Why the Inukshuk?

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The Inukshuk is the award given to recipients of the ‘Champion of Inclusion Award’  What is true about the Inukshuk is true about people. Inukshuks in themselves are the product of cooperation. The hands and efforts of an entire group were required to build these massive stone sculptures. They are the result of a consensus of purpose, of focused action by a group united in it’s goal and labour. The Inukshuk reminds us that as good as our individual efforts may be, together we can do even greater things. Thank-you to our aboriginal ancestors for this inspiration. Coaching to Inclusion Conference

In Cathy Montreuil’s words: What does shared responsibility mean? Being a lone ranger is inconsistent with professionalism. #barrieregion2014

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Coaching to Inclusion Conference 2014

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The Coaching to Inclusion Conference was amazing. I’m totally excited about implementing the Peer-Mediated Strategy: A 5 Step Approach as presented by the wonderful Charmaine Chadwick and the dynamic Kristofer Holland of HPCDSB,  who was their board recipient of the Champion of Inclusion Award.  A very deserving candidate I’d say.They both did an amazing job. The presentation by far exceeded my expectations and I’m thrilled that they are willing to come to St Mary’s to show us how they do it.  Totally excited. We already have a committed team on board and are ready to endorse the program fully. I have already used the reinforcement component with amazing success, keeping in mind that “An event that, when presented immediately following a behaviour, causes that behaviour to increase in frequency” – Martin and Pear 2003. The process required teaching a new skill therefore it initially required a high rate of reinforcement – the student loved buying a new song on iTunes. The reinforcement component consists of 4 categories: Social, Edible, Activity and Tangible. They also explained that in order to ensure success, reinforcers must be: Specific to the student, Manageable so that you are able to deliver it efficiently, Age appropriate, Relevant to the amount of effort and Timely – delivered immediately following the behaviour.

They shared a video to emphasize the effectiveness of this approach to enhance social skills

Basketball Hero:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sTaB-hPg0P4

An important aspect of their presentation were the benefits of this approach for both students with learning challenges and for typically developing peers, ensuring overall learning opportunities for all.

“People who do not have opportunities to spend time with others during the school year do not develop meaningful relationships later in life” Snell and Janney 2000

The most exciting part of the conference was to share notes with my colleague Claudia Gagnon-Solinger on how we will use a team approach to implement this process. Our collaboration is in keeping with Cathy Montreuil’s comment at the Barrie Region Digital Learning Symposium in August that “Being a lone ranger is inconsistent with professionalism”

 

Barrie Region Equity Network

So I attended the Barrie Region Equity and Inclusion Network Face to Face Meeting and made some amazing contacts and I had lots of intellectual stimulation 🙂 Met Kevin Stewart from YRDSB who absolutely inspired me with his amazing presentation on creating safe spaces at the Barrie Symposium and their board’s mantra:

“Diversity is our strength

 Equity is our commitment

Inclusion is our goal”

I also met Ray Auger who had some wonderful suggestions on how to engage FNMI students. He spoke of how we are not always representative of the families and children we serve and by doing that we silence them. He also spoke to the fact that art work that represents the students’ art work should be openly displayed. He suggested increased engagement and student voice, student networking and building of understanding between First Nations and non-aboriginal students. At BWDSB they are working with “Sheartre” and students to develop a play Be Our Ally which addresses homophobia. The goal is to perform the play in 21 schools. It consists of play, songs and a photo exhibition.  Beyoutiful is an example of the songs that come from the play and can be found on http://www.youtube.com  Michael Way Skinner of YCDSB shared some wonderful insights as to how they run their peer leadership to make it inclusive and representative of all students.

At the BGCDSB we would like to create a board committee for Equity and Inclusion. The committee would consist of staff who would serve as EIE advocates, sharing information at staff meetings and helping to promote equity and inclusion in their school communities. We are committed to providing professional learning opportunities at all levels to build capacity for understanding and addressing issues that pertain to equity, diversity and inclusive education. We will also provide EIE strategies and activities that support FNMI students.

A lot of resources were shared throughout the meeting ………exciting times but alas …… lots of reading.

Coaching to Inclusion Conference 2014

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So …….the annual  Coaching to Inclusion Conference  (Inclusive Education – Making it Work) is only a day away!  Always very rewarding to celebrate the successes of colleagues who have embraced the concept of inclusion and most importantly to recognize the “Champions of Inclusion” in our school system and validate their passion for inclusion at all levels. I am looking  forward to attending the workshop “Moving from Tolerance to Acceptance Using a Peer-Mediated Approach to Increase Positive Social Interactions and Academic Success”. 

This workshop promises to be very informative for me because I have always advocated for more peer-to-peer social interaction and I am very motivated that at St Mary’s High School we are moving along with implementing this widely applied and researched educational intervention. Because the Huron Perth Catholic District School Board has been using this approach for the past 8 years, I am very excited to hear about the benefits and essential components, and to receive resources to support successful implementation at St Mary’s. I was previously inspired by a presentation by Charmaine Chadwick, ABA consultant for the HPCDSB at the Roundtable Discussion on Inclusive Education held on June 2, 2014. She attested to the importance of transitions for students with special needs and in her highly motivational presentation she mentioned a ‘model’ transition she attended at Sacred Heart High School and spoke of the excellent “inclusion at work” best practices she observed when she had a transition meeting with the school team at SHHS.

I am confident that Paul Cook (Thames Valley District School Board) with his innovative approach to inclusion, will show me how their school teams collaboratively problem solve.   His workshop on “Education Support Services Team” which meets weekly and embraces a Response to Intervention and Universal design for Learning approach will definitely provide an interesting perspective on the value of regular meetings with school teams.

The conference is a perfect opportunity to get together with educators who share the same vision, re-articulate my own vision and to come back to St Mary’s High School refreshed and ready to celebrate the excellence of our students and to carry on telling the story that inclusion is the way to go.  After all, in order to embrace inclusivity,  it needs to be felt by the teacher.

‘COACHING TO INCLUSION AWARD’

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'COACHING TO INCLUSION AWARD'

The award was developed in 1999 by the University of Western Ontario’s Centre for Inclusive Education “to recognize, celebrate and highlight educators who live, breathe and implement inclusive education”.
Recipients are nominated by colleagues in the field.

Comments by Director:  “June effortlessly bridges the gap for students who may be living with special education needs and the entire student population, creating an atmosphere where each individual is equal and unique. She recognizes the potential in each individual and encourages them to strive for goals that others would be afraid to set.”