As a preservice teacher I wanted to share an inspiring video shared by Think Inclusive via Twitter earlier today. A bright, passionate, intelligent young lady by the name of Megan Bomgaars spoke up to educators about how the biggest disservice in allowing her in our classroom would be if we limit her capabilities. I think it is extremely important for teachers to get to know their learners, get to know the skills, talents, and dreams each one possesses. Deciding who can or cannot learn in our classroom validates our inabilities to meet the needs of all of our learners, it does not accurately determine the capabilities of each student.
Megan makes an excellent point that it isn’t our job as teachers to only teach subject-based outcomes to our students, we should also be teaching transferable skills and behaviors for them to take away with them and use outside of school. Teachers cannot limit their students by deciding who is permanently dependent of others or lowering the expectations of anyone. Some goals may be harder to reach or may take longer to accomplish, but nonetheless every student should have the same opportunity to be successful and should receive necessary assistance and guidance to do so. My favorite quote from Megan’s video was, “Teach me respect. Respect is give and take”; along with life skills, teaching independence, safety, and a strong voice to speak up is essential. If we practice exclusion in our classrooms, we are deliberately teaching our students that this is OK in society as well and they will take that behavior into their lives outside of school.
“Good teachers teach and learn with their students”, another golden message from Megan. In education we always preach the importance of acceptance and inclusion of all cultures, suggesting culturally diverse students should teach the class about their history and culture. This is an excellent idea, so why don’t we take into the consideration the thought of classmates or peers with disabilities speaking to students without disabilities about their successes or struggles as well. No information is more accurate than when it comes from that particular individual themselves, and if a safe, accepting classroom environment is created from day one this type of conversation can be extremely powerful.
I have always been a strong advocate for Inclusive Education, and this final semester of my university career has fueled that fire even more. Between my Ed Psychology course, ECMP learning project, and my new Inclusive Ed family on Twitter, I feel even more passionate and comfortable about ensuring inclusion exists within my future classroom.
Please watch the video below and see how Megan’s powerful message can inspire you! Just remember, erase all limitations.