Monday, May 28, 2012

It Takes a Village

 We talk about the idea of “community” often in education.  But what is that really?  The word “community” has its roots in Latin (communitas) and is defined as a social group of any size who share common goals and values.  Educators create a feeling of community within their classrooms by having their students develop the ground rules for the group.  Community fits in nicely with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.  A sense of belonging to the group is closely tied to self-confidence, achievement, and mutual respect.   But “community” within Special Education doesn’t stop there.
Just like everyone else, students with disabilities are parts of several different communities. And because of these students’ very existence, more communities are created.  Where it is more important to have a sense of community than at an IEP meeting?  Where it is more important to share goals, values, mutual respect, and celebrate achievement than with the families of children with disabilities? 
As educators, we’re pretty good at creating a sense of belonging with our students.  But with our families, it’s much harder.  Finding common ground, sharing agreed-upon expectations, and demonstrating mutual respect is no simple thing.  Compound the variables with the diversity of cultures in our schools and we find that creating community gets harder.
Module 6: Developing Community provides an opportunity for education team members to develop and discuss creative ways to engage parents, value the contributions of all team members, and work toward consensus and mutual support.  It’s not easy; but it’s absolutely worth it.  Take a look at how PLC Consultants supports these efforts through its own online professional learning community.

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