Monday, August 14, 2017

Looking Back to Look Forward

I have spent some time these last few days looking back through the 13+ years of my writings on both this blog and my personal blog before this (Red Lights). I started blogging about a month after my son started kindergarten. We are now just over two weeks away from him starting his last year in school. It seems to have gone by in the blink of an eye. Yet when I look back through the years of writing about first his life experiences and later how those experiences shaped my beliefs and career, the early days of his kindergarten year seem a long time ago. A lot has happened. There have been a lot of celebrations and a lot of frustrations. I could write a book about the things that I wish I could go back and "do over" but also recognize that we would not be in this moment in time without all those things... and that it matters that we are in this moment in time. It is where we are supposed to be right now.

In the past couple of years I have come often to the page on my blog where one starts a new post and I have begun to write only to hit a block and then eventually just go on to do something else. Yet it keeps pulling me back. I wonder what to blog about.

As I looked back through my posts, it is clear to me that much has changed. There is a part of me that wants to take down posts that outline excited plans about teaching life skills in a segregated classroom as it doesn't connect to what I believe in. It seems important though to keep them up there; To recognize and remember the journey. To remember that sometimes we pull into things that we believe will create safety but then come to see it does the opposite. When I look at it though it seems a bit odd that my writing became blocked at the point of finally clarifying my beliefs and truly working toward connecting them to my actions.

I question why. Did I get too busy? Did I not feel the need to write to clarify anymore because there was less turmoil? Did I find other ways to share rather than writing? Did I realize my audience and become afraid? Was there a piece of wanting to protect it all from the scrutiny of people who have a different perspective of what success is? Did I come to recognize that my son's story needs to his to share rather than mine? Perhaps it was little pieces of all those reasons and a whole array of others.

These past couple of years have brought about more changes for me and I'm not seeing an end to that for a while yet as life will become different again when my son graduates in the spring.

Even though my job had transitioned from self-contained classroom teacher in a single school to support teacher in multiple schools, we had maintained the room that I had been in as a support space that all students had access to through to the end of this past year. It has now transitioned to a classroom in the school. For me it is a concrete sign of not going back; Of continuing to find a path forward. I have been spending time this summer going through everything that was in the room, purging some it and a categorizing the rest to use as supports for the inclusive education of the population of students we used to segregate in the classroom I taught in.  In these next couple of weeks before school starts I will finish that job and set up my office and then begin another year.

Each year things change - with my son, in my life, in my job - but the changes are often so incremental that they are hard to see until you get to a moment where you stop and look back. I seem to come back to what my goal was with blogging when Mikey was only five years old often now. Is it possible to somehow capture not just the moments but the thoughts of the moments in writing?

The blogs I've written through the years have taken many different focuses and it feels like it is time again for another twist in the road in the hopes of bringing the pieces together. As I began writing a blog about work-related topics, I stopped writing a blog about parenting my son. In my work for a long time I tried to separate parenting a child with a disability from the work I was doing around the education of students with disabilities. Then I came to a point where I recognized that bringing the two together mattered; That inclusive education could never be about just education; That it needed to be about life.

As a new school year is about to begin it feels like the right time to commit to blogging again. I feel like there are so many things to write about: my involvement with Inclusion Alberta (a parent advocacy organization) in the past few years, learning more deeply about Shanker Self-Reg and how it feels to be one of those things you search for all your life, my hopes and dreams for my son as we move through this upcoming transition year and beyond...etc. I need to connect with what I would do in the past and just sit down and write and see what came out.

And so it begins again...

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Inclusive Education: From Political Correctness Towards Social Justice

A great video that explores the benefits and common questions about inclusive education.


"Children with disabilities are among the most marginalized and excluded groups of children; routinely, they are denied their right to quality education (WHO and World Bank, 2011). Policies vary considerably worldwide, with some countries prioritizing education for these children in different settings: special schools and centres; special classes in integrated schools; or inclusive schools which work to identify and remove barriers, and to enable every learner to participate and achieve in mainstream settings. Establishing inclusive schools is widely regarded as desirable for equality and human rights, and it has educational, social and economic benefits (UNESCO, 2001)."

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Great Quote - Erna Alant

I have just started reading the book Augmentative and Alternative Communication: Engagement and Participation by Erna Alant. The book looks at supporting both AAC users and communication partners in developing both engagement and participation in dialogue. Participation refers to the frequency and nature of participation and includes many of the things that we commonly target when planning AAC interventions. Engagement is about the level of enjoyment experienced in interactions, the types of topics discussed, and the level of emotional resonance between the partners. Interventions using this framework include enhancing awareness and understanding in the AAC user of his own/her own interests, actions and feelings as well as enhancing the user's understanding of an interest in his/her communication partners. I'm looking forward to digging further in to this book!