Get inspired to include every child as fourth grade teacher, Kelly Malloy, shares us how she focuses on children. So many teachers struggle to get results and include everyone, we can do this!
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Below is an enhanced transcript, modified for your reading pleasure. For guests and hyperlinks to resources, scroll down.
Motivating Teachers to Include Everyone
Vicki: Happy Motivational Monday. Today we are talking to fourth-grade teacher Kelly Malloy from Nevada. About including every child. So Kelly what do you do to try to include every single child in your classroom?
Kelly: Well, I have a very inclusive nature or inclusive approach, philosophy or approach. And I’ve heard the word inclusive to kind of describe the inclusion of students with special needs in a regular classroom. And I’ve heard it used to describe the inclusion of students with different backgrounds or ethnicities.
Vicki: Ok, so what do you mean by that? You’re treating them all exactly the same? Or what is this approach?
What inclusion is not
Kelly: No, absolutely not treating them all the same. But giving each of them what they need and not treating them as a different child. Like this child isn’t not included because of their background or not included because of special needs, but they are all included. So, all of my students are part of our classroom community at all times.
What inclusion looks like in Kelly’s classroom
Vicki: Okay, so give me an example of what this would look like in your classroom versus a classroom where maybe some kids are not included.
Kelly: Okay. So in my classroom, I have an inclusion group with children with severe and profound mental handicaps. So most of them have IQs hovering around 65 to 70. And I have seen that they are not often included in the general education class.
When I do a math review which is my morning routine every child is a part of it. Even if a child’s goal is …say, they’re working on addition and the rest of my class in fourth grade is doing double digit multiplication or long division. Those kids are still at the carpet with us included in part of the lesson. So I might call on them on a part I know they can answer.
So if we’re doing say the long division problem and we get to the portion where they need to subtract or if we’re doing double digit multiplication. We’re at the point where we multiply, I would call on those students who are working on that as their goal and I would ask them, “What is three plus three?” or “What is three plus four?” So they are feeling a part of answering our whole class problem. And they are feeling a part of our group. And then if my other students are feeling that these children are special or different in any way because they are included with the rest of us.
Building empathy by reading the book, Wonder
Vicki: So, you’re including and you truly feel like the kids don’t feel like there is a difference?
Kelly: Absolutely not. We do a lot team building and community building at the beginning. We read the book, “Wonder” which is amazing for building empathy in students. And they start learning about how we all have our own special talents, and we all have our own special abilities.
Use examples of how you struggle to build empathy
And likewise, we also have our struggles and things that we work on. And I use a lot of examples from myself like I’m not a runner. It’s not my thing. I’m not good at it but I could get better if I wanted to if I certain steps to practice. And I ran a little bit more each day. So we really work on a …on building them up as …we’re all growing…every one of us. And some of us may grow slower, some of us may grow faster but we are all working on our own goal and our own journey.
Things that make students feel unincluded
Vicki: So Kelly, you are passionate about this. What do you think the biggest mistake that teachers make with kids that really make them feel disincluded?
Kelly: I think thinking that they can’t do things. They more that we think that they can’t, they more we exclude them. Students may not be able to read at grade level like I had mentioned about using “Wonder”. And I have all my students follow along with it as I’m reading it out loud.
And every single student there is able to engage in conversation and talk about how they feel, talk about how they’re feeling about how the characters are being treated regardless of their ability to phonetically decode the words.
They’re all a part of it, so I think if we look at children from their strengths of what they can do. Instead of what they can’t do, then teachers can be more successful.
What about the pressure about testing?
Vicki: But do you think some teachers are under so much pressure for the kids to do well on “the test” and have to go so fast that they feel like, ”I just can’t include these kids” and I say that, I would never say that, but I’m just saying that could be said.
Kelly: Absolutely. I totally understand. I do feel the pressure. I feel it every year. And every year I try to get better at it. Because it rubs on the kids when we are feeling pressure and like oh my gosh we have to get this, we have to do this. And then it brings kind of a negative thing to the whole community. And so we really need to work on … yes, we do need to have our children master certain standards but we’re teaching human beings, we’re not teaching them to be prepared for a test. We’re teaching them to be prepared for life, and dealing with people from different backgrounds is part of life.
Positive feedback from a child whose life was changed
Vicki: Kelly, give me a story of some feedback you got from a parent or from a student. I know we have a sweet note that I will definitely include in the blog post (see above) that you got from a student. But give us a story about the power of what happens when you take an approach to include every child.
Kelly: I had one that in my class that he had anxiety issues and he was very nervous about working in a group. And he was really nervous about his abilities. And he came into my room and his mom was very forthcoming with his issues and what he struggled with. And I told her, “He’s gonna be fine.”
I love every one of my kids, they become my kid – I will be just as passionate about this child as you are. And we did things small. He did not have to do group work right away. But we kinda inched him over every little bit. “Okay you’re gonna work on your own but you’re gonna sit next to this team.” Or eventually, you’re going to work on this, this part of it. We just slowly brought him out.
And so afterward, at the end of the year, she wrote this thing on Facebook and she said how I changed his life. And how he came from this child who thought he was on an island of misfits to finding his island in our classroom. And they weren’t misfits. It made me cry.
Vicki: Well you know, that’s what we hold on to because they’re someone’s kids, and I’ve said this before on the show, that they can be alone in a room with a book and teach themselves. But where we as teachers truly earn our legacies is when we reach the kids that people say can’t be reached.
Kelly: And I think that goes back to that testing thing. Any teacher can have the highest test scores in the building if you teach those kids that you’re saying … you could hand them a book and they could read. Any teacher could do that. But it’s the true teachers that can teach all of the kids, not just those.
Vicki: Yea, I love it. And I love your heart for including every single child. Because this is the motivational Monday, Remarkable Teachers because this is who we are. I know it’s hard. As we record this in the summer, I’m thinking about my school year and there are a couple of kids that I’ve literally been praying over the whole summer. I’m a little bit stressed … how am I going to reach this child, what am I gonna do? They’re already on my mind, they’re already on my heart. Because I can’t just let them sit to the side and not be included and not learn. And we all have kids who struggle and that is where we truly become remarkable teachers. It’s when we don’t settle until we’ve reached every child and help them become the very best they can be. Kelly really has the heart of a remarkable teacher.
Kelly: Thank you. I appreciate that.
Bio as submitted
Kelly Malloy is a 4th-grade teacher in Fernley, NV. She is passionate about motivating reluctant learners and providing an inclusive environment in the classroom. She can be found at her teaching blog, An Apple for the Teacher https://applefortheteach.blogspot.com/.
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