Today marks the first day of the Hebrew month of Elul, the final month in the Jewish calendar before Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Elul is typically a month of spiritual reflection and renewal that leads us to the High Holy Days.
There is a really neat effort by a Reform rabbi named Phyllis Sommer called #BlogElul. You can read more about it here. Or here. Basically it is one more way to tune in, reflect and prepare for the holy days ahead. What I really like is that Phyllis has given us a topic, or a prompt, for each of the days of the month:
The topic for #BlogElul 1 is Prepare. And I'm in; I want to do my best to blog every day as a way to personally prepare. But I also feel that it's important to stay true to my content. Therefore, each of my posts will have a reflection, some inspiration or a tip, technique or strategy related in some way to Jewish special needs education or inclusion, which I hope will allow me the opportunity to inspire others to think deeply or differently, while also allowing me the opportunity to stop, think and reflect as I prepare for the new year ahead.
Please join me in the journey.
#BlogElul 1 - Prepare
Preparation is critical in inclusion and special needs education. Inclusion can only truly be successful with significant, intentional and mindful preparation. For a religious school, there are many ways to accomplish intentional preparation. Here are just a few ideas to get you started:
1. Meet with both parent and student before the school year. Set goals together.
2. Give identified students a tour of the religious school and the synagogue to become familiar with the spaces before school begins. And for returning students, bring them in to see their new classroom.
3. Provide inservice opportunities for faculty to learn more about working with students who have disabilities.
4. Read. There are a ton of wonderful blogs, articles and books dedicated to the topic of inclusion.