When Everyone’s Participation is Important

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Lusine Bush

Mkhitar Sebastatsi Educational Complex is well-known for its open, inclusive, harmonious environment. Here everyone finds activities corresponding to their preferences, interests, tastes and talents. Every student, every teacher can choose what he/she has dreamed of doing, but hasn’t had the opportunity to sing, dance, draw, sculpt, take photos, do jewelry, be engaged in robotics, learn different languages or choose a favorite sport. This choice allows every student to be involved in educational and social activities, regardless of his / her abilities. Its environment is also inclusive: open, free, transparent, with large classrooms full of light, laboratories adapted to each activity, stadiums, and schoolyards. Students use the training farm without hindrance, where, in addition to caring for animals and plants, they can also perform various types of therapies, depending on the learner's needs. 

Swimming, riding bicycles, going on various trips are not only enjoyable pastimes but also clear, purposeful educational activities, including a healthy lifestyle. It is important to mention that both students and teachers are involved not only in educational activities, but they also carry out various social activities, projects. They self-service their own work in the classroom, in the kitchen, while camping, or in schoolyard work. 

All this allows everyone to feel involved in both the classroom and everyday school life, and to be involved and capacitated in any of his/her preferable activities. The inclusion of students with special needs in the complete program is one of the main concerns of the educational complex. Here all the conditions are created so that every learner in need does not feel his unusualness, and even if he does feel it, it should be his advantage, not his disadvantage. 

Overall inclusion takes place during subject lessons when each teacher knows what approach each learner needs. Individual curricula are developed for learners, depending on the learner's needs, even the learner's timetable may differ.  

Teachers publish assignment packages on their blogs that can be used by students with special needs. The tasks in this package are selected so that they are accessible to everyone. The student’s inclusion in the lesson process also depends on his/her needs: one learner needs special attention with an individual or additional task, another one is easily involved in the general classroom activities. While developing any new project, teachers take into account the learners with special educational needs.  At different stages of project work, these learners may have their own portion of work that may be a little easier, more accessible, but will allow anyone to participate in the project. With such an approach, every learner, regardless of his/her needs, feels his / her importance and contribution to the realization of the project. Often in the case of such learners, the whole family is involved in the projects, they help the learner, make videos together, write materials together and publish them on the learner’s blog. Such participation of parents is welcome. It gives the learner extra confidence, as school life becomes an integral part of the learner's daily routine, as far as the whole family is interested in it. 

Parents also enjoy going on educational trips with their children. If there is a student with special needs whose parent has to attend classes with the child, then that parent becomes a volunteer at the school, learns all the programs of the educational complex, dances, sings, learns foreign languages, revises his/her knowledge of the school subjects. This model of family education, family involvement experience was useful to us especially during the difficult period of self-isolation due to the Covid-19 virus, when we all had to be locked in our homes and had to work only virtually.  

The students realized that even in this situation they have the opportunity to express themselves, and the virtual world made them more audible. Students' videos, articles, and stories were published on school websites and on various social platforms. At the same time, they had the opportunity to express themselves and see the work of others more vividly, to compare, to understand that they are not different from others, but often they are better. The most important component of inclusive education, in my opinion, is not the acquisition of subject knowledge by the learner, but the attitude of the classmates towards such a learner. Classmates learn to care for such learners. First of all, they develop kindness and tolerance in themselves. There were cases when parents came to school and complained about the fact that a child with autism or Down syndrome studied with their child in the same classroom stating that it might have a bad effect on their children, but the children of such parents very quickly made their parents think differently. Most of the children of this generation will never go to school for their child with such an issue when they grow up because during their studies they understood and felt that everyone deserves care, regardless of their peculiarities. 

  

 

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