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Inclusive Education - Contents of Subject Reflections

Initial Thoughts - Date submitted: 3rd March 2019

1. What does diversity mean to you?

Diversity means a wide range in a particular scope. In terms of a group of people, it usually refers to a group of people with different physical and socio-economic characteristics.

2. What does disability mean?

A disability is a physical or psychological trait which may hinder an individual's experience of the world around6. I find that people with disabilities are stronger and have a more positive outlook on life.

3. What does inclusive education mean for you in your role?

Inclusive education means that I as the teacher should reflect upon and plan for all children and families involved in my classroom, regardless of physical and socio-economic characteristics6.

4. What are your hopes about your role as an inclusive professional?

I hope that all students I teach will feel a sense of pride and accomplishment in the work they do in my classroom, and that I nor anyone will question their worth while they put in work, just like everyone does in life.

5. What are your concerns or fears about your role as an inclusive professional?

I fear that there will be instances where I don't understand a particular background or disability and won't properly know how to act or react to the individual involved, especially with regard to the areas of mental health.

6. Should all children be fully included into regular education settings? Why?

Yes, because if we as a society want them included, then we also need to teach all of our children how to build each other up and want the best for each other, regardless of background. School should not be individualistically merit-based, but should venerate groups as a whole, selflessness, and building each other up. Interpersonal learning is more important that academia6.

Barriers In Settings - Date submitted: 10th March 2019

Identify an example of barriers to doing and barriers to being in early years practice and examine this in relation to facilitating inclusive education. Why is it important to carefully consider your own language use – as a person generally, and specifically as a teacher?

An example of a barrier to doing and being is the consideration of ailments viewed as solely medical, thus something to be fixed12. Considering an ailment as a disability is just as much a social restraint as a personal or medical one, perhaps even more so.

By considering an ailment as a restrictive barrier, this creates a sense of "us" and "them" between so-called "normal people" and those with any particular ailment5. By putting up barriers, we are unable to include everyone just as they are, and help everyone to grow in their own way at their own pace. Taken to the extreme, everyone has something which has the potential to restrict them from "normal" participation, so to draw a line in the sand to say that some barriers are barriers and some barriers are not barriers is not just discrimination, but illogical12. This is ableism25.

The steps we could take to remove these barriers can include: continual communication with families to see how they relate to and view their children; writing the curriculum and room plans for all families and children and not just to the curriculum or a select few, and; providing opportunities for educators to engage with each child which can inform the previous two points24.

In every scenario, the use of language implies a person's thoughts, even if not specifically said8. The tone of speech implies how the speaker views the person they are speaking to, and the order of nouns and adjectives as well as what is left out implies what the speaker views the subject. So, in terms of discussing disabilities and impairments, the item put first in a sentence implies importance. So when talking about a specific person with an ailment, whether the ailment or the person is mentioned first in a person's sentence implies the assumed power and control8. Disability-first language implies that the disability is the main part of a person; person-first language implies that a person is a person first, then has an ailment as a smaller part of their personality.

The difficulty in this distinction is that everyone is a person, so in a sense it may be easier or quicker to identify someone by what makes them unique than what makes them the same. However, by doing this, people may be categorised in a way they would not like to be. This type of categorisation furthers the concepts of ableism. So, to break down the concepts of ableism we should focus on what makes us all the same: the fact that we are all people6. This will help us in planning for all classroom interactions as we want to plan for all people rather than for specific types of people.

Familial Experiences - Date submitted: 17th March 2019

What insights have you gained from the experiences shared by families in the lecture and readings this week? How do these insights impact on your understanding of disability and inclusion and how do these insights inform your current or future thinking and practice in working with children and families?

The insights I have gained cover the meaning and effect of words such as ailment, impairment, disability, as well as their practised meaning through terms such as non-finite loss. For many children who experience disability, they do so because of the restrictions various facets of society put upon that person rather than specifically stemming from their ailment directly9. The attitude of the teacher is paramount in a classroom setting5, 47, especially as children are not defined by their impairment alone9.

The impact teachers can have on all students can be one of great triumph or one of great disappointment41. Teachers should be planning from the basis of, how can we get all students to learn from this part of the curriculum, rather than including the word if at any stage. With that mindset, all children with different strengths, weaknesses, and capabilities should be able to participate and learn from each experience18. Physical things which may help some children can include using various forms of communication such as speaking, writing, drawing, iPads, computers, or non-verbal communications such as facial expressions. Limited access to these may hinder some children in participating in each lesson. Other things which may restrict teachers' lessons from reaching all children is poor planning - especially not taking in varying learning styles into account - or not accounting for group dynamics or group work such that all children may feel a sense of respect and belonging for each other, thus a natural desire to include each other. Another ideal teachers may subscribe to is the construction of feedback13, whether it is presented positively or negatively. To build each child up, teachers should give positive constructive feedback at every necessary instance. To treat certain children negatively through poor planning, limited communication availabilities, or certain attitudes presented through language choice or even explicit discouragement is not the role of the teacher, no matter who the child. Thus the role of teachers is to teach all children to the best of each of their abilities, in communication with their families5, 6, 9, 10, 24.

For the family who was part of the lecture, ableism was present against them in many ways. Where the teachers did not mirror the parents' enthusiasm for their child starting school is a clear example of teachers not supporting families or children as is expected of them. Also, teachers were unwilling to make changes to the curriculum and structure of the school to accommodate any child out of their ideal of a 'normal child'. By providing for all children, teachers may be able to break a cycle of 'non-finite loss' as an impairment may never disappear, but the view of that impairment may change. So instead of grieving the impairment, teachers should encourage the families alongside their children to participate and learn in the ways they are able24, 25, 47.

Accessibility In The Classroom - Date submitted: 24th March 2019

Discuss how you might listen to "the hundred languages" of children, and how you might incorporate AAC into your teaching practice, as a valued universal approach, to remove barriers to communication.

The hundred languages of people, and especially of children, mean that teachers have to utilise many forms of communication when speaking with families and their children7, 14, 27. Every person listens, acts, and reacts through different methods and styles46. For teachers to utilise the Participation Model in all they aim to teach26 means that all children will have their communicative desires met. Through this, teachers should be asking, how can all children participate in the task at hand?.

Techniques to foster this kind of inclusion for all children can include: use of verbal language; use of tonal variation; accompanying hand gestures or body movements; use of AusLan or Key Sign; accompanying written documents in Braille or various other languages appropriate to the class; use of screen readers or digital descriptors such as JAWS, Apple Voice Over for Mac and for iPhone, and; communication assistance with visual or physical cues and prompts.

One of the goals of the teacher is to balance each individual's needs with the needs of the overall group as well as other individuals' needs1. This means that teachers need to consider these possibilities during the planning of their lessons, allowing pedagogy to influence the curriculum being taught to each child11. These methods should not be practised in a way which may be viewed as exclusive, but available to all children as they themselves deem necessary. So if a child, who we as a teacher may have not identified as needing a screen reader such as JAWS, benefits from using such a tool, then we should have it available for their use.

Furthermore, we should have a series of checks we should assess and formulate our lesson plans upon with regard to assessment for learning. We should:

  1. observe previous forms of learning assessment;
  2. emphasise how children can learn and assist their learning;
  3. support potential self-assessment;
  4. relate to educational practices;
  5. be sensitive and constructive, with skills beneficial to the children;
  6. foster motivation for learning in children;
  7. understand children where they are;
  8. recognise educational achievement11.

Through checking our lesson plans against these points, teachers may be able to teach regardless of background or situation of the students27, 43.

A situation where I experienced this on professional experience was during a mathematics lesson, where some students were asked to complete a certain number of questions out of the textbook, other students were asked to show their working. This is not to penalise againstmathematics – rather, to aid to their mathematical competence as most children had a decent mathematical grasp but some found difficulty in reading the school-mandated textbook, while others' literacy skills were sufficient for them to show working in a separate book. In this, every child's numeracy skills were developed so they all understood the mathematical processes, while each student was supported in their capabilities26.

Labels Surrounding Gender & Disbaility - Date submitted: 31st March 2019

Examine your paradigms, your beliefs, and your prejudices about the world in general, about disability, and especially about autism, and about gender. What sort of paradigms do you have? What sort of assumptions do you make? Is it time to make a change?

The prejudices I may have may stem from my upbringing, as well as my own reactions to my upbringing12, 22, 29. At my preschool, there was no child who had a disability, thus I didn't even know that disability was a thing, let alone how I could or should react to someone with a disability. At my primary school, there was one class with one teacher for those with a mental disability, which students were able to be a part of from years two to six. Throughout primary school, I only had two classmates with mental disabilities, one with a global learning delay, and one with what was at the time called Asperger's. I led Peer Support alongside two schoolmates from the separate class, both of which were on the mild end of the spectrum of their ailments, which I never found out about. Throughout high school, mental ailments were never talked about, nor particularly accommodated for. I had one classmate who had a physical disability, and she had classes moved so she could participate, and also had access to one elevator which meant she could attend classes on the second level of most of the buildings. Furthermore, a couple of my family friends have a visual impairment.

For the most part, my upbringing informed the opinion that those with an impairment struggled with "normal life"12. However, as I grew up with the family friends and as I worked and studied over the past eight years after high school, I have come to realise how all people are different. My current job in retail means I have to look for the customer's needs, and fulfil it in a potentially different way every time. So too with my future teaching position. In conclusion, my current situations should inform my views of all people and how I should act and react to all people in all situations39.

Smith challenges us to consider how, in 'teachable moments' we push back against dominant discourses and open possibilities for a more inclusive future. Review the case study 3.18, p.57 and address the related critical reflection questions:

1. What does Gina mean by the word 'normal' in her card? Why is this problematic?

1. All Gina meant by the word 'normal' was that she didn't think about her wheelchair as a hindrance. However, the interpretation of that statement could be that having to use a wheelchair makes them not normal8. Although it was intended as a friendly gesture, it could have the opposite effect.

2. What might be shaping Gina's views?

2. One of the things shaping Gina's view could be the same thing which shaped my view as a primary-school-aged child, is that Gina has not had enough positive interaction with those with an ailment to view them as not any different to everyone else37, 38, 39.

3. If you were Gina's teacher, how would you respond in this situation?

3. One way to respond would be to have a one-on-one conversation with Gina to educate her on a better way to verbalise her affection for her best friend. Another way would be to prepare a unit of work to see how people react to different statements, or even how everyone reacts differently to any situation1.

4. Reflecting on this exercise further, draw out your thinking in relation to 'normalising' of gender.

4. Labels and distinctions should be used for helping all people participate in any and every situation. If we didn't have labels, everyone would be treated exactly the same, which puts many people out of opportunities. However, these labels should be used for making all situations equitable. All labels, including labels surrounding gender, should be an informing factor in how to treat people in any situation, to make all situation equitable so all people can have equal access8.

Disability Equity Education - Date submitted: 7th April 2019

Reflecting on the importance of moving from ableist notions of 'disability awareness' to disability equity education, provide an example of how you would engage children in social justice education for inclusion:

1. Define Disability Equity Education.

Disability Equity Education is about teaching against the ideals of hatred, discrimination, apathy, the normalisation of injustice, the destruction of imagination28. If we teach children without thinking about why we teach what we do, we do not teach with equity. However, if we question what we teach and how it applies to each child, we are on the way to teaching with equity1.

2. Consider the notion of public pedagogy and outline the role that children would take in this process.

The process of public pedagogy includes the following: citizenship; pedagogical theory on everyday life; public spaces as educational areas; dominant cultural discourses, and; general discourse. Children can contribute to the discourses in all areas, as they have their own unique views to bring to any scenario40. If children feel as though they belong to a particular group or particular area - that is, citizenship - they may be willing to contribute to the furthering of their own and other's understandings of each other and of content21. It could be seen as the teacher's responsibility to apply their understandings of theory, current research, and the curriculum to the classroom so children can participate in the aforementioned citizenship and discourse.

3. Reflect on the materials and spaces that you would engage children with and considerations for inclusion.

Some materials and spaces which may engage children with inclusion may include media which includes people with a disability21, 12. Some media may succumb to some of the pitfalls of disability fiction, which includes: dehumanising through othering; the second-human phenomenon; a lack of realism; ailment for an outsider, or; only happy endings will fix one with an ailment. As long as these pitfalls are not present in the media used, then it will be beneficial for use in the classroom, regardless of people present in the classroom.

4. Describe how you would scaffold the experience to work towards deeper understandings and practices of inclusion.

Ways I could foster deeper understandings is to implement discussions around each book, no matter the characterisation or message3, 35. The first step would be for the class to read the book together, then for the children to read the books in small groups or individually, then write reports on different aspects of the book by asking questions such as who the main or secondary characters were, what was liked or what could be improved, or even a more in depth analysis of the beginning, the problem, and the solution of the book, providing opportunity for children to think about how they would have improved each portion of the book, discussed first through dialoguing in a group environment then asking each child to think how they would individually apply it to the media at hand.

Toys & Barriers - Date submitted: 14th April 2019

"Children already face having to comprehend too much information ... they have to learn about stranger danger, they have to deal with divorce, they have to learn about terrorism, they have to learn about sustainability, they have to learn about obesity, they have to learn to compete, and much more. So let them have fun and laughter with happy toys".
Discuss your thoughts towards this statement, and consider how you would respond to this in a supportive way if it were expressed by your colleague working with children in the early years. It may be helpful to consider: the medical and social model of disability; inclusion; the affirmation model of disability; disability awareness vs. disability equity education, and; the importance of representations of disability/impairment in children"s media.

While I agree with the initial sentiment of the quote, I disagree with most of the implied necessity and its conclusion. It implies that learning is a necessity which has to be done no matter what. This is contrary to all research and curriculum utilised in Australia. Sutton-Smith42 said that toys teach about the world which means that no matter which toys or items children interact with, they will understand their world through them. It is our human nature to learn, to have curiosity about the world around us. However, if we have everything in the world around us in front of us at the same time, then any person would be overwhelmed. There have been countless cultures and ways of living throughout historical and contemporary times, so all this information at the same time would mean that people would not know where to begin with all the information21; however, by by having a few things which children can interact with and garner an understanding from, they may be able to understand their surroundings through them39. Thus, as teachers and parents, we need to work alongside children to construct understandings of the surrounding world. The human interaction aspect of play is just as important to children's understandings through play than the actual toys or items themselves.

In relation to inclusivity, this means that if, how, and why we include people means children will learn that the world is oriented in that particular way7. If books, dolls, and other toys represent people with an impairment as deficient or in need of help, then that is how children will think the world treats these people. So too if these items reflect that all people with an impairment should always get special treatment or have a happy ending, then children will assume those with an impairment always need charity or extra help to get to a 'normal' level of happiness. But if our books, dolls, and other toys reflect equitable attitudes towards everyone, then children with their natively curious attitudes will learn how to be equitable. And this will inform their attitudes towards everything else in life, quite opposite to the quote in the question.

"In terms of disability I believe that barriers are imposed upon people affected by disability, by a society that is unwilling to change. It doesn't have to be this way. I'm not sure what it would take for this to change"educator eight in Wright, 2017.
Reflecting on this quote, discuss what it will take to change and continue shifting societal views of disability towards a social mode perspective. Describe how you will support educators in early childhood centres to become more inclusive. Discuss barriers that need to identified and challenged. Consider how you will identify and challenge barriers to support inclusive education in early childhood centres.

There are three things which can contribute to a more equitable society: identification and discussion of potential barriers; identification and discussion of potential solutions to breaking barriers, and; implementation. This three-step process can be implemented in any setting, from workplaces to school, from government agencies to interactions on the street in everyday life.

In supporting inclusion in early childhood centres, the discourse should start from the ideal that "the possibility of exclusion should be removed,"29. Furthermore, people are only unique when we are all together. If we split people based off any difference, then we become less unique and individualised. This means that to support early childhood centres, we need to work out ways to include everyone in the same experiences. However, this does not mean that labels should not exist8. Labels for varied impairments can provide others with understanding, but these labels should be informed by the families and discussed between families and teachers. To further include all children in centre experiences, activities and toys should be tailored towards inclusive play and understandings of others. Depending upon the children at the centre, this may mean that areas and main fixtures should be accessible for those with a physical ailments. This does mean that items such as books and dolls should reflect the variety of people not just at the centre but in society as a whole21, 29. This point is reflected in the previous question. Barriers to this kind of inclusivity is that there not all people may be represented in commercially produced good which may be purchased for the centre. However, this may be remedied by asking the community to contribute hand-made or home-made goods for the centre's use. This way, a sense of community and a sense of belonging by contributing to a sense of inclusivity14, 30.

I could identify and challenge behaviours by open communications about these hand-made and home-made goods to provide inclusivity. These items may be more than just a conversation starter but as a focal point for discussions as to how impairment or other differences can affect individuals or others; this discourse can affect how teachers can prepare experiences in the centre for children to develop understandings and empathy of themselves and of others. which are both featured strongly in the EYLF14, 30.

Behaviour Management - Date submitted: 5th May 2019

What is a behaviour which you find challenging? Explain and justify what strategies you think you might be able to use to inclusively support children who express such behaviours in your class.

One particular behaviour I find challenging is the attitude of apathy. While I believe children should not be compliant to every single aspect of the classroom16, if children are not engaged with any aspect of any classroom life I find my life as a teacher more difficult21.

Therefore, in a sense, there should be a balance between compliance and critical thinking32. To work towards a common goal unwaveringly may be seen as compliance if not also accompanied by critical thinking. The overall strategy I would utilise is outlined in the answer to Critical Reflection Question 2. However, a more specific approach to student's apathy is to ask these students to engage with their feelings towards what I perceive their apathy is directed towards. By students sharing their feelings with me as teacher on a particular topic, they have the opportunity to feel included in a way they may not have otherwise45. This will inform me about how to include this student in future lessons. In this sense, children are not merely compliant in the classroom but potential directors of their own learning16.

Identify strategies you might use to foster inclusive play and belonging for children who do and do not experience disability in a primary school classroom.

Since one could say that behaviour is communication20, learning how to interpret others' communications through behaviours is imperative to foster inclusive play and belonging14. A strategy I could use in a classroom to foster understandings of behaviours is represented by the abbreviation R.I.P.E..

'R' is for Respect. Respect is the end goal7. Respect covers both the students' self, others in the class, and the environment. In the majority of cases, each person knows what they want. This understanding should be reflected in how all people act and react, and how people can respect.

To figure out how to respect others, people should Inquire about others, which is what the 'I' stands for. Inquiring should be asking the right questions in the right way17. As a teacher, I should know what is going on in the classroom so I could facilitate these questions and discussions21. I could also encourage students look at their own biases and encourage them to step into others' shoes and understandings6.

This would appear to be easier with older students. For students to adequately Inquire, they should Participate, which is what the 'P' stands for. Each student has a unique and valued view which they bring to every moment9. I could encourage students to do their best, do what they can, and have fun doing it should cover the Participation aspect of fostering inclusivity.

The 'E' stands for Express, which covers each students' understandings of the previous three steps. It is impossible for students to take a part in the first three steps without expressing how they feel17, as one of the aspects of communication is how they behave20. The key to constructive communication is to encourage honesty and awareness of how our words and actions influence the world around us2. Students should express what they have learned and their feelings and reactions to it17. See Appendix A for a basic design of the sign I would hang in the classroom as a reminder for students of these goals in the classroom.

Inclusive Assessment & Planning - Date submitted: 12th May 2019

Why is assessment an important part of your role in the early years? How can you ensure that your approach to assessment is genuinely inclusive? How can you use assessment to inform genuinely inclusive planning?

Assessment for planning is important to see how to include everybody4, 21. This can be as simple as talking with the family to see how they live their lives19, or as complex as an obstacle course36. Assessment of planning is assessment after a plan has been implemented21. This is useful to reflect upon how all children and amilies have been included and how inclusivity as a whole was prepared and executed in the centre9. Assessment as planning is including the children in the assessment process and asking children to come up with the results21. This can be useful especially for older children to think about the implications of their actions, such as developing senses of belonging to community, empathy, respect, fairness, and to become socially responsible33.

Interpersonal practice is key to being genuinely inclusive, as relationships are how we understand others, which in turns provides a basis for action44. Without each of these steps, there is no way to understand inclusivity. Vygotsky and his colleagues46 would call this a zone of proximal development; the more we interact with others, the greater our understandings of them become, this the more knowledge we have to include them. These communications and relationships should shape three main area which then further shape interactions: the underlying culture of the centre; the policies of the centre, and; strong leadership1. Each of these will influence how inclusivity is viewed and practised in the centre, and ultimately can dictates how a sense of belonging is developed in both to the centre as a place and the centre as a group of people14. If these senses of belonging include a desire to include everybody and a desire to understand other points of view, then the assessment used has done its job.

Participation of everyone associated with the centre is key, from the teachers and directors of the centre to the extended families of the children7. Every bit of knowledge is a bit of assessable information and can contribute to a full understanding of each child specifically, and how to include everyone and have inclusive attitudes generally for everyone involved31.

Children's play reflects their involvement in assessment, and reflects the forms assessment should take. Although a questionnaire is a form of quick information, for children to experience and involve themselves in play will bring more genuine results as a questionnaire can be misinterpreted or catered towards parents views of their children as opposed to children's actual needs or desires for inclusivity.

From Rhetoric To Reality - Date submitted: 19th May 2019

Review your critical reflections from week 1 and reflect on what has changed and what has stayed the same and 'where to from here'.

In terms of what has changed, my view on inclusivity has shifted. In week one I thought inclusivity was to include those who were disabled into a 'normal' setting. This stemmed from my perception of the words disability, impairment, and include. I now better understand that disability is a social construct and attitude to a particular impairment. Even the word impairment has cultural stigma attached to it. If I as a person and teacher, and we as a society and culture work together to include everybody in every way possible6, 7, 8, 26, then these words will lose their stigma and not have such a prevalence in the society we live, as people still unfortunately seem to. If everyone has the opportunity to do their thing, then no one is impaired in their uptake of it, thus no one is unable to do something, thus no one is disabled.

In terms of what hasn't changed, my desire to include everyone has not shifted. In week one I recognised that to form an inclusive society, that understanding needed to start as early as possible. I now have a base from which to work from, and an ever-developing understanding of how to include the people and families around me, and how to figure out how to include these people and families23. My desire for students to feel senses pride and accomplishment also has not changed, but I now also understand that these senses should not just be for their personal achievements like I originally viewed, but also for others as well as corporately.

From this point, there are three things I would like to continue developing in my pedagogy. Firstly, ways to foster a sense of inclusivity in my own practice as well as in others, whether my colleagues or students. Secondly, how to practically go about including people rather than just having a mindset of inclusivity. And thirdly, to keep up to date with current research and literature so that my understanding of the world around may be well informed by a broader scope and not just influenced by the individuals around me, who may be a mere sound-board for my current ideologies. Through all of these ways, I would like to continue growing in my understandings of how to include everyone and how to impart this knowledge with others.

In considering the practical application of 'knowing the system to change the system', imagine you are planning at the start of the year. You do not yet know the children and families that you will be working with. Drawing on your learning this semester, write a list of ideas and strategies for how you could create an inclusive educational setting that caters for the diversity of children and families.

The prerogative of the classroom should be to teach for the future7. The Australian and NSW curricula are written in such a way to generally cater and tailor towards the students I will be teaching. But they are nowhere near specific enough to cater for any class composition I will be teaching in the future21.

Some of the specific ways I can learn about the class I will be learning about the class I will be teaching can include:



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