Celebrating Inclusive Schools Week

Celebrating Inclusive Schools Week

Published in Chinese in Sing Tao Daily and in Spanish in El Tecolote.

By Dr. Vincent Matthews

This month, we’re taking time to celebrate something that’s at the heart of what public schools are about. We have inclusive schools, which means we include everyone—and I mean everyone—in our classrooms and our schoolyards.

Inclusive Schools Week champions the progress that schools are making in providing a safe and supportive learning environment for an increasingly diverse student population.

The theme for Inclusive Schools Week this year is "Rebuilding Our Inclusive Community Together,” recognizing the unique opportunity to reimagine how schools can direct talent, time and energy to strengthen a commitment to inclusive education. As we return from hybrid and remote learning due to the pandemic, this is an exciting time for restoring and rebuilding a shared community of learners, educators and leaders.

Historically, Inclusive Schools Week has been an opportunity to honor all students with disabilities as full members of our school communities. In recent years it has also become an opportunity to learn and teach about the intersection of disabilities with other categories of identity, like race, gender, class, cultural heritage, language preference and other differences. 

All across San Francisco, our schools celebrate inclusion in many ways. Some schools have a “Random Act of Kindness Day,” and a “Sit With Someone New at Lunch Day.” Some schools ask students to make a list of “Things that make our school inclusive,” and people read from the list each morning.

When we teach students about inclusivity, we ask them to put themselves in other people's shoes. Imagine if people thought this way every day — we would have a lot less hurt feelings. We can make schools, and the world, a better place just by being kind to each other and celebrating that our differences are part of our strength.

If your child goes to an SFUSD school, I hope they share with you how they’re learning to appreciate that people have different kinds of intelligence. I hope they express even more empathy for others.

One of the great things about our inclusive schools activities is that they aren’t just for school — they can be practiced at home, too. 

You can check out some resources for your child and family on the Inclusive Schools Week page on sfusd.edu, in the 2021 Inclusion Resource Guide, and the Inclusive Schools Week Bitmoji Classroom. A new resource for 2021 includes a tutorial on building a “Peace Corner,” a quiet, welcoming space where students can calm themselves.

I hope Inclusive Schools activities help all of our students gain an understanding and learn about the diverse lives of their classmates. And I hope that we all remember to be inclusive in the classroom, on the schoolyard, and in our communities all year long.

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