“Inclusion is a Feeling. Let That Marinate”: Three Educators Who Experienced Self-Contained Special Education on the Impact of Inclusion

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The Balance of Expanding and Transforming

The Teachers College Inclusive Classrooms Project (TCICP) hosted a day-long conference of workshops on inclusive education led by teachers and paraprofessionals, called Expanding Mindsets, Transforming Practices.

TCICP kicked off the day with a powerful panel discussion featuring: Stephen Numme, special education STEM teacher at The Bronx School for Continuous Learners; Michelle Singleton, now the Director of Special Education at the Queens South Field Support Center; and Abby Lovett, now principal of Bronx Design and Construction Academy.  

In addition to shared success in their roles as inclusive educators, the trio has one more thing in common: As children, all three had been placed in self-contained special education classrooms. Stephen, Michelle, and Abby describe the intense, lived experience of those classrooms, and explain how those experiences helped shape their vision of inclusion today.

They speak about how boredom, labeling, and cultural disconnections affected their behavior and others’ perception of them. They underscore how positive relationships with adults and rigorous expectations disrupted those negative experiences, and provided them with more inclusive spaces to learn and grow as young people.  

Today, Stephen, Michelle, and Abby consider those same experiences —but this time, for their students. They know first hand the impact separate spaces can have on the students they serve and work hard to provide active learning and inclusive thinking spaces for the children and adults with whom they work. As Abby Lovett states, “Inclusion is a feeling. Let that marinate. What does it feel like, look like, sound like, to be included?”  As we continue our quest to gain more inclusivity within our practice for both young people and adults, let’s continue to ask ourselves those same questions.

Watch their featured video to learn more.