Lesson #1: Full inclusion is not for everyone.Recently, I was given an inclusion class. No one told me about it. I just received a massive stack of IEPs and did the math. I have more than 10 identified kids in one class with accommodations ranging from signing agenda books to allowing for oral dictated responses. I have 20 kids in a small classroom with no additional support--how am I supposed to allow for oral responses? If any other student was giving answers out loud, wouldn't we call that cheating? I am all for inclusion--when you have the resources to support it, but it is certainly not appropriate for every classroom.
Lesson #2: Students will surprise you.All last year the sixth grade teachers warned us about our incoming class. They said they were lazy. They said they were mean. They said they were hopeless. And I believed them! I had lunch duty and saw first hand the trouble they could cause. Over the summer, I poured over my rosters, my heart sinking when I saw those dreaded names on my list. I was already trying to put a positive spin on what I was convinced would be a horrible year. I told myself I was simply earning my real teaching chops.Now, a few days in, I am ashamed of my hyperbolic reaction. Yes, this is going to be a tough year. I have a lot of challenging students and a wide variety of issues in every class, but I also have kids ready to learn and kids who have grown up a lot over that short summer. One student, who I personally brought to the office at least six times last year, now smiles at me every morning and asks me how my day was every afternoon. I must admit, I was surprised. I am always surprised. That's why I love this profession!