The idea for this implementation project is the result of changes regarding students’ needs that I see occurring within my school. It is also influenced by discussions that are occurring at the divisional level, ones that are likely to result in future changes in how student services teams operate within the schools in my division, as we move more towards a response to intervention (RTI) model. Finally, the plan is mostly influenced by the knowledge I have gained about SRV Theory and the Respecting Diversity Program, and how the latter could encourage a more role valorizing and truly inclusive approach to supporting students at school.
In the more recent past, I have noticed an increase in the number of students with moderate to severe disabilities (social-emotional and academic) in my school. Historically, these students have mainly been supported by the student services and clinical teams through small group, or one-to-one instruction, provided in alternate settings. Not only is this approach not in line with SRV Theory, but the increase in the number of students with disabilities or specific support needs in my school also means that this approach is also just no longer feasible.
Looking at support for students with disabilities through the lens of the SRV Theory, is in line with the idea of first (and as much as possible) providing help at the whole class level, and in the classroom setting. As Wolfensberger (2013) suggests, a more positive image and perception of an individual is communicated when that person is served together with other valued individuals. The Respecting Diversity Program encourages meaningful participation for all individuals by valuing and accepting all students within a classroom. It develops self-awareness, self-acceptance, and self-respect, as well as respect for others. It values diverse intelligences and strengths and accepts everyone’s weaknesses or disabilities. “Helping students understand the advantages of having diverse learners in a classroom community helps them develop emotional resiliency and acceptance of others” (Katz, 2012, p. 32). By implementing the program, students will be able to identify their strengths and weaknesses as well as those of their peers. They will be able to look to each other for support and will learn acceptance of others by learning about disabilities through the lens of multiple intelligences. They will gain a better understanding of themselves and of others as learners, and as contributing members of the class and school community.
My SRV Theory implementation plan considers many of the ten SRV themes, but perhaps focuses more specifically on the following themes: the dynamics of and relevance of social imagery, the power of mind-sets and expectancies, personal competency enhancement and the developmental model, the importance of interpersonal identification between valued and devalued people, the pedagogic power of imitation via modeling and interpersonal identification, and finally, the importance of personal social integration and valued social participation, especially for people at risk of social devaluation (Wolfensberger, 2013).
Although I feel this program would encourage positive results in all my school’s classrooms, I have chosen two classes in particular (Class A and Class B) that I feel will especially benefit from the program. Both classes have very diverse social-emotional and academic needs. Many known and suspected diagnoses, disabilities and challenges exist within the two classes, leaving many students at risk of being cast in various devalued roles, such as the object of ridicule, the object of dread or that of a person as ‘other’ (Wolfensberger, 2013).
The teacher in Class A has also been studying SRV, universal design for learning, and the Respecting Diversity Program, and feels that the program would benefit her students. We will co-teach the program in her class, and collaborate by reflecting on the process and results together.