Lower School News
In March, Graded was privileged to host theNext Frontier Inclusion (NFI) Conference and the World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment (WIDA) Symposium. Teachers and administrators from international schools across South America and Central America attended both conferences. Graded attendees included learning specialists, EAL teachers, administrators, and 1st grade and 2nd grade teachers.
When we talk about inclusion in schools, what do we mean? Here, at Graded, we can reference our mission statement: inspire, challenge, succeed - every child, every heart, every mind. Graded is committed to meeting the needs of every child who enters our campus, and this belief was reinforced in the professional learning provided by NFI and WIDA. Both organizations stressed that high-quality education available at international schools should always include children who are English Language Learners and those who learn differently or at different rates. Inclusion benefits all students, because it adds diversity and promotes social and emotional learning.
Rather than thinking of children in categories (ADHD, gifted, autistic, EAL…) who do not fit into the typical classroom mold, NFI and WIDA encourage teachers to start from the language of inclusion - the perspective that every child learns differently and it is our responsibility to meet their needs. Every single child is unique, and if we start there, we are able to celebrate their strengths and assets and appreciate their differences.
The conferences emphasized that inclusion is not enough. We cannot simply accept students with differences to our school and pretend everything will be okay. A truly inclusive environment demands well-trained teachers and administrators, sufficient resources, and excellent systems for providing services. It means all stakeholders (students, parents, teachers, administration, board members) work together and are committed to doing whatever it takes to meet the individual needs of all students. This professional development required that we self-assess and identify areas of strength and areas for improvement at Graded. Challenging and including every student in our community is a veritable task, but it is one that makes us all stronger, smarter, and kinder as we work together!