3 Lessons We Learned from Implementing Inclusion

Since our program’s inception in 2001, we have striven to foster achievement through innovation, technology, and community. Implementing inclusion is no easy task, but it’s the fervent work by our paraeducators, teachers, therapists, and administration that keeps the Hope Technology School thriving. After 17 years of proudly serving families in the Bay Area, we have learned that implementing inclusion is something we are constantly learning how to innovate and apply in all of our classrooms. Here are three of the lessons we’ve learned from implementing inclusion.

Takes Time
If you view an inclusive class from both a micro and macro viewpoint, there are many underlying details that a teaching credential or graduate degree will not teach you. We will never see the full potential and power inclusion holds if we are impatient. Inclusion must be taught and it takes time. Why do we do this? Because it’s worth it.
– Teach students to be engaged and emotionally present when another student needs extra time as they struggle to respond to a question. Why? Students learn to respect their peers and everyone’s opinions and responses are valued
– If you’re a teacher… breathe. It’s going to be okay, it’s worth the wait
– Take the time to educate students that what’s fair, isn’t always equal. That means if a student needs 3 sensory breaks in order for them to remain focused, they will receive those breaks. As another student notices, we must educate and remind our little ones that everyone is different and it’s ok. We welcome different!

The Best Investment is Building Up Students
Providing the best education for students is both a privilege and a passion that we take seriously. As a school, we have learned that in order to establish an environment where every student can thrive academically, physically, and socially, we must invest in our students. This takes more than following a lesson plan and adhering to state standards.
– Take another deep breathe in and choose to believe that the extra 2 minutes you take to get to know about your student’s weekend, favorite movie, or listening to them ramble about the rock they tripped on during recess will be worth it!
– Make a list from the students you know best to the students you know least. Make a goal to get to know something about your students every week.
– Embrace your inner child! Be out of yourself and let your students see your silly side too.

Educators Must Believe
Inclusion will not work if the teacher does not believe it will. There are many days that feel strenuous and laborsome. We’ve learned that without vision and goals for a student and classroom, we begin to count more of the bad days than the good. It’s essential for an educator to respect the amount of hard work it takes to build something great!
– This week, give the student who gives you the hardest time a compliment! Show and tell them that you believe in them. Belief goes such a long way!
– Take time to see the challenges you’re up against this school year and make a game plan, have a vision for yourself and your class
– Believe in yourself, you became a teacher to inspire and educate hundreds of lives. You were meant to do this!

Regardless of their ability or disability, every student will learn and have their needs met and that will look differently and that’s ok. So from HTS to you, continue to believe! Don’t quit on your students, it will pay off.