Monday, July 7, 2014

Building school culture that supports inclusion...

Is the culture in your school open to a full inclusion program? Assess where your staff is through reflection on what you hear throughout the school, in IEP meetings, and in parent/teacher conferences.

Do you hear…
He doesn’t belong in this class.
She only wants to play on her iPad.
He has to improve in several areas.
That’s the responsibility of the special ed teacher.

Or do you hear…
He loves to be read to.
She really gets into anything with technology.
What can we do to support his success?
We need to provide scaffolds for him to improve in several areas.
This is how I think I can help him.

There are two lenses in which to view children with special needs; the capacity lens or the deficit lens. The capacity lens presupposes that the student has strengths and interests. School personnel assume responsibility to support students regardless of the challenges.

The view through the deficit lens highlights the areas that the student struggles with.  The very same teachers who say, “Johnny’s too needy to be in this class,” may be very kind teachers and want the best for their students. Often teachers viewing students through the deficit lens believe that the student needs to fit into the classroom or program.  The misguided remarks about students needing to fit the program rather than the program adjusting for the students, can result in a school culture that will not support inclusion.

The resources listed below provide a more thorough explanation of the capacity and deficit lenses.  After reading them, consider what your school can do to boost the capacity of the staff. Working in teams and identifying the positive characteristics and interests of students and then pinpointing resources and supports that can be made available, is a great place to begin.





4 comments:

  1. Thank you for reminding us all of the pros of inclusion. At the middle school level we do find it difficult at times and we all need these reminders of how to approach the situation!

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  2. I love this post!!!!!!!!!!!!! While I don't reach special education, I teach kids. All kids. And the remarks bother me sometimes, even when well intentioned teachers say them. I like the perspective of the two lenses. Great point!

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  3. The capacity lens vs the deficit lens description is so helpful for all the students in our class. The lens we choose to view our kids can make all the difference in the world! Great post.

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  4. This statement sums it up for me: "The capacity lens presupposes that the student has strengths and interests. School personnel assume responsibility to support students regardless of the challenges." I love your use of the word "responsibility". To me, this goes beyond saying we have a "choice ". Choices imply a passage of time while a decision is reached. Our kids should not have to languish while we figure it out.

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