By Candice Wells
December is the month nationally celebrated as Inclusive School’s Month. The impacts due to COVID19 and ways that schools decides to engage with remote learning while with good intentions may inadvertently cause more students to become marginalized or segregated. Everyday is a day to reflect on how each demographic group of students are scheduled and/or provided opportunities for interventions during remote learning. What are the opportunities that schools and teachers can continue to grow during virtual classes, or virtual school activities to promote a school climate and culture of belong, inclusive practices and access to equity. While Inclusive School’s month quickly approaches in December, the time to take action is now and everyday so that students have opportunities beyond December and in anticipation of returning to school.
Consider the opportunities as a result of virtual learning. Schools increasing their resources of digital learning platforms bring many technology that are now available as accommodations. Students engaging and connecting with their classroom peers through Zoom, Webex or Google Meets. With planning teachers can design opportunities beyond their classes, connect with other teachers from their schools, in their state or globally.
While seeking to improve access for students with disabilities, do not forget about your teachers of special education. Administrators should consider how they are modeling inclusive practices by designing support or professional development that includes their teachers of special education attending content workshops and learning opportunities. All teachers benefit on training regarding Social Emotional Learning and strategies regarding accommodations. Virtual learning will reveal the need to plan how to execute an accommodation identified in an Individual Education Plan (IEP) and new needs will be identified for both students with or without a disability. As districts and school based administrators plan workshops to develop the capacity of its staff to teach virtually be sure to role model inclusive practices while supporting the various skill sets of their teachers and staff.