Inclusive education is a vast and evolving concept. It is seen as a “dynamic approach”, a positive response to students' diversity where individual differences are not problems but opportunities for enriching learning.
Inclusive education is a journey, a constant work in progress that involves everyone: students, teachers, parents, school principals, specialists, and therapists. This journey is a process that depends on the context and the reality of each stakeholder. Currently in Macau, the pandemic increases challenges such as the individual’s well-being, family dynamic, emotional balance or access to specialists, comprehensive assessments, therapy sessions, etc.
Despite the current situation, TIS tries to contribute actively to a real implementation of support. Working at TIS for seven years in the Student Services Department, I have had the privilege of working daily with students, teachers, and parents to find new options to overcoming difficulties. The purpose of this department is to provide support according to the needs of the student and the available resources. Support may include things such as finding materials, discussing or engaging with a student, putting in place accommodations to facilitate a fair formative or summative assessment, providing specific programs to support learning needs, etc. The types of support can be very diverse.
Over time, I have admired the progress and victories of students who have experienced incredible behavioural, emotional, or academic challenges. I am impressed and so fortunate to witness growth and changes in our students. The changes are the result of a journey. Building support for a student involves many aspects. Often, support is defined as an extra activity, one-on-one support, special accommodations or tutoring. However, the response to a student’s need is much more complex.
Here are some ingredients of successful support for a student at TIS:
Support means first understanding. A challenging behaviour should be considered as a symptom of something that parents and teachers need to discover and understand. Observation and early intervention are proactive steps to support our students by understanding the root of the student's needs.
Understanding and knowledge do not remove the child’s difficulty, but they definitely help parents and teachers to embrace patience and acceptance in the support.
Collaboration between the school and parents
Effective communication is key to making any collaboration successful. Each stakeholder represents an important piece of the puzzle. It is only by working together that the full picture makes sense. Studies show that a strong home-school partnership increases academic achievement, completion of homework, attention, and participation.
Flexibility and creativity are also essential. Learning doesn’t only take place in the classroom or in front of a homework worksheet. Learning could be with friends, such as learning how to listen or take turns or it could be in the kitchen, measuring ingredients for a recipe. Parents, teachers, counsellors, therapists, and students are invited to think about new options and share their successes and failures.
If we want the very best, most productive education for our children today, we need to combine what parents do best and what TIS does best.
When working together, great things happen!