How do you define least?
Long ago when I studied inclusion, I came to support the notion that when we pay attention to and meet the needs of the least amongst us, we lift everyone up.
As I think about this and think about the days of teaching and learning ahead, I'm thinking about how I define "least," and how I can serve these individuals better.
The least in school may be those that struggle the most--these are children that struggle with academic expectations, the school environment, relationships, or having their basic needs met. How might I do better with regard to these students?
Some actions I want to pay better attention to include the following:
- Basic Needs: Do these students have the food, sleep, shelter, health care, and support they need, and if not, how can we help out?
- Academic Support: Do these students have access to apt academic support and resources so they are continuing to learn with strength and confidence?
- Positive Relationships: Do these students have the opportunity, time, skills, and abilities to engage in positive relationships?
At the start of the year, I want to listen carefully to what past teachers and administrators have to say about my incoming class, and then with regard to those who are labeled as struggling in any way, I want to think carefully about their home-school relationships/communication, learning resources, academic needs, and support schedules. I want to focus in on these students with depth as we create the weekly schedule and learning pattern. I want to think about how I can support these students more.
I do believe that when we begin our teaching/learning year with a focus on the least amongst us, we build capacity for all learners and this makes an important, positive difference.