Education that is Multicultural: Inclusive Education 2

Blog # 11B

January 11, 2017

This blog is authored by Study Abroad in India student Moraima Avalos who is studying for an undergraduate degree in Childhood Education at the City College of New York. For her masters degree, she plans to major in Early Childhood to broaden her understanding of young children as she wants to focus predominantly on kindergarten students who live in troubled homes.

Today's focus on Inclusive classrooms was a topic close to home for me. Both my parents are licensed special education teachers. My mother is an occupational therapist in early childhood agencies and I have become accustomed to being near children with special needs and have a soft spot in my heart for them.

We took a long drive to the school and finally reached it. The school, located near a couple of other government and private schools, had a beautiful campus. You could tell from the outside that this was a wealthier school. It was more of a college campus feel or even a boarding school feel which was interesting being that this school welcomes so many children with disabilities. This made me think that the administration really cared for the comfort of the students.

As the director of the special need department spoke to us, she informed us of the importance of making all students feel connected with the rest of society. The vision of the department is that all children should be given equal opportunity. Their school was committed to inclusion and felt that it is part of their DNA. Since the opening of this school, more schools have now made inclusion classes a part of  their curriculum. “All children can learn, every child has a right to learn” and if we accept that then we all believe in inclusion. Their ways of preventing this is through sensitization and awareness about people with different needs and also learning to accept. Here in India, some people haven't accepted the thought of special needs kids due to lack of exposure, lack of knowledge and lack of motivation which leads to negative feelings and false beliefs.

We then divided into two groups, one group visiting the higher grade classrooms and the other visiting the early childhood classrooms. As I am interested in kindergarten, I decided to visit the younger grade classrooms to know the different ways they instill independence and creativity. As we walked through the beautifully, colored halls; all the halls were filled with artwork from the students. Some of the classes were REM (remedial department) with 1-30 students following a mainstream curriculum. Other classes are NIOS (National institute of Open Schooling) and last, CSE (Center of Special Ed). NIOS focuses on students who are interested in sports or other hobbies and don't have much time to focus on education so this gives them a slower pace with 1-2 subjects in a year but the same work. CSE focuses on students with I.E.P and a ratio of 1:6. They differentiate planning for each student at different levels and incorporate ADA programs which enhance daily living skills.  As we walked around the classrooms I could see the creativity integrated into the curriculum. We even saw a classroom that helps the students learn independent living so they can leave school with these schools. It is important to make everyone aware of the ability of all children to learn . This school’s vision was very inspiring and I'm happy they feel it is important to give all students the same opportunity.

9 responses
Having spent the last year working children with special needs in an ICT classroom - I really appreciated having an underlying sentiment said out loud by the school's administration - that some students with IEPS are more cognitively developed/brighter than their general ed. peers, but because of the over-stimulation, can’t function as well. This mindset is crucial in helping me understand the effective design/success of this school.
It hit a soft spot for me as well. The school had so many influential quotes that couldn't be more inspiring. The classes were amazing and packed with rich learning and context. I an thinking of getting an extension to my esrly childhood degree and it would pertain to children with special needs. Observing and learning all about this school boosted my energy to get that extension as soon as I can. Great pictures.
Something that stuck with me after this visit was the room with the bed and the real life equipment. Here, students are taught life skills for them to become more independent at home. For example, a student will learn how to set the table, so that child would be able to set the table for dinner at home. This stuck with me the most because we do not have anything like this in America. It made me think about how beneficial this would be to all students instead of special education students.
I loved how there were fun interactive group activities, like the art classes, as well as activities that would help the students live independently in the future. This institution definitely thought about the different ways to have the students prepared for the future as well as allowing the student to enjoys their childhood.
They had so many strategies to help students with special needs succeed, you explained it so well, Moraima. I also liked seeing one of the students taking pictures during the presentation, it shows how equal treatment applies outside of their classrooms.
Well said Moraima. I love all the positive quotes on the hallways and classrooms. It gives you a positive vibes as you read them and walk around. You can be able to feel the level of compassion from the staffs of the school and dedicated they seems to be. "Learning has no bound" and "Disability is not an inability" were the quotes that stuck with me. Learning should not be limited and each child deserve to be treated with respect. Each one also deserve patience and to be treated with love.
What a way to empower students while making them feel independent! I agree Erica that all the quotes are so powerful and have such strong meaning.
The work to make sure creativity is expressed without limitations was incredible! These children are also treated with respect and dignity. The school constantly expresses not only in words, but also in its actions that "Disability is not an inability". Yes, it takes a lot of love and patience, but with those virtues at hand any child can overcome any sized obstacle.
During this visit, I was mindful of the way teacher's spoke and interacted with the children. I have witnessed teachers in the U.S. snap and scream at children (special needs included) that misbehave. I was grateful to see that many of the teachers' were sensitive and patient to these students' special needs and all that comes with that.