This year I felt inspired to make a difference in my elementary school. In high school and college I was a huge advocate for people with disabilities. I held fundraisers, was the president of Autism Speaks U, and volunteered all the time. Lately, I have felt like I was not doing enough.
We are an inclusive school, but overall I think we could use some more empathy. I work in a self-contained classroom and my students sometimes get weird looks or whispers when we walk in the halls. It is not to be malicious, I know, but it still makes my heart hurt. Yes, my students are different, but that does not make them any less than the other students in this school.
Today 03.07.18 is Spread the Word to End the Word. This is a day where we pledge to stop saying the R-Word. I know that this word is not used a lot anymore, but it still is a very important lesson to be taught. So I did just that. This week I reached out to my general education staff members and asked if I could come speak to their classes. I was amazed with the eagerness and support I received from my staff. Before I knew it, I had just about all classrooms signed up.
To be honest, I was quite nervous when I stepped foot into the first classroom for a presentation. Other than selecting the video, I had not rehearsed anything and was just going to wing it. I was really struggling with how to phrase everything without singling out my students… ya know? I did not want to label my kiddos “those kids the word is about” How do I explain what that word really means? The anxiety was building.
My heart was racing as the 6th grade teacher got her class’ attention. “Oh great, here goes nothing. Don’t mess up” I thought to myself. Without realizing it, I instantly fell into my niche, my passion, my everything. The right words were coming out and the students were extremely engaged. As the week went on, I visited the rest of the classrooms 1st-6th grade and had great responses. I can honestly say I am amazed at the discussions I was able to have with these students. We really have a great group of students here.