Other than parents, there is arguably not a more significant role than “teacher” in the lives of children. Factor in the administrative demands, behavioral challenges and student learning adaptations required of today’s educators and it’s a big job, to be sure. We respect our teachers and honor their commitment to today’s students who are tomorrow’s leaders.
It is in this shared commitment that Build Inclusion desires to partner with teachers to achieve the best outcomes for students with disabilities. Research tells us that more than 60% of teachers feel unprepared to needs of all of the students in their classrooms.i Both students and teachers need support.
That’s why Build Inclusion’s programs are designed to bridge the gaps among members of an IEP team: the self-advocate him- or herself, parent(s), teacher(s), therapist(s), psychologist(s) and/or others who contribute to a student’s success. Each person brings valuable expertise to the table, while not one of us alone has a complete picture of what’s best for a student. By working together we can ensure that every student receiving special education services is equipped to succeed, regardless that the definition of success is unique to each individual.
If we are to help students with disabilities to develop effective self-determination skills, we should raise the bar of our expectations. For starters, we must include them in their IEP process from an early age. In addition, all members of an IEP team must work together to facilitate natural supports in the classroom and community beginning in elementary school. This is becoming even more crucial to an individual’s future independence as the shift continues from a traditional model of disability – one that places emphasis on the individual as the “burden” – to a social model emphasizing “ability” – which requires accommodations on the part of schools and members of the community to include all persons of varying abilities.
Perhaps Helen Keller said it best, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”