The Secret Key to Inclusion is Transparency

The Secret Key to Inclusion is Transparency; Removing the Stumbling Block

The new school year is upon us. And soon, the new Jewish year will be upon us, as well. The start of a new year can be the most ideal time to make sure that your community and your classrooms are as inclusive as they can be.

Here is a piece that I think is significant: Even if you cannot make every single change that you hope to make at once, being transparent about your efforts and helping your community know that inclusion is something you value will go a tremendous way.

All too often communities feel that they can’t use the language of inclusion if they aren’t “inclusive enough” (let’s not talk now about those who call themselves inclusive but really aren’t…that’s another challenge for another day).

It is ABSOLUTELY acceptable to say that you are making efforts to be as inclusive as possible as you work to make the necessary changes and shape the culture of your community. The key here is transparency.

The Power of Yet to Advance Inclusion; Removing the Stumbling BlockBy sharing what you are up to you open the conversation. You help others know that inclusion is something your community values. This may lead others to be willing to share their own needs more readily or even step up to the task helping. When you make inclusion a part of the conversation, you can begin to shift the focus from what you are not doing to what you haven’t done yet. And yet is powerful.

All the while you can feel proud of the steps you take and the shifts you make. 

For those who are wondering, inclusion does not have to look the same in every place or every space. For those who need some concrete examples of what inclusion looks like, here are a few from my community.

This is inclusion:

  • When you rearrange the entire school’s music schedule (from what it has been in previous years) to accommodate one student - and the teachers all think it's a great idea…this is inclusion.
  • When a teacher comes to the opening faculty meeting excited about her plan to communicate regularly with the parent of a student in high school with significant need so that he can participate successfully…this is inclusion.
  • When, at the opening faculty meeting, a teacher asks if fidgets will be back in the classrooms before we even get to the place on the agenda to review fidget guidelines…this is inclusion.
  • The check-ins and conversations with individual parents of children with significant needs in advance of the opening of school to make sure everyone is on the same page for opening day…this is inclusion.

Will you need to make some costly changes to be inclusive? Maybe. 

Will you need to put in significant effort to be inclusive? Probably.

Will it take time to get everyone on board and shift the culture of your community completely? Likely.

But none of these are reasons that you shouldn’t start.
Start small. Do a lot of listening. And share what you are up to every step of the way.

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