So a couple of weeks ago we hosted a regional conference as part of our journey towards inclusion initiative. We were treated to an incredibly inspiring weekend by our friends at Next Frontier Inclusion, who helped us to imagine a future where as international schools, we open our doors to ALL children. NFI didn’t just help us imagine this future, they gave us concrete processes, protocols and policies to help us build capacity within our individual schools, which ultimately will clear a path toward successful implementation. The conference was so powerful in so many ways, and we all left there with a shared commitment and vision of how to bring this to life for our communities.
I have to admit that I’m a little biased in my thinking because this is a true passion of mine, and something that I believe in very strongly. I mentioned in last week’s post, that children with learning differences will go on to rule the world, and that one child can change a school culture in positive and profound ways…those statements are absolutely true. One of the most inspiring parts of the weekend for me was listening to the parent and student panels, where kids and adults alike shared their stories and their recommendations and their hearts around how by including and celebrating students with learning differences, lives have been changed immeasurably for the better. It brought to light the realization for everyone in that room that ALL students can learn, and when given the right structure and support and attention, students with learning differences can be change agents not just for our schools, but for our world.
With this in mind, I want to say that it’s time for all international schools to go take a look at their mission and vision statements, as well as their core values and admissions policies, to see if there is a specific mention of inclusion and diversity. If not, then I’m suggesting that it’s time to make some edits…not just because it’s the right thing to do, especially in the time in which we currently live, but because there is research around how diversity and inclusion in schools actually has tremendous benefits for ALL students…academically and social-emotionally. If an international school hasn’t yet begun a journey toward inclusion, then I’m suggesting that it’s time. As an international community, we have such power and opportunity to affect change for our global world…international schools educate literally thousands of young people who will quickly go on to be leaders in every corner of our globe…our world needs these young leaders to value diversity, and to embrace inclusion, and to have empathetic and socially conscious hearts and minds…and it start with us as schools and as educators.
We are sending our young people out into the world everyday, and that world is a diverse place as we all know. Different races and religions and genders and sexual orientations and cultures and everything else. It’s these differences that make us stronger, and it’s these differences that if we learn to positively leverage them with our kids, can ultimately go on to change our world for the better. It just makes sense to set up a school structure that mirrors what our kids see outside our school walls…doesn’t it? Anyway, I want to leave you with a quote from the NFI website, which discusses the power of going down this road as a school…”Rising to the greater challenge of meeting more diverse needs has raised our overall game, making us smarter thinkers, smarter problem solvers, and critically, smarter teachers. In the end, inclusion has made us a better school, in all senses of the word”
I’m so proud to have worked in schools like Academia Cotopaxi, and now the American School of Paris, where the idea of a truly inclusive school is a foundational part of who they are…and thank you Next Frontier Inclusion for leading the way, and for inspiring us all to join you on this journey…just think of what the destination will look like! Have a wonderful week everyone and remember to be great for our students and good to each other.
Quote of the Week –
If Diversity is like being invited to the party, then inclusion is being asked to dance
– Homa Tavangar
Interesting Articles –
Inspiring Videos –
TED Talks –