What I Believe About Inclusion
I believe that I have a responsibility to care for and to provide the best possible educational experience to any child who enters my classroom. I feel that families expect that from me and that society expects that from me, but the reason why I believe this is less altruistic and more selfish. I want to live in and be a part of a world that is peaceful and vibrant with joy. I see education as a path towards this world. I see what I can do to contribute to this kind of world. I believe that inclusion contributes to that vision. I view my practice of inclusion as a matter of social welfare, and I believe that as an inclusive educator I am a change agent working on behalf of our society.
I believe that inclusion encompasses acceptance on the surface and holds empowerment at its heart. And the thread that is woven into this fabric is made of compassion and empathy. I believe that we must teach compassion and empathy and take it out of the shadows of the hidden curriculum and put it on a pedestal. I believe that with this mental stance, we can design an experience where children feel capable and significant. I believe that in this kind of circumstance, children and families and communities will be empowered.
I believe that empowerment is a path towards social equity. I know that there are large groups of people who have lived through and continue to feel the impact of systematic oppression and persecution. I believe that inclusive education can address this issue. I believe that my inclusive practices contribute to a collective effort of other educators who also believe what I believe. I believe that inclusion is a collective responsibility.
I believe that inclusion brings children together regardless of who they are in a way that is as equally valuable for all the children participating in the experience. Equally valuable experiences does not equate to the same experiences. For each child to derive value from me, I must individualize my approach to all children. I must appropriate effort and resources in strategic ways to support each child. I believe that a key activity of inclusion is designing education strategically.
I believe that all children deserve dignity and the opportunity to contribute in significant ways. We live in a world where children are hidden, dismissed, and disenfranchised. I have seen children of certain exceptionalities experience even further atrocities such as violence, discrimination, and shaming. Whether the exceptionality is their skin color, religion, country of origin, level of ability, or physical challenge, these children are robbed of dignity and opportunity simply because they are born. I will not contribute to that kind of world. I believe that I have to fight against it. I believe that I have to advocate on behalf of these children and their families. I believe inclusive teaching inherently is a matter of advocacy whether teachers want to participate in that effort or not. I believe that to be effective, I must leverage the power I do have to offer dignity and opportunity to any child who is in my classroom.
I am optimistic about my hopes and my beliefs.