MODULE 1: "IT'S ALL ABOUT THE STUDENT"

Group of students playing
Real inclusion in the classroom starts with getting to know the student individually in order to create a relationship of trust. Both parents and teachers hold key insights about the student’s strengths, interests and learning style and it’s crucial for these to be shared between them.

Using a strengths-based approach driven by the student’s voice, this module provides parents, teachers and students with the framework and the tools to enable them to build a solid relationship so they can embark on their inclusive education journey together.

“I need to know the student properly in order to create real inclusion where they are enjoying their days, are engaged, are  working with their peers and are learning”

Educator

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VALUES
PRINCIPLES
VALUES
Trust
Respect
PRINCIPLES
  • All children can and deserve to learn
  • Student-centred
  • Student voice
  • School life and home life are intertwined
  • Positive approach
  • Parent teacher relationship is equitable, valued and honoured
Trust
Respect
  • All children can and deserve to learn
  • Student-centred
  • Student voice
  • School life and home life are intertwined
  • Positive approach
  • Parent teacher relationship is equitable, valued and honoured
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Let’s get it right from the start
The relationship with the student is the main vehicle to deliver teaching and learning.  We need to first develop a bond with the student. Educators shared that the greatest enabler of inclusion was to know the individual student.

Parents are the keepers of the intimate and intuitive knowledge that is required to develop that deeper understanding of the student, the key to unlock the door of the relationship with the student. When parents share this knowledge, to inform the learning and teaching as well as to accompany the expertise of the educator, then we move to engagement.

Students have described the vital importance of teachers who made them feel that school was a place of belonging.  Teachers who knew them, who listened, cared and treated them fairly, who had a sense of humour, and did not stereotype them, and who believed in their individual success and cared about their wellbeing.

Let’s take a strengths-based approach
“The teacher needs to know what they love, what they are good at, and what they are
interested in because the strengths are the starting point for the student”

Parent

A strengths-based approach represents a paradigm shift. It is a movement away from a deficit-based approach, which can often lead to a long list of things that the student cannot do. A strengths-based approach consists of questioning strategies to identify what works for the student and how, drawing on the strengths of the student, we can build a picture of what a student’s learning and development could look like in the future.

Student’s strengths can be found in areas of interest they are naturally drawn to, repeatedly involved in, and are good at. A combination of what students enjoy, are excited by and shine at is their strengths identity. Students knowing these is a vital link between learning characteristics such as: motivation, engagement, self-belief and confidence.

Taking a social model approach
The social model is generally the preferred model when thinking about disability, as opposed to the medical model which sees disability as something that needs to be “fixed” or “cured”.

The social model was created by people with disability themselves and looks at the barriers society creates in terms of people with disability being able to participate fully in day to day life.

The social model asks: “What can be done to remove barriers to inclusion?” It recognises that attitudes towards people with disability can create the unnecessary barriers to inclusion, and in knowing this requires people to take proactive action to remove these barriers.

This model identifies that attitudes can inhibit people with disability in the same way that a physical environment can. These attitudes range from prejudice and stereotyping, to unnecessary inflexible organisational practices and procedures and can see people with disability as objects of pity/charity with a strong focus on deficit in the person and not strengths.

Grenier (2011) suggested that by utilising the social model as a conceptual framework, discrimination, teacher attitudes, and practice needed to be viewed as social barriers.  In addition, when teachers view students with disability in ways that go beyond their identified characteristics (medical model), they can gain insight about students’ abilities beyond the medical profile and offer students more positive, engaging experiences.

THINKING: “LET’S GET TO KNOW THE STUDENT”
Prior to any conversations it’s good to have thought about what we want to talk about!
Let’s think about what we want to know about or share about our student – the goal of this information is to ensure our student is known for the individual person they are, and to support connection with their teachers and peers.
Please click on the icon that applies to you to see the content

We are all individuals, everyone is unique.  Your teachers need to know more about you.

Reflect on your individuality and share your life here – we are all different, all have struggles and strengths and all have something to share.

Who needs to know about you?  How would you like to tell them about you?

You can choose who you share what information with – some might be for all, some just for your friends, some just for your teacher. 

 

TIP: This is a great task for ALL students to undertake at the start of the year and have the opportunity to share with the teacher and their peers, as a speaking and listening task.

RESOURCE 1
Young Child THIS IS ME

RESOURCE 2
Older student ALL ABOUT ME
RESOURCE 3
Relationship Mind Map
RESOURCE 1
Young Child THIS IS ME
RESOURCE 2
Older student ALL ABOUT ME
RESOURCE 3
Relationship Mind Map

No one knows your child like you know your child. You have incredible insights to share about what motivates, encourages and supports your child’s interests and individual learning style. You are aware of their talents, gifts and interests.

“We need to share with the teacher all the superb things about our children, to ignite a connection so they can get to know them as the individuals they are”

Parent

What can your child do? What do they like to do, and what don’t they like?

Focus on strengths, include life at school and out of school, share as much as you are comfortable with.

RESOURCE 4
All about my child.

As a teacher, you are in a unique position. Although you are able to draw on your individual expertise, personal education, and curricula frameworks that address the learning needs of all students, when using this strengths-based approach, driven by the student’s voice, you have the opportunity to enable a wonderful notion/concept of being on a journey together.

“I’ve learnt so much from Claudia, we got along well and we got a lot done, it was slow and she had a long road ahead of her, but we enjoyed the journey and the challenge together and we had a great year!”

Kindergarten teacher

Developing a relationship with the student is the vehicle for teaching. Consider questions a teacher might need to know to establish the relationship and teach the student.

  • I need to reflect on what type of teacher does my student need me to be
  • How does my student communicate? Frustration? Happiness? Anxiety?
  • Engagement – what is my student’s motivator/reward (carrot)?
  • What does the parent/carer do to support their child at home? How can I use this information to assist my support and learning with my student?
  • What more questions do I have for my student, to increase my knowledge about how to best support their learning?

“Parents need to know a typical week at school, so they can see where their child can be set up to succeed, and where they can see some extra thought and planning might be needed”

Teacher

RESOURCE 5
All about my student
DISCUSSION: “IT’S TIME TO TALK”
Let’s get to know our student
We need to develop a deep understanding of our student as they are at the core of the collaboration.
We share this deep wonder and knowledge of our student in order to accelerate and support a greater
appreciation of who our student is, where their strengths lie, what they desire to learn and how they
can best do this.
LET'S UNDERSTAND WHAT IS GOING ON FOR THE STUDENT

For some of our students just getting to school is a huge effort. Some have a demanding out of school schedule.  Sharing what is going on for our student outside of school will provide greater understandings, insights and ideas into how we might tailor their days, support, adjust for, or engage them.

We are aiming for insights to how home life and school life can be intertwined, so we can develop a greater awareness of, and understanding for our student.

Share – Students, parents and educators ‘All about the student’ documents.

Consider – Where will we need to refer to this information throughout the year.

Impact – How might this information now be noted and integrated into how our student is understood, taught and valued.

LET'S BRING OUT THE BEST

How is the best way to communicate with our student? Once a basic connection or bond with our student, their educator and peers is established, it is vital that our student can communicate, comprehend and be heard in order for them to feel they fully belong and can engage in their learning.

Meaningful interaction can be subtle and multi-layered.  We are aiming here to share how our student best expresses, receives and comprehends emotions, ideas and information.

Share – How might we go about communicating with the student? How is it done at home? What do we need to consider to assist good communication? Refer to the student’s ‘All about me’ document.

Consider – All behaviour is communication. What is the student trying to say? How can we support the student to communicate their needs?

Impact – What school processes and policies might cause a barrier to inclusion? Discuss what do we need to change or adjust in order for it to be fair and supportive for the student, that the student knows what they are expected to do, and what the impact might be.

RESOURCE 6
All about the student – Conversation Guide
RESOURCE 6
All about the student – Conversation Guide
ACTION: ‘PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER’
Let’s each share something positive to start with – on the topic of something we have discovered about our student or more generally.

What has been discussed, decided upon?

Has the student been consulted before, during, and in regards to outcome?

What needs to be followed up, who will do this, by when and how will we know that it has been done? When do we need to meet and reflect next?

Who else is it important we share this information with? How will we do this? Who will do this? – (consider other school staff, replacement teachers, peers)

Now go back to your “Conversation Guide” document and complete the “actions” section.