Great opportunity to encourage inclusion

Today I got to branch out a little and had a chance to have an impact wider than the orphanages.

I was contacted by friends from church who work in a Thai English private school and they asked if I would be willing to talk to the teachers about the disability situation in Thailand and inclusion within the school system.  So I created a Powerpoint presentation and tried to involve ideas like different learning styles, adapting the way you tackle challenges with children and why it benefits everyone to have people who are different to you around.

We designed a challenge to help the teachers consider what it’s like to be different and what helps and what hinders when a student is struggling. The challenge came with a reward and although it was clear at the beginning that the idea of an interactive session filled some with regret that they had walked in, many said afterwards that it really helped them consider things from another point of view.

I also explained how the Thai system of education works and how children that can’t conform to that style of teaching struggle to even get to stay in schools. Then I explained the alternative options and how many children end up at the orphanages if they are not in a school system and parents have to work so can’t afford to stay home to care for them and provide.

I also tried to explain my own personal struggles as a child and teen with being dyslexic. The aim was to push home how important the teacher’s role is to inspire and promote the self-worth and success of all the children.

Through the talk I was encouraged to see nods of agreement, smiles and genuine interest. I was so thankful to God for helping make it possible and helping the words I spoke not only to come out right, but clearly. Also, somehow I had no nerves at all, which is rare.

Afterwards, I was kindly invited to tea with one of the teachers I’ve known the longest and her sweet family and it was lovely to chat about the challenges within individuals, schools and society at large when it comes to perspectives of disability.  Then on the taxi journey home and through the evening more chats arose with a few teachers whom I met tonight and connected with via social media. We chatted about a few characters within classes that the teachers were struggling to help in their writing, reading and pencil control. It was really great to be able to be part of their lives.

One said later this evening in a Facebook chat that…

”I loved your interactive intro with the “suckers” (Lollies)…that really helped me think about what I need to do to help empower my students succeed. I also loved your transparency about your own struggles and history.”

Another teacher said….

”I thought it was nice to be reminded that patience is sooo important. Sometimes in the chaos of the classroom I forget to be patient with the ones who need that extra attention or time.”

As none of you will be surprised, I ran over the time permitted unintentionally, but the staff seemed to really be getting the content. When I said sorry to the senior worker of the school she said….

”Oh don’t be sorry! It was so great to have you and I think what you said was just perfect for what we had hoped to be communicated.”

In the talk I had mentioned the case of my little community buddy, Miss ND, whom I’ve mentioned previously in blogs and also a new little boy whom I’ve not met, but who has similar difficulties of schooling not fitting. I mentioned to the school that I was told about this child who is a wheelchair user on the same day they asked me to speak. Please pray with us that if God is wishing to stir the school to accepting him and investing in him that the school will hear it from God. Watch this space on that one as I work out meeting with him and his parents some time in the near future.

All in all, I really enjoyed this and felt it went really well. God is faithful when we ask him to speak for us and I believe he did. Also, the idea of a school considering their call to enhance the inclusion concept and more children possibly getting into school can generally help society be more accepting.

I seek your prayers for the teachers who listened, the families and children with challenges and society’s attitude to disability in general. Also, please pray for the child who is struggling to find a school that works with his difficulties. Pray for God’s almighty power to bring about success and the chance for him to reach his potential.

Thank you to the school for welcoming me and for the chance to connect and assist them. God works out all things for good and if my dyslexia can be a witness and used by God, I thank God for the chance to share.

Nicola Anderson.

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