How will you celebrate Inclusive Schools Week?
Monday, November 28, 2016
Each year, during the first full week of December, schools across the nation take a moment to celebrate their progress in inclusive practices. Schools focus on their growth in promoting welcoming K-12 communities, embracing all students, and ensuring every student has an opportunity to learn, participate and contribute.
The week is also an opportunity for school communities to challenge themselves to continue to study, implement and reflect on best practices that are essential to success of students in their diverse classrooms. As we embark on this prodigious week, commemorate your successes in effectively including students and look ahead for ways to challenge yourself to meet the ever-increasing needs in your classroom.
Inclusive Schools Week this year is Dec. 5-9. This year, the week's theme focuses on the concept of being a hero. This is particularly fitting because the definition of a hero is a person noted for courageous acts of nobility of character. This resonates with all of the students, parents, teachers, principals and community leaders who take courageous steps forward each day to promote acceptance for all.
There are many ways to celebrate and promote inclusive practices. Here are a few ideas, ranging from small to big celebrations.
Create a puzzle poster with each students’ unique strengths. As a team, put the puzzle together and celebrate the diversity.
Encourage your students to think about inclusion through personal reflective writing. Ask them to write about a time that they felt included and a time that they didn’t feel included in a group. Talk about how it made them feel. Ask them how their experiences relate to anyone who is perceived as different and what challenges they might face in a school setting.
Make a handprint quilt with all of the students' handprints.
Have student-created sculptures shown in the cafeteria, celebrating diversity of thought and uniqueness.
Create chants and songs that celebrate uniqueness, individuality and persistence. Currently, this video of students chanting an inspiring mantra, "I am going to push through," is going viral.
Share a "Thought of the Day," celebrating diversity during morning announcements.
Provide treats for teachers, thanking them for their support in fostering inclusive environments for students. This can include things such as magnets, buttons and door hangers saying, "Kudos to you for including all!"
Create a library display of books on diversity, and use books such as "Emmanuel's Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah" by Laurie Thompson (for pre-K through 3rd grade), "Wonder" by R. J. Palacio (4th-6th grades), and "Out of My Mind" by Sharon Draper (6th-12th) to promote awareness of disabilities.
Personalize diversity by inviting students to write a list of all of their unique characteristics under a picture of themselves, or invite students to draw symbols (peace sign, heart, globe, etc.) of attributes that represent themselves in a collage. Display student work during the week, have students present their unique attributes to each other, and challenge students to find positive attributes of their peers.
Invite guest speakers to share information about disabilities, post celebrations on bulletin boards or web pages, or invite families of students with disabilities to speak.
Celebrate Inclusive Schools Week on your school marquee. Recognize the staff and families, thanking them for their support for fostering inclusive environments for students.
For even more ideas, visit InclusiveSchools.Org. Every step, big and small, can contribute towards building and sustaining a successful inclusive school community. Start today and be a champion of inclusion.
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