February is inclusive education month in Canada. The Board of Education of School District 46 believes that we have the capacity to enable each of our students to excel. Our philosophy is based on best practice, inclusionary strategies and is complementary to the Ministry of Education’s Special Education Manual. We see inclusion daily in our schools in various forms.
Over 85 educators in our district are participating in three sessions with Shelley Moore, a well-known inclusive educator. They are learning about building classroom support plans that respond to needs, not individual students. We already know that our curriculum involves understanding, knowing, doing and becoming. By planning to work with all learners in a classroom, we are able to open the curriculum up to ideas that allow for varying levels of complexity. In the words of Shelley Moore: “When a flower doesn’t bloom, we support the soil. This is inclusion.”
Our Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) program allows us to become inclusive to all individuals, regardless of how they identify. Recently, Brian Gidinski from Burnaby worked with the district to prepare lessons using a variety of literacy tools to promote inclusion.
In our Train in Trades programs, we are able to ensure that all styles of learning are accommodated to suit specific students’ skills and abilities. Students are praised, rewarded and compensated for the things that they choose to be involved in and excel at. We witness students become red seal carpenters, chefs and fantastic auto service technicians. Students are taught valuable hands-on employability skills that not only develop practical and communication skills but allow a smooth transition from school to the workplace.
Through the principle of inclusion, our educators take away the expectation that their students need to be something or someone other than exactly who they are. It is important to note that all children and youth who are included today, in any form, will be responsible for the shift of having inclusive education become normalized for an entire generation.