One of the greatest things about my school is that we are a full-inclusion school. That means that our ESOL and special education teachers come into classrooms to work rather than pull kids out. There are many, many reasons why I feel that is fabulous. Right now, I just want to focus on one.
We plan together. Every week I sit down with the special education teacher who co-teaches in my classroom and the other first grade teacher for whom that is true, and the three of us plan together. We discuss the things we see that are struggles for our kiddos and brainstorm ways to address them. We celebrate successes and moan about challenges. It’s helpful academically and emotionally.
I’ve noticed the other classroom teacher (an amazing woman who looped up to first grade with her class) and the special education teacher (also fabulous) don’t always see the kids the same way. It’s not a problem. In fact, frequently it’s humorous. The classroom teacher will talk about things that are going well, things her kids can do, things that have improved, and the special education teacher will give her a look. That kind-of over-your-glasses stare (even though she doesn’t wear glasses) that clearly shows she doesn’t buy it. She then gently points out the students that are struggling, the problems they still face, and the things that have remained the same.
Typically, they’re both right.
The classroom teacher has said, “I don’t see my kids the same way other people see them.”
In my mind, that’s a really good thing. The classroom teacher who lives with these kiddos all day, every day, has to see all the positives. It’s the only way we can stay sane! But also, it is important to see what is going well.
The special education teacher, who gets to leave the classroom for part of each day, can focus on what still needs to happen. It makes for a great balance. The two perspectives together mean that we are much more likely to see our kids clearly.
Just a note, this isn’t about special education kiddos. Another great benefit of being a full inclusion school is that our kids are our kids. Labels are much less important on a day-to-day basis.