Labrador Principal “Inclusion Works”
Sandra Broomfield, Principal, Peacock Primary School, Happy Valley, Labrador
As principal of Peacock Primary School, my journey with Inclusive Education has been a successful one thus far. I will always refer to this change in thinking as Inclusive Education and not just Inclusion with my staff and colleagues. Inclusion on its own is simply incorporating students with disabilities into regular classrooms in a meaningful and respectable way. I see Inclusive Education as an umbrella for many traits a school should have: inclusion of ALL students, co-teaching teams, differentiated instruction, learning centers, a welcoming school environment, positive behavior supports, a safe and happy place to be! It is a school where all children’s needs are met at their own respectable levels through a variety of differentiated activities and learning centers where choice is given in the way learning takes place. It is a school where children feel safe, ready and able to take new risks in their learning and development to achieve at their full potential. It is a school where children feel worth and value for their efforts. It is a school where everyone demonstrates a tolerance and acceptance for individual differences and abilities. It is a school where children learn how to manage choice and make good life long decisions. At Peacock Primary School, I feel we are on our way to becoming this school through the celebration of differences and achievements attained by ALL students and staff!
Does Inclusive Education make our school a better place? How can it not? When you have teacher teams collaborating together for the betterment of student learning and a concentration on choice and learning styles, it is a recipe for success! Does it have its challenges? Any recipe is challenging when you are mixing many ingredients together. No change is easy, no change is fast, but the outcome is very beneficial and worthwhile for all teachers and students. It takes time, effort and collaboration to create, understand and implement the vision of Inclusive Education. All staff has had the opportunity to attend, participate and discuss the philosophy and practices of an Inclusive school. With presenters, workshops and hands on training, staff members have broadened their understanding of the variety of teaching/learning styles that can be implemented to help students achieve. Teachers have had to change their way of thinking and instructing, even down to changing classroom management, to accommodate the needs of all children in their classrooms.
All members of our school community are to be credited for making the learning path of each and every child a successful journey in their overall academic, social, and emotional growth. All staff members are team players with the same goals. Teaching and learning is more meaningful, engaging and fun through an Inclusive Education approach. As I roam around the building popping in and out of classrooms, I have seen so many smiling, engaged, and happy learners. They enjoy their group work which allows them the choice of activity which enhances their learning style and a chance to build bonds with classmates. These engaged children have taken on a new way of learning that continues to develop general learning skills that will enable them to become life long learners.
I feel the staff at Peacock Primary School has created a very welcoming environment for the children and parents of our community. Our understanding and implementation of Inclusive Education continues to grow each day, as each individual follows the recipe in their own unique and creative ways. As our journey continues, I know we will continue to grow and learn while facing new challenges. The children’s overall growth and development will continue to flourish allowing them to become the best they can be!
As an Instructional Resource Teacher, my first thoughts and impressions of Inclusive Education was not necessarily a positive one. In the spring of 2009, our student services team was informed that we were “chosen” to be a pilot school for inclusive education during the school year 2009-2010. At that time, I felt that Inclusive Education was a way to phase out special education teachers in the education system. I felt as though we would no longer be needed, as all children would now stay in the classroom and be serviced by the classroom teacher and teacher assistants. After discussions on the philosophy behind Inclusive Education, I knew that I was ready for more intense training as my understanding and role became clearer and the benefits of Inclusive education became more obvious.
During my 20 years as a primary educator, of which 10 of these are in the area of special services, I was always accustomed to children leaving the classroom for a period of time during the day to receive specific instruction in their area of difficulty. The children were taken either on their own or with a small group to another classroom, usually the special education teacher’s room, to cover their objectives as outlined in their Pathway 4 course. The children were then sent back to their classroom, after missing the content covered while they were out, and were expected to fall back into the flow of the classroom. These children, who were diagnosed with a defined exceptionality, were expected to go back into the classroom, transfer all knowledge that they just learned in isolation, and then continue as if they never left the class. This process may have been advantageous for the teachers, but not for the students. It caused them frustration, a feeling of alienation, and disengagement. In many cases, they did not have the skills required to transfer the knowledge learned from one situation to another.
Through staff education, training, and personal research, I have come to realize that Inclusive Education is the door that opens so many opportunities for all. It gives all children a chance to grow as individuals, to respect the differences of all people, to realize their own potential and to reach their goals in a way that is relevant for their own needs and learning styles. As a staff member I have had the opportunity to receive training from such renowned people as Dr. Gordon Porter, Martha Kaufeldt, and Jay Mctigh, as well as many others from both the Department of education and the Labrador School Board. I have also had the opportunity to attend and present at a summer institute on Inclusive Education. These presenters and opportunities have furthered my understanding and appreciation of what Inclusive Education is. I understand that Inclusive Education is the welcoming of ALL children to learn with their peers in a safe, nurturing environment that enables everyone to feel important and successful.
Even though the pull-out of students is not something that is taboo within the philosophy of Inclusive education, it is a practice that I have avoided. The children are no longer learning in an isolated environment. As children become more involved in learning centers, take on more responsibility for their own learning, and provide and acquire help from their peers, it is obvious that all children are happier, more engaged learners. Children no longer need to feel inferior to their peers. They are no longer labeled by their classmates and are accepted for who they are. Children in the classroom are more active learners as they are involved and included in many of the same activities. The time of children with disabilities, or any child, being passive and voiceless is no longer a part of the learning community. Peacock Primary School has demonstrated the positive changes that can occur in a school community when all involved are working toward a common vision for ALL students!
Instructional Resource Teacher
Peacock Primary School
School Improvement & School Inclusion
The Ministry of Education in New Brunswick has a team conducting school improvement reviews in the Anglophone schools of the province. The director of the project is Inga Boehler and she reports that to date they have reviewed 24 schools. The project is just got under way this year, but it has already produced some generalizations on school programs and practices. Some of them have to do with inclusion in schools. We will seek a more thorough update from this team at a latter date. Here are a few of the preliminary findings:
- Some Observations on Inclusion
- Elementary schools flag and respond to learning challenges more quickly
- Schools are less well equipped to manage severe behaviour challenges
- Pyramids of academic and behaviour intervention are not systematically established in many schools
- Student Services Teams are not equally able to mobilize services and supports
- Use of Personnel: Resource & Methods Teacher (R&M)
- R&M not in classrooms; pull-outs only vs. R&M teacher in classrooms monitoring individual student progress and working with the teacher
- R&M teacher is less effective when student services team is not working collaboratively with teachers (admin, guidance, R&M)
- Use of Personnel: Teacher Assistants (TA)
- TA is primary person working with a student vs. TA is part of team planning for students with exceptionalities
- TA schedules do not meet student needs
- Instructional Practice & Differentiation
- In many classrooms can’t tell which student has an Special Education Plan;
- Student acceptance of all peers and varied assignments among students (observed at all levels of the system) and willingness to help when help is needed
- Very little differentiated instruction; whole-class instruction is still the norm
- Flexible Grouping
- Grouping/re-grouping is not yet carried out well; multi-age groupings are not being used effectively
- Pyramids of intervention not entrenched; need school-wide and strategic approach.
- Not clear about what is streaming and what isn’t – sometimes still within-class exclusion
- Behaviour & Bullying
- Lack of resources for students with high behaviour needs (SIW, Guidance); safety issues
Information based on notes from the NB School Improvement Review Team, March 2011.
- Other Observations re: Inclusion
- Greater awareness (staff and students) of particular types of student conditions/challenges
- Some high schools finding ways to foster independence and build school belonging
- Outside agencies sometimes not providing needed supports and attending meetings
Transition Top Ten Questions???
What questions should a parent ask when their son/daughter is about to transition from school to community? This a question on the minds of many parents as schooling comes to an end.
Anne Kresta from Winnipeg has prepared a possible list. Take a look and see what you think.
Here are some questions that are top priorities when planning for a transition from school to the community as an adult.
1. When should planning begin?
2. Who should be involved?
3. How can we support our son/daughter through this process and into adulthood?
4. What do we, as parents, need to do?
5. What are some of the options that are out there for our consideration?
6. What is my son/daughter eligible for in terms of support from different service providers when they become an adult?
7. Who makes the decision about which pathway to graduation my son/daughter will take?
8. How long can my son/daughter remain within the education system receiving their supports?
9. How can we, as parents, make sure that our son/daughter remains a part of their community once they graduate?
10. Who is responsible for planning the transition from school to the community?
Puppet troupe educates people about disability issues
The Saskatchewan Association for Community Living (SACL) is celebrating another successful year of spreading the message of inclusion to schools, daycares, camps, and other organizations around Saskatchewan.
For more than two decades, the SACL has promoted awareness of disability issues through the educational puppet show Kids on the Block. The focus of Kids on the Block is to increase acceptance and appreciation of differences, which are central to our communities.
Through the use of 4-feet puppets, Kids on the Block is able to educate and dispel myths relating to individuals who have disabilities in a manner in which children can feel comfortable asking questions.
“Kids on the Block plants a seed for parents and teachers to expand upon,” said Rachelle Hosak, the SACL’s Youth Coordinator. “Children hear the words ‘autism’ or ‘Down syndrome’ from the puppets and they bring the words home to ask questions about it.”
The Kids on the Block program is a 45-minute show that includes four skits about various disabilities and related issues. Children are introduced to topics such as visual impairment, spina bifida, Down syndrome, multiculturalism, abuse, muscular dystrophy, feelings, and other issues.
As one elementary teacher stated, “The presentation clearly gives a message of friendship and understanding peoples’ differences. Students have a better understanding of disabilities now.”
For additional information about the Kids on the Block program, or to book a Kids on the Block performance, please contact Rachelle Hosak at (306) 955-3344 or e-mail email@example.com
The Alberta Association for Community Living has a very informative video on inclusive post-secondary education. It is called – “Living the Dream” and can viewed through this link.
TORONTO EDUCATOR STUDIES KEY ISSUE: ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF EDUCATIONAL ASSISTANTS IN ONTARIO
Joyce Mounsteven has recently completed research on an important topic. During the school years 2006 – 2009 a research study entitled: Roles and Responsibilities of Educational Assistants in Ontario Schools: implications for practice, was conducted. Permission was received from numerous school boards, French, English, Public and Catholic to access the educational assistants (EAs) within their board. This is a summary of the results.
Impetus for the study: There are approximately 22,000 EAs working in Ontario schools. The number is an estimate based on the fact that there is no direct method of reporting exact numbers to the Ministry of Education. The position of EAs is known by a variety of names e.g. Teacher Assistant, Education Resource Worker, Paraprofessional etc., which adds to the difficulty of identifying exact numbers. The number of EAs has increased by 68.4% between 1999 and 2006 as compared to the growth of students receiving special education support of 10.79%. (Zegarac, 2008).
Purpose of the study: The success of students with exceptionalities within our schools is, to a large extent, contingent on the supports and services they receive. Given that one of the main supports provided at the school level is that of an EA, it is critical that we fully understand the roles and responsibilities assigned to them. This study explored the following:
- Who are the educational assistants in Ontario?
- What are the roles and responsibilities they are currently fulfilling?
- What are the issues identified by the educational assistants?
- What are the implications of the findings for current effective practice?
One of the areas Joyce looked at was where the educational assistants work. She found the following:
Among her conclusions:
“Now is the time to look at the essential skills involved in promoting strong and effective teacher/EA teams. The collaboration skills necessary for an effective team are applicable to all education teams within a school.”
“Clarification of roles and responsibilities is only a beginning point. Clear lines of communication need to be established to ensure that the best interests of the students are considered at all times. The need for ongoing training of the team, rather than training in isolation is critical. The teacher is in charge of the classroom and with clear direction and supervision the team can have their training needs identified. With the support of the school administration the training can then be accessed in a timely way so that the student potential is fully realized.”
The full executive summary (11 pages) of Dr. Mounsteven’s work can be viewed by clicking here.
From: Executive Summary of Doctoral Dissertation - Joyce Mounsteven PhD – firstname.lastname@example.org
A few things about Joyce: Joyce has recently completed her Doctoral programme at York University in Ontario. Prior to ‘retirement’ Joyce was the Supervising Principal for Special Education in Toronto. Her interest in moving the inclusion agenda forward in the public schools has greatly influenced her career. She continues to advocate on behalf of students with exceptionalities and their families. Her most recent work has involved the large scale training of educational assistants across the province of Ontario in the area of autism. She is currently on the Faculty of Geneva Centre for Autism and hopes to use her research findings to guide future practice in the implementation of teacher /EA or teacher/ ECE teams.
RESEARCHING CHANGE STRATEGIES
By Jason Newberry, PhD, Taylor Newberry Consulting, Guelph, Ontario
For the past six years I have had the pleasure of partnering with the Community Inclusion Initiative (CI), a national community development initiative promoting the inclusion, full participation and citizenship of Canadians with intellectual disabilities and their families. The initiative needed an evaluation framework and ongoing support to fully understand the most promising strategies to change and improve organizations, policies, and systems in ways that are supportive of inclusion. I started this work as a researcher at the Centre for Community Based Research, and have continued my relationship with CI more recently with Taylor Newberry Consulting.
There are several priority areas for CI, and a big one has been inclusive education. In my work with the partners, I have heard about amazing innovations and partnerships in the education systems all across the nation.
A common thread has been the development of effective partnerships between Associations for Community Living and teachers, principals, and school boards. This has led to a variety of collaborative approaches to teacher in-service and training in which teachers learn effective strategies to promote and support classroom inclusion. In our work, we have already learned a lot about systems change in education, including the importance of translating values of inclusion into educational practice. Other important factors are understanding school culture, “place-based” training, and gaining buy-in to training at all levels of the system.
We are now embarking on national research initiative that will directly examine and compare different models of teacher training on knowledge, skills, attitudes, and classroom practices among participating teachers and schools. This new research initiative will help to further illuminate the best and promising practices in supporting fully inclusive education.
For more information, please contact Jason at email@example.com
Definition of Inclusive Education – Department of Education – New Brunswick
One of the recommendations of The McKay Report on inclusion in schools in New Brunswick was that the stakeholders should define what they mean by “inclusive education”. A committee was established to do this and after several years work the definition was completed. It is a five page document and can be found at on the NB government site - or click here to download the PDF.
Research Study Results: Inclusion and Health – based on PALS – Maryam Wagner shares her findings.
Maryam Wagner completed a research study using PALS information – from Statistics Canada. It looks at parent’s perception of their child’s health and well-being – and factors in the “robustness” of their inclusion in school.
What was the purpose of the study?
To test the following hypothesis:
When children are attending schools in ‘robust’ inclusive education settings parents more likely to report:
• that their children with disabilities are in good general health; and
• that their children are performing well in school.
Maryam presented her findings at the Inclusive Education Canada Forum in Toronto on February 13, 2009.
Click Here – to see her PowerPoint Presentation and to download the PDF.
Including Students with Exceptionalities – What Works?
Shelia Bennett a professor of Education at Brock University in Ontario has just authored a new monograph for the Ministry of Education’s series on “Research into Practice”/ The Monograph (# 16) has been printed and sent to thousands of Ontario educators. It will soon be on the Ministry’s website.
Among the highlights:
• The principal is pivotal to success;
• The environment and culture of the school impact the success of inclusion;
• Inclusion of students with exceptionalities in the regular classroom does not negatively impact the academic learning of other students;
• Social benefits accrue to both exceptional students and their classmates in inclusive classrooms.
Check out the Monograph #16.
CACL has a new Parent brochure on Inclusive Education. It is intended to provide a parents with key starting points about inclusive education.
Click Here to see the brochure
Manitoba Resource on Transition from Secondary School
A new document has been created in Manitoba to address transition protocol for students who will be completing their high school education. It is called -Bridging to Adulthood: A Protocol for Transitioning Students with Exceptional Needs from School to Community. It is intended for transition planning partners, including Manitoba Family Services and Housing, designated agencies, Child and Family Services Authorities and Agencies, Manitoba Health and Healthy Living, regional health authorities and their programs and services, Manitoba Education, Citizenship and Youth and educators in Manitoba.
Bridging to Adulthood:
A Protocol for Transitioning Students with Exceptional Needs from School to Community
Click here to link to the document
CACL Inclusive Education Brochure
Check it out!
Tim Loreman is Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Education at Concordia University College of Alberta, Canada, and formerly taught at Monash University, Australia. AB A useful addition to available resources from a professor in Western Canada. Available from RoutledgeFalmer. Check their website – www.routledge.com
Click here for details
Anne Jordan has just published an eBook with Wiley Canada that was developed as an electronic book to be used on-line. It is called “Introduction to Inclusive Education” and promises to be an excellent resource for Canadian teachers – both those now in classrooms and as a text for pre-service teachers.
The focus of the book is on how teachers can adapt the skills they already have to include a wide range of students' needs, and how these in turn can benefit all students. Anne asserts that inclusion can be not only good for students but also a powerful form of professional growth for teachers.
The book has built in components available on-line: interactive exercises, quizzes, video sequences, and case studies, and readings accompany each module.
The eBook was given to almost 200 classroom teachers attending a PD Session on inclusive Education held in New Brunswick in late November. The Student Services Branch of the Ministry of Education will be using it in a in-service project to begin in 2007. (Contact Robert Gerard for information - (Robert.Gerard@gnb.ca).
You can find the book at the following site:
Anne Jordan retired in June as a Professor in the Department of Curriculum, Teaching & Learning, OISE, University of Toronto. Her interests include policies and practices in special education delivery, effective teaching in inclusive classrooms, and collaboration and resource support. She has published widely including “Skills in Collaborative Classroom Consultation” (Taylor and Francis, 1994).
“Aim Higher” parents and families were told in a session held in the fall of 2006 in London Ontario. Marilyn Dolmage shared her thoughts with participants in the event. - Aim Higher.doc
Yukon Program Supports Inclusion and More
A program called the “Whole Child Program” was referred to us by Patrice Berrel, CACL Board member and a school principal in Whitehorse, Yukon. The program is coordinated by Crystal Pearl-Hodgins, the Community Coordinator.
The purpose of the program is to restructure schools “to best allow for full participation by all and to ensure that every child has every opportunity to meet their full potential. The program recognizes that Schools have an active and pivotal role to play in integrating community and services for children and their families. The African proverb "it takes an entire village to raise a child" has never been truer than for our community. The challenge was how do we do it. The educational success of our children cannot be assured unless there are concerted efforts made to remove the barriers to learning created by problems that begin outside the classroom walls.
Whole Child Program 867-667-8676 or fax 867-393-2056 firstname.lastname@example.org
For detailed information:
Stories from Schools and Teachers
The new school year is upon us and we want to start a new series on our website. We want to feature short success stories from teachers, parents, school leaders and others. The ones that follow were provided by principals who participated in the “Leadership Academy on Inclusive Education” held in Charlottetown PEI in July 2006. Others will be added in the coming days. Check back to see new stories.
We thank the individuals who provided the stories and ask you to send us your success stories to add to them.
Victoria Mosley, Principal, Millidgeville North School, District 8, Saint John, NB
While working as a grade 5 teacher I had a student with “Asperger’s Syndrome” assigned to my class. As I got to know the boy’s interests and strengths, I soon could tell when he was getting off-task and needed prompting. My ability to “read” this child’s behavior helped me establish a strong and supportive relationship with him. I was able to get optimal results because I could tell when he required down time or a break from work. I gave him latitude and this made his time in my classroom more successful. When the teacher develops bonds with students by becoming “part of their world” and finding out about their interests, hobbies, skills and strengths allows one to meet their emotional, social and educational needs.
Tanya Whitney, Principal, Forest Hills School, District 6, Saint John, NB
My most notable success with inclusive education has been the establishment of an effective student services team within my school. This was partnered or linked to the intentional empowerment of the resource teacher in the school to be confident in her role as a collaborative consultant. I did this by actively elevating the importance of this role – the resource teacher - in our school. I gave the collaborative consultation role support in a very public way with the staff and communicated and explained the rationale for the approach to teachers. This has to be done on a continuous and deliberate basis.
Some of the benefits of an effective student services team and “resource teacher” who works from the “collaborative consultation model are:
- Teachers collaborate and become more self reliant as a team in terms of “solutions”;
- There is less pointing of fingers in terms of who is responsible and more assumption of responsibility;
- More confidence by all involved;
- More dialogue about students and meeting their needs in more respectful and professional terms;
- Development of a school-specific “bank” of tried and true strategies.
Charlene Carroll, Principal, Hampton High School, District 6, Hampton, NB
In January 2006 we received a student with many needs – academic, behavior and social. We investigated his school history and this allowed us to develop a good understanding of the issues affecting him. When he was registered in the district he was described as having ADHD, academic delays, bipolar condition and as being physically abusive to others. In his previous school he had been removed from classes and suspended from school several times. When in school he spent most of his time in the resource room and was not included in the classroom because of fears of his behavior.
We … (our school team) … decided we were going to set up a plan to make sure he stayed in his class, control his behavior and make academic learning a priority. We first asked for teacher assistant support on a temporary basis to get him on track. It was requested and denied three times. As a consequence we decided we were going to go ahead and make up a plan we could do ourselves. We first met with the student’s parents and received their ideas and input. The district did support us by providing release time for all 7 staff members involved in the case to meet and develop a plan.
We organized the student’s day so that he was with his peers all day. We re-assigned several teacher assistants to assist him a few times a week and we had our school behavior intervention worker support his teacher and monitor his behavior and academic progress.
The team also focused on identifying the things that triggered behavior problems and to find ways to reduce these factors. We made the student a priority for our weekly team meetings and focused on following his progress and developing intervention strategies where needed. As a result of our collaborative team effort we were able to keep him in the regular classroom 90% of the time. Violent outbursts were reduced from daily events to weekly or even bi-weekly. The student was assisted in developing a friendship circle and now participates in all aspects of school life.
We feel positive about having had the chance of working with this student. We feel good about out team meeting the challenge of developing strategies to be successful with this student.
Inclusive Policy and Practice in Education: Best Practices for Students with Disabilities
April 2004, The Roeher Institute.
Inclusive Education Stories and Strategies for Success
Prepared by Heather Raymond, M.Ed.