It all begins with inclusion and understanding.
Last week we began a new initiative by the NYC DOE, “Inclusion begins with something simple, Just Say Hi.” It is common to feel awkward around people who might be or act differently. With this in mind
Just Say Hi. (click on this link) The Cerebral Palsy Foundation (CPF) and the New York City Department of Education we have launched CPF’s “Just Say Hi” campaign in public schools across the City, focused on furthering the inclusion of students with disabilities in schools.
“Just Say Hi” means working to create a community that considers disability an aspect of diversity. “Just Say Hi” aims to further the inclusion of students with disabilities through peer-to-peer conversations and relationships.” In an effort to build relationships some of our upper class students met with the students in the special educational school housed in our building. They all brought their favorite read aloud books with them to share with one another. Later on in the year our fourth graders will meet and have fun, too!
The program uses CPF’s “Just Say Hi” campaign as an innovative starting point for creating discussions about inclusion and for developing effective approaches to creating an inclusive and effective learning environment. Students not only create their own “Just Say Hi” campaigns, but also following a multi-faceted lesson plan which is embedded into the Social Studies Curriculum.
Last week we began this unit. We spoke honestly about our feelings around people who are different. They shared very candidly about their uncomfortable feelings surrounding children with disabilities. They were moved and showed great empathy while watching a video showed a child with Cerebral Palsy doing the same things our kids love, swimming, sledding and playing. Here is the video the students saw. (click on this link)
I am really proud of them!
We also have begun discussing how to be an Ally to kids who are being bullied. Be an upstander and an ally mean you just say “that is mean,” to your friend who might be getting called names or laughed at. It is hard for the person that is being bullied to do that, but YOU can help each other out. The more people stand up, the less power the bully has!
- I wanted to let you know that it has been very difficult teaching with so many students away on a family vacation during regularly scheduled school. Coming back to school after a week of not being here is very confusing for your child. I cannot “explain” an entire writing unit to your child in five or so minutes. I simply do not have the luxury to stop everything to teach your child everything they have missed in their days not present. They are missing valuable learning by not being in class. Many of you have requested extra work to send home. We cannot replicate a classroom experience where we are using inquiry, questioning etc to drive instruction. Missing an entire week of school is extremely detrimental to your child’s progress and learning and highly discouraged.