Inclusive Teachers Must Be ‘Asset-Based Believers'
By Larry Ferlazzo
This article, originally published on EdWeek, features Melissa Davis, who works on our Building the Bridge podcast.
The new question-of-the-week is:
How can we best support students in “special education” programs in their return to “normal” classroom instruction?
In Part One, Elizabeth Stein, Ed.D., Ann Stiltner, Ann H. Lê, and Amy Gaines shared their advice. All four were also guests on my 10-minute BAM! Radio Show. You can also find a list of, and links to, previous shows here.
Today, Savanna Flakes, Melissa Davis, Anne Beninghof, and Kathryn A. Welby, Ed.D., finish-up this series.
Savanna Flakes is CEO and chief education consultant of Inclusion For a Better Future and provides professional development and school coaching to support teachers with effective instructional practices for students with exceptionalities. Savanna has published a host of instructional articles and her latest book, Shaking Up Special Education: Instructional Moves to Increase Student Achievement is now available:
When we unpack the term “inclusive practices,” it is both about ideology, that every student deserves an equal chance to succeed, and action, which moves us to proactively plan to remove barriers and add supports based on the student. Together, ideology and action provide ALL students with opportunity for emotional and academic achievement. Therefore, as inclusive teachers, our goal is to be an asset-based believer and subsequently, a doer, empowering students with exceptionalities to enhance their strengths and grow in their challenges.
When students are empowered to reflect on who they are as a learner, how they learn best, and resources that help them achieve learning goals, they develop agency and can advocate for their learning (which, I would argue is the purpose of special education services). The most critical support we can add for our students with exceptionalities at the beginning of the new school year is the opportunity to create a “Me Profile.” A “Me Profile” is an organized, student-friendly chart that allows students to record their strengths, interest, challenges, and resources (tools and strategies) for challenge areas. Students revisit their chart as they reflect on learning goals for the curriculum, and teachers confer with students regularly to discuss progress.
Are you ready for the good news about a “Me Profile?” This strategy can benefit every learner in our P-12 classrooms, and there is no right or wrong template! Here are three steps for implementation success: