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It’s officially September, which can only mean one thing… back to school time! As students and teachers are heading back to the classroom, I wanted to share some great resources about the importance of developing inclusive communities within the classroom, on the playground and outside of school. Take a look at the resources below and ask yourself, “Is my school an inclusive school?”

First up, Andrea Cahn, Senior Director of Special Olympics Project UNIFY, and Betty Edwards, Chairman of the National Education Leadership Network, share an important message about furthering youth development and positive growth.

Take a sneak peek below and check out the entire post on the Special Olympics Project UNIFY blog.  

“Do you remember the bittersweet excitement at the beginning of every school year? Summer was ending, yes, but for many of us, each September meant a fresh beginning—new teachers, a pristine three-ring binder or box of crayons, crisp just-bought clothes, the promise of achievement in the air. We felt the tingle of anticipation of friendships yet unformed, great successes still to be dreamed, and new discoveries of the world and ones’ self. We set foot onto the freshly waxed floors excited to see friends, participate in after-school activities, and to learn. For others, school never quite lived up to expectations and getting on the bus in the morning was a time of intimidation and concern — and for some, school was, and still is, a simply devastating experience.

The excitement for school starts at kindergarten, when the angst is often greater for the parent than the child. But that wide-eyed exuberance fades in a less supportive, inclusive school. Just as Sir Kenneth Robinson talks about our schools draining the creativity out of our students, so can the natural curiosity and joy of learning evaporate if children are not provided with the opportunity to be central to and engaged in the learning experience.” Read more.

Next check out excerpts from two great blog post from our friends at ASCD’s Whole Child:
Do You Know an Inclusive School? By William Hughes

“We have all seen schools that are struggling to be inclusive. Places where adults and youth and students with and without disabilities all seem disconnected. Places where there are clear differences or where there are distinguished characteristics between general and special education programs—students in isolated areas of the schoolhouse, a lack of attention to participation by students with disabilities in school programs and classes, or lack of respect for their well-being.

Inclusive schools are places where all children can learn and be successful within a shared academic environment. Inclusive opportunities for youth and children that help them become self-determined, productive and socially involved citizens.”

Read the whole post here.

Designing a Classroom for Inclusive Learning by Nicole Eredics

“While teachers and schools gradually move to more inclusive programming, it is also necessary for them to pay close attention to the physical space and design of the classroom. In fact, the physical arrangement of a classroom environment will largely determine if and how inclusion will happen. Therefore, creating an inclusive learning environment isn’t just about changing attitudes, support systems, and activities. It is also about rearranging the physical space to accommodate the various needs that exceptional children have.”

Read the whole post here.

Finally, check out this fun video for elementary-aged students called “What is Inclusion”. Definitely a great resource for the classroom!

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