{The ABC's of Inclusion} C is to Collaborate

ABC's of Inclusion, C is to Collaborate; Removing the Stumbling Block

None of us can do the work of inclusion ourselves. Even the most trained, most knowledgeable, and most experienced among us will set the ball in motion, and might even get it rolling at good clip; but to truly succeed, inclusion requires collaboration.

Teachers need to collaborate with other teachers. They also need to collaborate with paraprofessionals, administrators, parents, and students themselves. And while I know this may seem obvious to many, it is quite frankly one of the most frequently acknowledged but not put into action issues around inclusion. There is a reason why it landed at number 2 in Ten Inclusion Mistakes Even Good Educators Make. “Many teachers feel that asking for support or assistance is a sign of weakness or lack of competence…Letting go of some of the control and working in collaboration with others is not only acceptable, it is critical for successful inclusion.”

And before anyone jumps to blame, we must also remember that there is barely enough time in a day to accomplish everything. Without a supportive administration that fully buys in to inclusion AND provides the time needed for successful collaboration, it will be tough, if not impossible, to accomplish and accomplish well.

ABC's of Inclusion; Removing the Stumbling BlockThis conversation doesn’t look much different if our focus is faith-based. The most trained, most knowledgeable and most experienced staff member, lay leader or congregant will not be able to shape the culture of a community alone. Spark the effort - sure. Help to lead it - probably. But single-handedly move a congregation to become genuinely inclusive - not likely.

So before I completely scare you off; before I give you the impression that this is an insurmountable challenge and a mountain you don’t even want to climb, please don’t run away. We NEED you. Maybe you are not the most experienced, most knowledgeable or the most trained. It doesn’t matter. Any of us, when we work together, can help our communities to become more inclusive.

Inclusion needs people who care.

Inclusion needs people who are willing to think creatively.

Inclusion needs people who realize that each and every one of us is created in God’s image.

Inclusion needs people who are willing to act.

Inclusion needs YOU.

Collaboration is what will make inclusion a reality. Genuine, honest, “I don’t know everything” collaboration will help to make our schools and our communities the places we want them to be. Collaboration will open the doors to those who have been on the outside for way too long. Collaboration will help us to gain the experience, the training and the knowledge.

None of us can do the work of inclusion ourselves. 

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