We are Different, but we are Together

Knarik Nersisyan

"I read it and got excited a little, slightly smiled. I handed the telephone over to the father and the same feelings were seen on his face. I think the diary is not only a pleasant fact but also very useful as I can't always meet my child's teacher and talk to her about my son's school-day. Any parent is curious to find out how his/her child manifests himself/herself in public when the parents are not with him/her, what progress he/she has made in his/her behavior and how he/she is doing at school, and above all in the case of my child. Moreover, I would like to meet the teachers from time to time and have a round-table discussion and perceive what else we can do for our kids. As a mother, I need it very much. Once again thank you."
Arpine Grigoryan, a parent 
My beloved people, the ones who know me well, characterize me as emotive and impressionable. Sometimes they spare me and do not speak about the events that can excite me. Empathy is a quality which has been typical to me since my childhood. Penetrating into any impressive phenomenon, person, situation or an animal I can fully live through it. Although it creates a lot of difficulties by being accumulated inside me, it has also helped me with my first actor's profession and also with my second and third professions, journalism while taking interviews and pedagogy. My empathy isn't just over with emotions: I have to do something, proceed to action, or else I will not calm down.           
 In my educator's work, it helps me to understand children, their wishes, the content of their behavior. Penetration, questions, analyses: and the content of their deeds is clear to me. 
Nowadays I am focusing my attention on the children who have special educational needs. I have a lot of things to do here. I have begun registering all the achievements. For example, today a learner smiled to me, allowed me to hug him, another one started speaking to me. My interest in organizing their education, taking into account their special needs, aroused some questions, and I began searching for the answers to them. I reviewed the issues of the organization of inclusive education in the Educomplex, and in the result of a series of observations, monitorings, and discussions, I came to the conclusion that we should try to do more in our Art School by making this work more transparent: we should involve the families and primary school teachers in this work and create non-stop connections in the school-family-community chain. We should create a live and general inclusive atmosphere. The only document we had was IEP's (Individualized Educational Programs) which, unfortunately, didn't give a full picture about the learner's special needs of education, didn't immediately register any progress or problems occurring in the educational process. Who accompanies the child to school?Is it done by the nurse or assistant to the primary school teacher? How are they included in the educational program? It became clear to us that we needed another tool for evaluation which would more often or in some cases immediately register the learner's progress or fails. At our Art School, we began trying the teacher's diary. Now each primary school teacher presents the results of her/his day's observations or monitorings in the teacher's diary. I made a positive discovery during this work: all the teachers started working vigorously making diary notes. They state the effectiveness of making daily notes in their diaries. They didn't make any complaints or disagreement about it. Their inspiration is obvious. They treat this innovation positively because this way of working is more tangible and alive than the notes in IEP which is more appropriate for a special educator's assessment tool rather than that of a parent or a teacher. The teacher's daily diary notes enable the parents to see their child's everyday life in the educational environment: inclusion, growth and progress.                    
Putting such diaries into practice could only be publicized by getting the parents' agreement. We held a seminar for parents to define its aim and form and ways of presenting it. The parents also took part in an online discussion where they not only appreciated the effectiveness of the teacher's diary notes but also wrote down their opinions about this way of organizing our work. All the parents' opinions were positive. It would be desirable if the specialists of the field and the specialists of the Center for Pedagogical Assistance helped us with their advice. That kind of collaboration would help us to improve the form and structure of the diary and some indicators of inclusiveness.    The process of daily observations and their discussions showed that we could use the educational environment of the Educomplex better than we usually did. For example, the art School has got a dog Atie by name, and it wouldn't be reasonable if Atie had only the function of guarding. Having had a twelve-year experience in keeping a pet dog I was very well aware of the positive effect gained in the result of contacts with a pet dog. In addition to that, I studied publications of different researchers on this issue, gained self-confidence and began acting. The first steps have been just having a contact with Atie, and the continuation will be dog therapy. Now Atie is being trained by a cynologist. The contact with animals took me to the horses on our school farm. There I was once again ensured that animals have a positive effect on children, and the emotional background is obvious.          
  Conditions for aquatic therapy have also been created at the Educomplex. We are going to do observations here. Aquatic therapy calms down the nervous system and helps to overcome stressful situations. So the therapies offered by the Educomplex are an indicator of the learner's complete inclusion. 
 We do not ignore the principle of adapting the educational environment to the natural process of the learner's growth but we found out that we lack packages of teaching-learning materials for the children with special educational needs.
Discussions with parents completed our observations. They appreciated our daily notes in the teacher's diary, spoke well of the animal therapy and of our intention to create packages of teaching-learning materials for the children with special educational needs.    Education is incomplete without observations and experience, without generalizations and conclusions. Without that gradual transition and without a true and unconditional love towards children, pedagogy can't live and make anyone live.       
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