Preparation is critical for successful inclusion.
When our focus is on education, Jewish, special needs or otherwise, we must be mindful of the need for adequate preparation. We must also recognize that our plans will not always go as intended and there is no such thing as the “perfect lesson”. In fact, there is no such thing as the “perfect” anything. It’s why we strive to improve and to grow rather than to reach for something arbitrary that we will never attain. Mistakes will happen, our responsibility is to appreciate them as opportunities for reflection and growth rather than letting them become stumbling blocks.
None of this is easy, as one of the most common complaints in education is that there is never enough time to prepare. Worse, there is often no time built into schedules in a way that allows for significant and meaningful collaboration between teachers.
But inclusion can only truly be successful with significant, intentional and mindful preparation. There can be no shortcuts. This is the reason why a lack of preparation is number one in The Ten Inclusion Mistakes Even Good Educators Make.
For religious school educators, there are many ways to prepare intentionally.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:1. Meet with your director before the school year begins to discuss both curricular and individual student goals.
2. Spend time familiarizing yourself with the curriculum, textbooks, and support materials available to you.
3. Spend time familiarizing yourself with the building, classrooms and other frequently used spaces.
4. Learn which students have been identified as needing unique support.
5. Give identified students a tour of the religious school and the synagogue before school begins. For returning students, bring them in to see their new classroom.
6. Meet with parents and students before the school year begins. Set goals together.
7. Write a welcome letter to all students. Ask them to write back and/or send a photo. You can use these to create a welcome display in the classroom.
8. Plan get-to-know you games or other activities to build trust in the classroom and build relationships among students.
9. Take advantage of in-service opportunities to learn more about working with students who have disabilities.
10. Read. There are a ton of wonderful blogs, articles and books dedicated to the topic of inclusion and Jewish education in general.
Share how you will prepare for the school year ahead.
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