Which one? What was once a catchy little ditty (think Frank Sinatra) to hum to yourself is now an option on how you view inclusion.
I read and hear often that schools are "doing inclusion", and I'm not really sure what they mean by that.
Does it mean that children are...
included on the playground or at lunch but nowhere else?
included in music and art but with no accommodations, modifications or support?
in the general education classroom, but are expected to do the same work in the same way at the same time?
"participating", but otherwise not engaged?
If we're going to use the phrase "doing inclusion", we have to be clear about what that will look like.
Because we can't "do" inclusion without action.
What do our actions look like?
Engagement. How do we engage in conversations about meeting the needs of every child? Are we supporting each other in a way that can translate to the classroom? When adults engage in conversations openly and honestly, there might just be the mindset shift needed.
When the mindset shifts and deeper understanding and knowledge is available, real engagement can happen in the classroom for every child.
Encouragement. Encouragement to "think outside the box" and try a new strategy or use a new assistive technology tool. Encouragement without punishment or negative consequence.
Children need encouragement to learn in a way that is meaningful, use new tools and experience the social and learning power of belonging to their peer groups.
Involvement. When adults are involved in creating an inclusive community, there is ownership. It is not a mandate. Both adults and children grow from being involved in community changes.
When children are involved with their peers, friendships are built. Supports come naturally because relationships have been nurtured through learning, engagement and social opportunities.
So when we are able to "do" these three actions, we are able to celebrate what each child brings to the proverbial table: their differences, their strength, and their magic.
In doing this, the feeling shifts from something we are "doing" to something we are "being".
It feels like we are being inclusive.
It feels like belonging.
We long to belong, and belonging and caring anchors our sense of place in the universe. -Patricia Churchland
Regardless of difference, ability, strengths, or limitations, each of us has a place in the universe.
And, in school, so it must be for children...
Here's some Frank just for fun... "do-be-do-be-do"...