Today was an incredibly long day with a meeting during planning, lunch duty, and two meetings after school. It was one of those days where I didn’t have much time to think/reflect/breathe. One of the meetings after school was about what our district will do to observe Disability Awareness Month (in October). The district social studies administrator asked me to write some Common Core model lessons highlighting disability awareness. Instead of just adding something to the plate of social studies teachers by asking is to teach something outside of our curriculum, the administrator had ideas of how to include disability awareness within our current curriculum.
This was a refreshing surprise for 2 reasons. First: teachers are often asked to do extra things with classes that take time away from our content. This time, the administrator thought ahead about where this would naturally fit with our curriculum. She had already highlighted documents where Enlightenment philosophers discussed who to exclude politically and the issues of being injured in factories during the Industrial Revolution. I suggested we add a contemporary lesson about Iraq and Afghanistan veterans returning with physical disabilities and mental disorders. All of these items fit well within our curriculum standards, so it will be much easier to encourage teachers to use these lessons.
Secondly, she asked an actual teacher to create the lessons teachers will be asked to use in the classroom. So often these mandated activities are created by people who haven’t been in the classroom in a long time. My students today are different than they were when I first started teaching just 5 years ago. Getting teachers to create these lessons is critical.
That’s what’s right in education in my district today.