The general goal of my implementation plan was to influence and encourage more respect for diversity within the classroom, thereby allowing all students to be contributing and valued members of the classroom and school. More specifically my plan was as follows:
To encourage more respect for diversity within the classroom, and to value each student’s role within the classroom, I will implement the Respecting Diversity Program (Katz, 2012) in two classes in my school (Class A and Class B). Lessons will occur 3 times per cycle, will follow the outlined lessons of the program, and will be adapted to be age appropriate. The program will be covered over a period of four school cycles in Class A, and over a period of three school cycles in Class B.
After researching inclusive practices in education a bit more, I also added another component to my plan. At least two of the peer-reviewed journals that I read during the research phase of this project (McMahon, Rose, & Parks, 2004; Morningstar, Shogren, Lee, & Born, 2015) highlighted the importance of clear and consistent behaviour and social expectations in classrooms and schools. For this reason, I decided to add explicit teaching of these to my plan for Group B.
In general, I feel as though I mostly achieved what I set out to do. Although the delivery schedule of my entire project didn’t go completely as planned, I was still successful in implementing the Respecting Diversity Program in two classes at my school.
- I was able to meet with the teachers from Group B, as well as the administrative team to share the details of my plan.
- Although I planned an implementation schedule with the teachers from both groups, these schedules proved difficult to adhere to. There were unforeseen interruptions to both schedules, and some lessons required more time than was originally planned for. The program also ran longer than was initially planned, but was completed nonetheless.
- Although I preplanned many of the activities before starting, I continued to plan throughout the program as well. The lesson on the brain and disabilities lead to many questions and student curiosity, which required a bit more planning and added lesson time.
- I was successful in allowing time for self-reflection. I made a point of reflecting in writing after every lesson. It was more difficult to find time to reflect on the process with the classroom teachers, particularly with Group B teachers. Because Group A and I were co-teaching the program, we made a bit more time to reflect together.
- I was successful in sharing the outcomes of the program with the administrative team throughout and after the process.
- I successfully added explicit teaching and practice of behaviour and social expectations to many lessons of the program with Group B. These mini-lessons usually occurred at the beginning of some of the sessions and then were practiced throughout the main lesson.
- I would have liked to gather more video footage throughout the process of the project, but this part of the plan fell through. I mostly documented the process through written reflection and photos.
Overall, I am pleased with the outcomes. Some of the feedback I received indicated that it was difficult to keep the momentum going after the program ended. To improve on this next time, I would include the classroom teachers in the delivery of the program (versus me teaching all of the lessons, as was the case with Group B) in order to give them more ownership and hopefully encourage them to continue with the main ideas and vocabulary of the program. I would also recommend doing the program at the beginning of the school year in order to build on it throughout the year.
The rest of the feedback from students, teachers, parents, administration, and even the author of the program (who has asked to use pictures of some of our work in her upcoming book), tells me that the project was most definitely a success (or at the very least, a step in the right direction). I am grateful to the teachers of Group B who welcomed me into their classroom to implement the program. I am also proud of the work that was put in by all of the students, as well as by my teaching partner for Group A. Finally, I am also encouraged by the support I received from my administrative team, and I hope that the success of the program in these two classrooms means that the program will continue to grow in my school and even beyond my school.
The following are positive outcomes I observed during and after the program:
- Students became more open and respectful during whole group discussions especially when we talked about specific abilities, challenges and disabilities that exist within their class. Even students who are generally more quiet and reserved shared openly about themselves and their challenges.
- Students spoke proudly about their differing abilities and shared how others can help them face their challenges.
- Students seemed proud to learn more about their strengths in relation to the multiple intelligences.
- Student behaviour during my lessons with Group B improved throughout the program.
- Students who often don’t participate in activities participated actively in all lessons.
- Since running the program, students have shared stories with me about how they have helped their peers facing different challenges.
- Parents have shared positive feedback and support the program.
- The author of the program has reached out, asking to share photos of the students and their work in her next publication.
Feedback gathered from students indicated that overall they enjoyed the program. Many identified the lesson on the brain and disabilities as being their favourite. A couple students with differing abilities shared that they liked reading books with characters similar to them (e.g. A turtle with AD/HD, a boy with Tourette’s Syndrome).
The following is feedback gathered from other adults during and after the program:
Plan for future steps:
- Continue to share the success and the positive outcomes of the program with work colleagues and the administrative team.
- Support teachers who are interested in implementing the program with their classes in the fall.
- Explore other components of Block 1 and discuss with the administrative and students services team how we can implement these throughout the school.
- Read Resource Teachers: A Changing Role in the Three-Block Model of Universal Design for Learning (Katz, 2013) in order to gain more knowledge on how I can better support students and teachers with Tier 2 and Tier 3 supports.