How I Started an Inclusion SubCommittee Through my PAC
A guest post by Chantelle Morvay-Adams
I started an Inclusion Subcommittee at my school about a year and ½ ago. I set it up as a subcommittee of the PAC for a few reasons:
- Many in the PAC (and throughout the whole world, amiright?) did not really understand inclusion and no blame to them, they just didn’t get it. When you don’t have a kid with special needs or have never had your kid excluded it’s not automatic to think about Inclusion.
- I didn’t want to bog down the PAC meetings just trying to explain Inclusion. I wanted to be able to speak with like minded people to bring that mindset of Inclusion to everyone, including the PAC. I also felt like the PAC had good people doing good things. I didn’t want to upset that balance and I was fairly new to the school.
- As a committee made up primarily of parents (our librarian is also a defacto member and our principal attends most meetings) we have to be answerable to someone…and the PAC obviously was the best vehicle through which to bring our ideas forward.
I set it up under the PAC. Which means there’s a process to creating this:
- You need terms of reference. Which sets out who you are answerable to, what your goals are and kind of how will you achieve those goals. My advice: keep how you achieve those goals general. You never know what direction your committee will go because every school is different.
- Put it on the PAC agenda and present it as a motion to create a subcommittee. Show your terms of reference. Bring the others who support this to explain what it is you are trying to accomplish.
- PAC votes on it. Hopefully it’s a go!
- Have monthly official meetings and invite everyone. (its about inclusion right? ) Our principal this year has been attending most of them-she has been a huge supporter. I am the chair, for now.
Organize your meeting with an Agenda, and get someone to take meeting minutes. That way it’s transparent and then you report out to the PAC at the next PAC meeting. Keep the minutes simple-you don’t need to put everything said in your minutes, mainly things you have decided on. Your meetings need to be a safe positive space for all to attend. As chair you will be helping create that environment and making sure you don’t lose sight of the goals.
We’ve been evolving since this first started. Our school is a great school but it has been a little tricky to get buy in from others besides our little group. Not that they are against it, it’s just they don’t know what they don’t know and it’s hard to communicate that when everyone is so busy. So we came to the conclusion that knowledge helps drive inclusion. We brought in an author last year who wrote a kids book on inclusion, Grayson Smith. Btw, worth looking him and his publishing company up “Peppermint Toast Publishing”, an amazing company.
But we wanted something more.
So a parent came up with a WALL OF WONDER. Each month is a new awareness month. So this year, we are doing ADHD, diabetes, kindness and compassion, autism, epilepsy, mental health etc. ….. stuff like that. Stuff that isn’t necessarily specifically taught in the class but kids wonder about. There was also the idea of a monthly newsletter etc…but for now this is what WE found to be what we could do. Our Wall of Wonder is a source of pride for us parents and we’ve been getting feedback from the kids who say they like seeing the celebrities. We also have the Wall of Wonder Translated into 3 languages: English, French and Halkomelem. Halkomelem is the language that was used in the past here and almost died out. Our school district is on the unceded territories of the Leq’á:mel, Matheqwí, Qwó:ltl’el and Sq’éwlets peoples. As language is a part of a persons culture, we here in Mission get to honor and grow that language and culture by having it taught in our schools to all of the students.
So remember every school is different….with different needs and access points.
You have to find what works for your school and what you as parents are willing to do. You also need buy in from the principal. That is not a deal breaker….but It’s been much easier with a principal who supports us.
Good luck to all wanting to start something like this. Sometimes it can be difficult when those you are trying to convince don’t seem to understand. What helped me get through the first bit…and still does to be honest when I try all new things. I think of Bruce Lee, I know sounds weird. We are not really fighting…but we kind of are, aren’t we?
“You must be shapeless, formless, like water. When you pour water in a cup, it becomes the cup. When you pour water in a bottle, it becomes the bottle. When you pour water in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can drip and it can crash. Become like water my friend”
….and to me, water…it can shape mountains. ￼;)