I have been doing a lot of reading over the past few days around innovation and inclusion. I am struggling with where I want to take my studies, where do I want to dig into my practice as a teacher and a mentor. I was feeling like I wanted to focus on how I encourage others to take part in professional development. Now I feel that has changed.
Today I feel I would like to do what I have always done for my students. I want to empower, I want to be innovative, I want to inspire. I think my biggest obstacle is knowing that I am good at what I do. My heart and mind has always been in the right place, and yes I know it has been questioned and sometimes convinced I was wrong…not going with my gut. In the end I know what I stand for and I know why I teach.
I look around and I become frustrated with our school system, I see what it can be and I want change. I believe I have been going at it in a very wrong way. I have realized I need to go back to where my heart lies, the students. I have many students who have stayed in my heart for years, and it is those kids that inspire me to make a difference. I hold on to those moments I had with them, when nothing was said but it was known that something great was happening.
Reading, Sokal and Katz article,”Oh Canada: Bridges and Barriers to Inclusion in Canadian Schools” made me go back in my teaching career and it reminded me of the role of the teacher. They started speaking of pre-service teachers and the lack of programs and training, and in my head I was screaming, NO! We are the role models not only for the teachers but more importantly the students. It is our responsibility to model what inclusion is.
Sokal and Katz talk about how we in Canada seem to be missing the social inclusion piece, and that that is where my heart is. The students observe and take note of how we work with each student and staff member in our rooms and hallways. They see our daily interactions and they copy us. I do not need to explain why one student is allowed to have a calculator or why one student is allowed to take a break, or why some of us would rather talk about the lessons than write about it. I value each of my students for who they each are, and that is what I want I inspire in my students, to see each other as who they are.
Sokal and Katz discuss the third need of attention in Canadian schools, mental health. For me, this is my struggle right now. I realize that because I am who I am, I am given the students who need to be seen and heard and in all the ways they demand it. I can not say no, and I don’t think I would ever turn a child away. This year and last year have been a bumpy journey. I feel that I am missing some understanding of mental health, and I seek out people and readings to help me find ways to better understand my students.Yes, it takes time but in the long run that is what we do as learners.
This winter I hit a wall. I am feeling I am spread too thin,I am tired, I am worried, I am overwhelmed, and I am afraid for some of my students. I feel that there is not enough of me to give the attention my students need me to give. Another thing I am this year, is disappointed. I am disappointed of the lack of support we have, I am disappointed with the lack of leadership around inclusion we have, I am disappointed seeing my students in a new grade shoved to side and excluded after being a part of a community for two years, I am disappointed with how tired we are, and how many of us are just getting through the day. I am disappointed in myself for not staying positive.
For me, to stay positive, I know what I need to do. I am going back to my SEL roots, and I am going to focus on the students. That is why I do what I do, to inspire to comfort, to hold up, to encourage, and to see and hear my students. If by chance I am able to inspire others around me to do the same, then I am okay with that too. I need to remind myself that my positivity and outlook can be reflected into my students, just like when they see how I treat each individual that comes into our school.