“When you test your kids…”
“I want to make sure your kids get what they need.”
“What should we do about your kids?”
As a special education teacher, I cannot count how many times I have heard general education teachers use some of the above phrases, referring to students with disabilities. As role models to the children with whom we interact daily, it is crucial we model inclusive actions, speech, and mindsets.
In a co-taught model, students with and without disabilities learn alongside each other, with two teachers in room– a general educator and a special educator. I have heard it said that in an effective co-taught classroom, no one should be able to tell which teacher is the special education teacher and which is the general education teacher. These teachers are full equals, and so are their students. I strive to make co-teaching a more enriching inclusive experience for students with disabilities. However, I also genuinely believe that, when done well, this structure serves all children well and can provide additional support that typically-developing children sometimes need. All students are my students.
It is disheartening to hear some educators using this language of “your kids” and “my kids” because we should all strive to support all children. While I am sure speech like this is not meant maliciously, it does not extend the inclusivity we want to see in our students, and it certainly does not allow inclusive mindsets among staff to flourish. Whether you are a camp counselor finishing up your full summer or an educator preparing for the next school year, take this summer to think about what you can do or say to promote inclusivity between children and staff alike!
–Written by Elise Hopkins, KIT Blog Editor
Kids Included Together (KIT) is a non-profit located in San Diego, CA and Washington, DC. We help make the world a more inclusive place by providing live and online training to people who work with kids. We teach strategies, accommodations and best practices to include kids with and without disabilities in before & after school programs. Inclusive environments create stronger communities. Learn more about our work at www.KITonline.org.