Yo soy La Lay

adventures in family, faith, and Down syndrome

Advocacy #26: Include me – support the teachers

As a teacher, the first thing that I want you to know is that inclusion is not easy.

Worthy of the effort, yes, but not easy.

A high priority for students and communities, absolutely.  But it is not easy.

One of the biggest struggles that teachers face is the differentiate (modify) instruction for a variety of students.  Regardless of how many children have diagnosed special needs, when you have thirty students in a classroom and you have to meet the needs of every one of them, it can get dicey.  When you think about the upper grades, where teachers have over 100 students throughout the day, it’s even more challenging.

But still, it is worth it.

I have always taken the stance that I, as a parent, and soon Tessa, as an individual with Down syndrome, will have to spend a lot of time teaching people about her needs.  When the unexpected happens, when unkind words are shared or people are impatient or rude, we can react in anger or frustration… or we can use that time to teach.

Our school teachers are no different.  We can advocate for our children by understanding that their teachers do not know our children and by showing a willingness to help them understand.  They may have have received no training on working with a child like mine.

(On a side note just as an example, in my teacher training, I had one 10 week class on Methods of Inclusion (along with a clinical observation requirement).  We had a little sprinkling of information about all kinds of special needs and how they might show up in our classrooms.)

(And on another side note, teachers who are unwilling to learn about their students receive no sympathy from me.  If you aren’t willing to educate every child that crosses your path, you need to get out of the profession.)

If we, as parents, always take the stance that people just don’t know any better and that we are here teach them, imagine what a difference we could make.  Sometimes, even if you feel they should know better, they don’t.  Even if we think that they should have worked with a child with Down syndrome or Autism or any special need, they may not have.  Or they may not have done it well because no one ever taught them.

You can work with your child’s teachers.  You can talk to their schools about special training opportunities, presentations, and conferences.  You can talk to colleges and universities about their training programs.  Be open to sharing and teaching and people will learn.

People will learn.  We have to believe in them as much as we believe in our own children.

People will learn.

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The First Day

I will never argue that teaching is the hardest profession.  There are lots of people who do hard work in other jobs.  I can’t easily make an argument that we need a summer more than anyone else… all I can say is that in my experience, the amount of stuff that we cram into a nine-month school year necessitates a long resting period.  There are few days more thrilling than the first day of summer.

In our house, summer looks like an open stretch of road, full of possibilities.  It’s sunny and vibrant and beautiful and free.

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It doesn’t require an alarm to sound at 4:30 in the morning.  It doesn’t mean melting into bed at 7:30 or making a 5:30 am run to Walmart because there is no lunch food in the house and Momma’s gotta eat.   It’s getting up when the sun is already there to greet me and the ability to actually go for a walk.  It’s kiddie pools and backyard fires (with s’mores!) and playtime and fun… fun that doesn’t have to squeeze into a two-hour time frame before dinner and tubbie and bedtime.

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It means putting away the Snow Angel jammies (starting tonight.) and putting on flip flops and shorts and band-aids on skinned knees.  It’s summer.  It’s HERE!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

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