that process. The term “educator” is not solely reserved for those responsible for the facilitation of learning, I am literally talking about all who influence the learning and education process from both sides:

a) anybody who influences how the disadvantaged learner views the world

b) anybody who influences how the world views the disadvantaged learner

If you can relate to this then you are in the right place. Around here it’s all about challenging barriers and finding solutions rather than making do. Nobody asks to be born with learning or physical disabilities and therefore the responsibility of including them in what we do is a collective responsibility to educate.

Speaking from my own personal experience, the learner often knows they are different in some way which is absolutely fine, I think it is important that they understand and embrace this. But what needs to change is that the child should not feel that he or she is at a disadvantage as a result of their uniqueness.

Comment, like or share if you agree…

Everyone has a role to play in inclusion

Welcome: My First Post

Hello everyone. Thank you for taking the time to visit my site. I am truly humbled and privileged to be writing to you.

I have decided to start a public blog because I think across the world there are different practices and policies all concerned with the development of inclusive education but to varying degrees. It is quite clear that across the world, people with additional learning needs and/or disabilities have varying levels of support and expertise. I wanted to create a space where discussions can be held across a range of different contexts and disciplines to try and improve practice and policy on an individual level. This blog will particularly focus on children/young people from 5 to 16 as I think inclusive education is most effective and necessary within this age bracket given that is the rough compulsory schooling age across most developed countries. Although, there are likely to be posts related to children much young and adults much older.

I want to discuss policy, practice, research and resources that are being used across the world. I chose the name “The Inclusive Educator” because the ultimate goal is to support everyone in becoming more inclusive in their education practice. Whether you’re a parent trying to support your disabled child to play with other children or a teacher trying to get a child with ADHD to stay in the classroom longer.

I am pro-mainstream and believe that all children should have access to a mainstream education irrespective of their needs. I equally recognise that mainstream education may not be right for every child but every parent should have the right to at least try and see if their child can be successful in mainstream education.

I honestly would love to connect with anyone who has a genuine passion for special needs, disabilities or inclusive education. I want to connect with teachers, professionals, consultants, researchers, parents, adults with disabilities who can now reflect on their childhood experiences. Literally, if you have something to contribute to the discussion, please feel free to do so.

I am not going to be able to do this all myself as I can only speak from one perspective so I would welcome anyone to get in touch if they would like to contribute.

If I continue this blog successfully for a year, I hope to have a platform for open discussion and dialogue about inclusive education and people leave the blog more confident in their practice than when they first saw my page. There is no correct answer to every question and you will not find an inclusive education manual here as every child and situation is different but what you will find is an opportunity to reflect and try new things.