Resources for Teaching Disability Awareness and Inclusion

There is a distinct lack of resources for teaching disability awareness, accessibility, and inclusion in a Jewish setting.

Curriculum design is one of my areas of expertise. I have experience in developing curriculum for children of all ages, with particular strengths in the areas of teen engagement and experiential education. If you are looking to build or enhance your program, please be in touch.

There are a few existing resources that you might also consider:

Disability Awareness Book-Based Program - Cakes and Miracles: A Purim Story
This curriculum, supported by PJ Library, was a collaborative effort by educators from four excellent organizations focused on the inclusion of children with varied abilities in Jewish day and supplemental schools.

Produced by Behrman House and written by Diane Zimmerman, this is an appropriate lesson for a wide variety of ages. It is designed to enable students to address the driving question: “How can we help guide our synagogue in creating a space that is accessible to all and emulates the Jewish value of lifnei iver lo titen michshol (do not put a stumbling block before the blind)?” What I like about this lesson is that it is well grounded in Jewish text and empowers students to drive the direction of the final product. 

Finally, an important note:  Inclusion and disability awareness are NOT the same thing. Teaching a lesson or leading a conversation about disabilities does not mean you are inclusive.  It means you have taught about disabilities. It is important in is its own right, and a valuable component of inclusivity, but quality awareness-raising is only one aspect of inclusive practice.

It would be a pleasure to help you design a curriculum that can be used effectively in your setting. To request a sample program or to set up a consultation, contact me

Practice Makes Better

Practice Makes Better; Removing the Stumbling Block

I often use the phrase, "Everything I know I learn from Facebook." While it might be a bit of an exaggeration, I really do learn quite a lot from that quick scroll through the newsfeed a couple of times each day.

Sometimes I learn of a challenge a friend is going through so I can offer support. 

Sometimes I learn of a great accomplishment and can share in the pride.

Create a Sense of Urgency Around Inclusion

How can we change the culture of our community to one where individual members recognize and value inclusion?

I spend a lot of time exploring organizational change. In my work coaching organizations toward increased inclusion, one thing synagogue professionals and lay leaders often ask is some version of this: “How do we change the culture of our community to one where individual members recognize and value inclusion?”  

Organizational culture change is a complex process that demands a clear vision and a focused leadership team committed to create, anchor, and support change over time within the institutional culture. In other words, it is anything but a “quick fix.”

Stop Using Behavior Charts, Part 2

Stop Using Behavior Charts; Removing the Stumbling Block

In Ditch the Clips (Stop Using Behavior Charts Part 1), I shared how much I dislike traditional classroom behavior charts. I believe they do absolutely nothing to model and support appropriate student behavior.

It’s worth taking a look at the responses to that post:
“I have to disagree that clip systems are 'always' harmful and shaming to students. I use it in my classroom. All students begin the day on green (middle of the chart) and throughout the day, they can clip up or down depending on the choices they make. It is NEVER used to punish “mistakes”.

Shall I follow this teacher into the faculty room for lunch? Let’s say she’s having a particularly tough day. Maybe she cuts off a colleague in the middle of a conversation or snaps at someone trying to hand her something. I go to the chart and move her clip (or expect her to do it) down from green. She won’t feel embarrassed or shamed by this? I don’t buy it. Not a punishment? That’s exactly what it is.
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