Top Ten Things to Know About Jewish Education and Disability Inclusion

Here are ten of the most important things to know about Jewish education and disability inclusion:
We do not do inclusion for people with disabilities; Removing the Stumbling Block

1.      Each of us is created b’tzelem elohim, in the image of God. As such, each of us is perfect and worthy of living a meaningful Jewish life. No one has the right to judge what is “meaningful” for anyone but themselves.

2.      Fair isn’t equal. Fair is when everyone gets what they need to be successful.

3.      Special Education is good education. The strategies, values and goals that make special education successful are the same strategies, values and goals that will help all students find success.
4.     Inclusion is not a place. Inclusion is not a program. Inclusion is a way of helping students to reach their highest potential. It is fluid, flexible and ever-changing.

5.      Inclusion is NOT social action. We do not "do" inclusion "for" people with disabilities. Rather, it is incumbent upon us to figure out how all the things   we do can be inclusive.

6.      Differentiated Instruction (or different expectations) for individual students is absolutely fair. Students should not be compared to one another or to an arbitrary level of expectation. All students should be working toward progress from their current level of functioning.

7.      Hebrew and Jewish Studies classes can utilize differentiated instruction. It would be a pleasure to teach your faculty how to do this well. In addition, using teen madrichim (classroom assistants) appropriately is a productive way to individualize content.

8.      Professional development for teachers is crucial. And while a one-shot, one-day training can be helpful, teachers working with students who have a wide range of abilities and disabilities need ongoing support and opportunities to strengthen their own techniques. 

9.      Intentional planning is critical for success.

10.  Partner with parents. Open and supportive communication with parents is essential for a successful Jewish supplemental school experience for any child, especially those with special learning needs.

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