I always consider myself a learner, and sitting in PD for two days reminds me what many learners go through daily … The highs, the challenges, the need to move around, the need to construct meaning and my need to talk through ideas.
The two days of “Creating inclusive classrooms: Access for all students in the PYP” are no different to any other PD days. I grapple with my usual inability to focus for too long while loving the thought-provoking content and thoughts that are thrown my way.
This video generates a great deal of thought about how we view children and we find ourselves thinking about which child we know is like each animal.
The mission statement of the IB is unpacked and then we look at our school’s mission statement and highlight words that we feel show that inclusion is valued. It is clear to us that this is clearly an important element for our school and we think about:
What do we stand for ? What do we aspire to be?
How will the work I do contribute to our mission?
The idea of viewing children through a strengths (rather than deficit) based model, by using the PYP learner profiles is one of the approaches that really resonates with me. Often, I use them as part of report comments and conversations, but this forced us to really analyse the profiles and the children we are working with. Using a simple outline of a gingerbread man as a structure, we share our ideas, make notes and discussing what we see. Some people realise that there are many lenses with which we are able to view children and others realise that not all students (especially academically “smart” ones) possess all of these traits. Every learner has something(s) to work on ; we all have strengths.
This leads us to ponder what inclusion is. It is interesting how the IB defines inclusion. We read …
Inclusion in the IB:
“Inclusion is an ongoing process that aims to increase access and engagement in learning for all students by identifying and removing barriers. This can only be successfully achieved in a culture of collaboration, mutual respect, support and problem solving. Inclusion is the learner profile in action, an outcome of dynamic learning communities. Inclusion is more about responding positively to each individual’s unique needs. Inclusion is less about marginalizing students because of their differences…”
The days provokes us to consider how we can allow students choice, voice, an entry an exit level for all learning engagements and how important it is that every child in every class is catered for, has their learning acknowledged and is guided to embrace who they are and how they learn best.
Some messages stand out clearly:
- Problems need to be discovered before they can be solved.
- We need to repeat things so we remember.
- Fair is giving everyone what they need.
- It doesn’t mean you understand something because you have learnt it.
- Inquiry takes us from one level of understanding to another. It’s an approach, not a subject.- Kath Murdoch
- We should be creating different groups all the time. Labelling children (even with random names) is damaging.
- Have high expectations of all children. Allow children to have high expectations of themselves.
I supppose there is only really one question left to answer after the two days …
How will we go about ensuring that we include every child in a meaningful, realistic and engaging way – every day?