Week four of my field placement challenged me to focus on the inclusive practices that were honoured both in the Pre-K classroom and through the entire school community at M.J. Coldwell. This week I read Oh Canada: Bridges and Barriers to Inclusion which put into perspective the importance of inclusive education to not only ensure that people with disabilities receive fair opportunities to be academically and socially successful but more significantly in order to create a society that is accepting and understanding of difference. In the Pre-K classroom, diversity can be seen visually through a variation in race but the true disparity can only be recognized by getting to know each student. The class is comprised of kids ages three to five and they are all at unique stages of learning. Some students can rapidly say the alphabet, count to twenty, and clearly print their names while other students are still confused by their colours.
At the pre-Kindergarten level, it is crucial that the teachers honour inclusive practices and design a classroom atmosphere that is accommodating to various learning levels. The MJ Coldwell pre-K classroom is visually educational by including picture labels at student eye level rather than simply written labels that allow the students to connect words to objects. Numbers, letters, colours, and shapes can be found everywhere in the classroom as a way of exposing the students to objects that will continue to play a crucial factor in their educational journeys. Miss Kerster adapts her classroom to every holiday including those of cultural significance such as the Chinese New Year which impressed me to see her introducing her students to history and a vast variety of beliefs despite their young age. Miss K also ensures that everything the students do is turned into a learning experience for the entire class and rather than simply lecturing individual students when they make mistakes she makes sure to address the issue to the entire class through positive reinforcement. No student is ever individually singled out but rather the whole class functions together on the value of teamwork.
I immediately noticed the aspects of Indigenous culture that are embraced in the school. In the pre-K classroom, the medicine wheel is featured on one wall, and a tipi is set up as a quiet corner for the students to read and relax. When entering the school through the front doors, a large mural is a focus which demonstrates the sharing and cooperation that is valued in Indigenous traditions.
This week I felt comfortable taking on leadership roles in the classroom and was able to fully participate in all routine activities. the kids continue to amaze me with their abilities to immediately learn new things during circle and table time and stretch their imaginations during play time. Everyone is included in the classroom making for a positive environment that I am happy to be a part of.
Sincerely impressed and included Miss S.