On Friday mornings a team of us meets over Zoom to plan for our inclusive pod and discuss any other concerns or pressing issues. As Thanksgiving approached we’d talked about how we wanted to do a project that dealt with thankfulness, but hadn’t found one yet.
The day before we met I spent time pursuing Pinterest for some of those beautiful crafty projects teachers post about doing for Thanksgiving. I found one from a Montessori teacher who had her children sew small hearts to give away at Thanksgiving dinner. Well, that sounded sweet and I couldn’t think of anything better. Instead of handing them out at Thanksgiving we could mail them to people we can’t be with this year.
I brought the idea to our Friday morning group. One of our members, a special education professor, immediately started planning how to adapt it for Joey. Use a bigger, plastic needle – she suggested – and maybe burlap for Joey so that the needle will go through.
And then, as we talked, we all realized – why should Joey be the only one with a large plastic needle making burlap hearts? Why should he be different?
We ordered a pack of plastic needles, red yarn, and a roll of burlap and changed our plan from Joey being the only one using adapted materials to everyone using the same materials.
The project was a success- the burlap hearts came out surprisingly well (I had to beg my daughters to make some for our own house!) and Joey got into the task of pulling the needle with yarn through the burlap. With help of placing the needle back through the burlap, Joey could access the project and he ended up with the same sweet burlap hearts as everyone else.
This project was a great reminder of two important elements in inclusion –
- The importance of collaboration and working together – no one special education teacher can produce and plan a project alone. The brainstorming – especially involving different disciplines – will always make a project stronger. In my quick search I honestly had not made that next step into how to adapt the project – I was just looking to find something. Thank goodness our professor stepped in immediately with adaptive suggestions!
- When we think about an inclusive community we need to remember to not just think about adaptations just for the child who needs it changed. Sometimes everyone benefits from the adaptations – and other times the community benefits from everyone working on the same project. Joey did not need to have a different product in this case – the supports for him were also supports for everyone.