Have you thought about how you are going to ensure that your classroom is inclusive? Have you found all those ‘E’s and ‘K’s on your registers? Have you worked out what those letters mean for each child that has been assigned one? Have you read the EHCPs, the IEPs, the passports and pen portraits? Have you planned with your TAs? Have you differentiated your lessons and individualised your resources? Have you thought about how those ‘E’s and ‘K’s are going to eat into your time? What about the rest of the class? They need you too, right?
Remember! All teachers are teachers of SEND! (DfE SEND Code of Practice 0-25, 2015)
Well you’d better get cracking the…
Just kidding. I have some good news!
Those ‘E’s and ‘K’s on your register. Yep; the ones with all the paperwork…
Children, just like the rest of them. Students, just like any student.
I’m not saying that you aren’t going to need to put in that little bit extra with those guys; you are! But, trust me, the non-‘E and K’ kids are just as likely to throw you a curve ball as those kids are.
And I’m not saying that you shouldn’t read the EHCPs, IEPs etc, meet with your TAs and get some decent planning in place. You really, really should.
But what I am going to say is this:
Unlearn everything (if anything!) you have been taught about inclusion.
There is no ‘us and them’. There’s only us.
There is no SEND and non-SEND students. They’re all just kids. Complex, unique individuals, every single one of them. Get all the information you can, get to know them personally, and appreciate them for who they are. Not just the kids identified as ‘SEND’, but all of the kids.
Attitude is everything.
It is the first step and the bottom line of true inclusion. If you see your class and then these other kids, then you can never be truly inclusive, no matter how many IEPs you read or worksheets you differentiate. The class is made up equally of all the individuals in it. Each student is just another kid who needs to get what they need to have.
The TAs, the SENCo, their teacher from last year, their parents (definitely speak with parents!), yes; they can help you. But, ultimately, these kids are yours. There are many things that can make a great teacher, but getting it right for every child in your class is top of the list for feel good factor, surely!
I’m not saying it will be easy… but, if you’ve gone into teaching for the easy life then you have made a terrible, terrible error!
Those ‘E’s and ‘K’s probably do need additional and different, sure. Maybe they do have a diagnosis, a bit of kit, or need a bit more time, or colour, or interactivity to get where they’re going, but they only need ‘inclusion’ if they weren’t included in the first place.
Children with ‘E’s and ‘K’s next to their name on the register represent a huge leap forward on the journey towards true inclusion, equality, equity and justice for those with disabilities. But they also suffer because of being seen as other, ‘included’ and often marginalised. We’ve come a long way, but we can do better… and change will not come if we wait for some other person and some other time. We’re the people we have been waiting for. We are the change that we seek. That’s an Obama quote, that last bit; I take no credit for it, but the sentiment is relevant – we are responsible for making the changes that need to occur.
So, happy Teacher New Year!
Let’s make it a good one.