By Megan Davis-Hitchens, Director of the NYC Special Education Collaborative
When we say, “We do inclusion,” what do we mean?
In my third year attending CHIME Charter School’s Creating Inclusive Schools conference, I continue to experience shifts in my conceptualization of inclusion. By observing and learning directly from the teachers and school leaders at CHIME, it becomes clear that behind their inclusive systems are highly passionate and committed educators - educators who believe, whole-heartedly, that all students can be successful and truly belong in their school community. They continuously adapt, modify, shift, and learn, in order to ensure that all students are included.
In working to develop more inclusive environments, some people believe you have to first focus on shifting mindset or getting staff buy-in. Others believe that you have to start by revising systems and reprioritizing resources for increased inclusion. Regardless of the approach, leaders and educators must understand that continuous self-reflection and evaluation are the real keys to ensuring success for all students.
The nation’s renowned experts on inclusion agree with leaders from the top inclusive schools in the country - the moment you say you’re inclusive, the moment you think you’ve got it, you’ve only just started. There will always be a new challenge, a new growth area, and a new set of skills to build. True inclusion is a constantly evolving practice that requires an entire school community to continuously reflect, develop, learn, grow, and never believe that a single student belongs anywhere else but at their school.
We asked schools to reflect on their level of inclusion and what they hoped to gain from the three-day intensive conference. Check out these pre- and post- CHIME experiences:
The NYC Special Education Collaborative regularly hosts events, workshops, and school visits aimed at building more inclusive learning environments. If you are interested in focusing more intentionally on inclusion, please reach out to Megan Davis-Hitchens, Director of the NYC Special Education Collaborative.