Sometimes we get so caught up in wanting to get to a dream that we forget to pause and look around us.
2.5 months ago we made the decision to take one of our students who had been in our self contained setting for a few years now and rework his schedule so tha the was included in a "regular classroom" for the core academic part of his day. It was an experiment and done in response to a whole host of issues. This is a little boy who has a list of "challenges" a mile long.
When he first went in to the classroom my concern was not that he was accepted but that he was "too accepted". Everyone was babying him, arguing to push his wheelchair, talking to the learning assistant that was in the room as an extra set of hands as if she was his ears. It was frustrating and heart breaking to me as I want so much more for him than that he is just a class mascot.
And then some moments...
The first moment that another little boy in the class stated to his teacher that it was not fair that our student got to do announcements with the principal everyday and nobody else did. For me, the fact that this little boy saw it as a matter of fair or not meant that he had moved to an equal playing field.
And then there was the day that I was in the room talking with the teacher as the kids started to come in from recess. Our little guy came in and spotted me, wheeled over and asked me if they had library today. I told him to ask a friend as I did not know. I remembered those first days when we had to teach him how to get another student's attention because when he was a novelty (only going in for "specials") others would initiate with him instead of it having to be the other way around. And I watched him that day confidently getting another students attention, asking his question, getting his answer and moving around amoung the kids until they were all settled (including him) and paying attention to the teacher. And it was wonderful!
Today I popped in to their gym class. And watched as they finished a game and came back to the circle in the middle to decide on the next game and give rules. They had a sub today and the sub asked them to pick a game. One little girl named a game and the sub responded by asking her how she played it. The little girl began to explain the game and needed some names of people to describe so she named the people who were sitting beside her in her explanation... and as she came to this student, she did not skip over him, she did not stumble on his name, she did not pause and give him a cute little look... she just named him the same as every other child. It may seem like nothing but from where we came it is huge.
I can choose to get caught up in all the details or I can just keep looking for the moments and trying to set things in place that will hopefully create more moments. I can choose to worry about what the whole school or whole division is doing or I can figure out what I can do for my students. I can get angry at a world that does not yet fully accept people with disabilities or I can find a way to set my students up to be accepted by others.
I need to step back, take a breath and always act with the interests of the students that I have right now first and foremost instead of concentrating on too large of a picture. I can't show the whole world but there is a part of the world that my students can touch if I do my job as teacher, facilitator and advocate.