One of our most important initiatives this year will be supporting inclusive environments in our schools. We know from research that inclusive schools benefit and support all learners, and improve academic, social and emotional outcomes for students with disabilities. We also know achieving inclusive environments requires changing mindsets. Last year, we engaged in professional learning to create a universal understanding of inclusive practices. The work this year is focused on putting inclusive concepts into practice through behavior-habit-mindset shifts. The Office of Special Education (OSE) leadership team is excited to share the inclusive practices work with you during the school year and invite you to be part of this important work. We have begun intensive work at several model school sites, but this year, all Arlington Public Schools (APS) staff will receive a preview of the model schools’ content as a precursor to large-scale roll-out over the coming years.
Here is an example:
|Week 1||Observe students in your room, at bus duty in the morning, when going to pick something up from the front office, etc.||What does inclusion look like in your building?|
|Week 2||Please take a moment to watch this clip from Shelley Moore on inclusive practices.||Under the Table – The Importance of Presuming Competence||Does this align with what you observed last week? If so, how? If not, why?|
Prioritizing inclusive practices is a direct result of the Arlington Public Schools Comprehensive Special Education Review conducted during the 2018-2019 school year. Below is a snapshot of the recommendation.
Recommendation 21: Inclusive Practices Planning, Guidance, and Implementation Select and use a structured framework that will help promote and support the implementation of best practices for inclusive education including the provision of high yield co-teaching and specially designed instruction. Develop a clearly articulated district/school implementation guide for inclusive practices and determine what role schools will have in adapting it to their needs versus what will be required by APS. Create guidance around developing inclusive master school schedules (which includes common co-teacher planning time) and assist schools with implementing it. Develop supportive structures that allow effective co-teaching teams to create efficiency and partnership build investment. This on-going professional learning serves as evidence of APS Special Education leadership prioritizing high-quality programming and inclusive opportunities for students with disabilities served across the district.
Over the course of the coming months, APS will be sharing more resources on inclusion with you. Please reach out to the Parent Resource Center if you have questions or want additional information.