To establish meaningful education standards, accomplishing those outcomes with every student require a great team and collective commitment and effort. Anuradha Govind, Principal, J M International School shares her views for inclusive classrooms, schools and society. She believes communities and schools embracing the true meaning of inclusion, can lead to change the segregated special education system into inclusive and we can’t agree with her more.
Inclusive Schools in My Opinion
In my opinion, inclusive school is a stimulating environment where everyone wins & no one loses; where all the children, irrespective of their strengths and disabilities, get equal opportunities of learning and harnessing their optimum potential in a regular classroom, alongside a diversified peer group. children study, play and participate in all kinds of activities together.
Philosophy for Inclusion - No Segregation and Alienation
Students with special needs traditionally were segregated from their peers and placed in special classes and even special schools, which kept our children and us from respecting differences. Why at all should we separate, segregate, and alienate children from one another! The philosophy of ‘INCLUSION’ seems absolutely a ‘natural choice’ to me. I don’t think it’s the right way, but I think this is the only way that education should be, equal for all. I have been closely working in inclusive setup wherever I have worked previously, which includes my association with the Srijan School, Shriram School and Shriram Millennium School
At JMIS, the inclusive practice began in the very first year of my joining year. Now in the sixth successful and satisfying year of inclusive culture, almost every teacher of this school is a special educator who knows not just what to do, but also how to include all the children with different possibilities and limitations. There is no ‘IMPOSSIBLE’, that can stop our children, as every child of ours calls out loud n clear – ‘I’M POSSIBLE’.
Buddy System a Making a Difference
We follow group-system and to make it even better, the buddy system in all the classes. We call it CFC, the child-for-child program. Whether it’s about giving help to children with no disabilities as such or supporting the kids with dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, hyperactivity or physical limitations.
The buddy system in classrooms comes to a rescue, with the peer-mentor to help, guide and work closely with her/his partner who seeks help in any area. Children get trained and motivated for this initiative through workshops, brainstorming sessions, open houses, class-panchayats and many more.
Programs for Inclusion at J M international School
The school is running many programs with the combined efforts of students, teachers, coordinators, counsellor and principal. They have spelled several success stories at J M international school. The names of the program are self-explanatory of the purpose, some of them are:
WCM - Whole School Meditation,
RTT- Remedial Teaching Time,
CFC - Child For Child,
DEAR- Drop Everything And Read,
DAS - Diversified Assessment System,
LWC - Learning Session With Counsellor/Special Educator,
IEP - Individual Education/Syllabus/Assessment Plan prepared and followed by Counselor, Special educator and teachers; for each child with special needs and,
SHIKSHANTARAM - Our unique curriculum with innovative teaching-learning methods
Key to Success Lies In The Teacher’s Training and Team Spirit
All our regular class-teachers are trained as an effective child counsellor/special educator. There is provision for regular updates in the training of the current staff whereas new recruits and facilitators have a process of undergoing training in the areas of inclusion regularly. All the staff is sensitized, emotionally attached to the purpose; they keep the same zeal and passion with an undying team-spirit.
The in-house induction, continual training, regular observation-feedback-follow-up-research-referral-discussion cycles are the main input on which we dote, as far as equipping of teachers is concerned.
I take up the primary hands-on training for a new recruit that includes knowledge, practical understanding, special teaching-learning strategies, survival/coping skills, values and life-skill education & finally the ‘INCLUSIVE CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT SKILLS’. Further, the counsellor, special educator, academic coordinator and even parallel teachers and peer educators (students) join hands & take it forward.
The experiences of renowned experts, counsellors & clinical psychologists are all transcended from time to time to our teachers by conducting seminars and workshops. They also visit the quality special education schools of the city for the learning exchange programs.
Inclusive Model of Society in the 21st Century
Inclusive model of society is not just the best. In fact, I would choose to say that this is the only model that works. It’s just that we must strive to maximize the successful outcomes of Inclusivity.
The need of the 21st century, therefore is that, instead of exclusion, we acquire, develop and practice the instructional, administrative and environmental strategies to make inclusive education a success in the classroom. The benefits of inclusive education are for both, the students with special needs as well as the mainstream student. We need to appreciate that inclusive education results in increased appreciation and acceptance of diversity, prepares all students for adult life in an inclusive society, facilitates meaningful relationships and promotes greater academic outcomes for all students.
Indian Schools Need Positive Direction Towards Inclusion
It’s alarming, as a matter of fact, that about 80% of the Indian schools are either not aware or not open or not equipped/ready for accepting the idea of special needs and inclusiveness. But at the same time, there are 5% of our schools which are not just equipped but have remarkably embraced the ‘INCLUSION” as their natural & obvious responsibility. Rest of them are partially in acceptance & marching ahead in the positive direction.
J M International is a ‘CHILD-CENTERED’ & ‘EXPERIENTIAL-LEARNING’ INCLUSIVE SCHOOL, where we understand that while each child learns differently and at his or her own pace, children with disabilities may need extra peer acceptance, approval, support, love, and motivation. Therefore, we work towards creating awareness and sensitization to not just teachers but also the school's student's about disabilities through orientations, workshops, films, videos, discussions and deliberations. It’s therefore, a pleasure for us to collaborate with NexSchools in its ‘INCLUSIVE EDUCATION WEEK CAMPAIGN’