I saw a story on the news about inclusion that I must write about! In the Seneca Valley School District, a new student-run coffee shop called "Grounds for Thought" has just opened. Students enjoy congregating and ordering their favorite coffee libations, and they enjoy just "hanging out" together. This coffee shop is unlike other coffee shops; it is special because of who manages the shop!
The coffee shop is staffed and run by students in the Life Skills program. Their work in the school shop has provided these students with special needs with a plethora of learning experiences! They are interacting with others in a different kind of social situation beyond the classroom, and they are making new acquaintances and friends. Additionally, they are learning responsibility to themselves and others, new social skills, and self-reliance. Moreover, they are totally included in the school community, especially when they say "I work at the coffee shop."
The goal of educational inclusion is so much more than having students with special needs sit in a classroom. The workings of a school coffee shop unify the student body in ways students may not even recognize. The "regular" education students learn to engage with students who have special needs, and they have the opportunity to get to know those students by creating a casual friendship at the shop. The contributions of the students with special needs show that through appropriate activities for inclusion, every student can play an important part in the school system. From the television report on the story, the Life Skills students are thrilled to make new friends and to "be known." Students have a new appreciation for each other, and in schools, as in life, appreciation leads to mutual respect.
In my 37 years as a teacher, my goal for inclusion was to have students participate and belong as members of the class and citizens of the school. With help from my "regular" education students, we tried to help each of our "special" students to learn and develop to the best of his/her ability, and we tried to include them as important and contributing members of our classroom and our school.
I think this program in the Seneca Valley School District is terrific! I am sharing the link to the story in the hope that some of my loyal readers will share and use this idea! True inclusion is so important- for the entire school population.
Link to the television story:
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GRADY GETS GLASSES was the winner of Best New Children's Book 2016 from The Authors' Zone. For more information about The Authors' Zone, please visit http://www.theauthorszone.com/submissions/
Visit Dede's webpage for complete details on her award-winning book, STUDENT TEACHING: THE INSIDE SCOOP FROM A MASTER TEACHER. Many colleges have made the book required reading. Signed copies are available www.dederittman.com Dede is also a national speaker on The Three C's for Classroom success: Confidence, communication, and Creativity; Avoiding Teacher burnout; and many other inspirational topics.
I LOVE writing. And I love writing children's books- my newest passion. Although it will be a ton of work, I am looking forward to selling my books. Since I was a secondary teacher, I know that I have much to learn about elementary students, and I will have to follow my own advice and be my genuine self. However, I also know that I am passionate about helping kids who have to wear glasses, and that GRADY GETS GLASSES sends a positive message. I am willing to work hard and do all the things that also made me a successful teacher for 37 years. I remain inspired!
Elementary teachers in Western Pennsylvania and beyond - I am willing to come into your classroom in person or as a virtual field trip through a group called Field Trip Zoom. Check them out! http://www.fieldtripzoom.com/
Teacher friends- let me know if you want me to read GRADY GETS GLASSES at your school. I am willing to come in to discuss the creative writing process, why writing is important, and personal fulfillment through writing, along with reading my book. I would appreciate the exposure, and I would make signed copies available for purchase in your classrooms following the reading. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org The website www.gradygetsglasses.com now has plush Grady bunnies for sale!
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