So you may think this is a strange title for a blog entry about inclusion. I promise you it’s not but I will be talking about magic! Magic in all it’s wonder and glory because I am believer. I believe there are magical moments in everyday and we just have to stop and look to find them. I believe there is a little bit of magic in all of us and if we believe that we can do anything. It was the first thing I told the Fulbright panel in my interview before showing them my Harry Potter shoes I was wearing for good luck, yes there was a flick of the heel moment. But while that – shall we say – whimsical side of me was definitely on display the statement also spoke to my belief that in my role as a special education teacher, indeed as a teacher in general, I have to and do believe that there is magic in all of my students. I believe in my students’ potential, in supporting and challenging them to be their best true selves and that it is my duty and honour to be a supporting role in their journeys.
I accept this is easier to do when our students are compliant, getting good grades and moving on. Facing a student who challenges your authority, disrupts your lessons, doesn’t listen, asks too many questions or just isn’t able doesn’t spark the same joy does it? But what if we flipped that around. What if we asked ‘what is this student telling me with this behaviour?’ and more importantly ‘what is stopping this student’s magic shining through and how can I change that?’ What if we remove the barriers and build knowledge, understanding, values and skills at the same time. In other words sprinkle some fairy dust and whisper the words ‘I believe in magic, I do, I do!’ for every lesson plan and every learning and teaching experience with our students. And remember magic comes in a variety of forms, there’s no one-size fits all and we shouldn’t separate them based on if they’re a witch, elf, fairy or goblin. Magic is inclusive, as I said we have all have it inside us.
For teachers, this is why we need to believe. Our jobs are hard. We are so often faced with external challenges and obligations before we even get to our students. We have standards to achieve, examinations to prepare for, and we are more often judged by these than they joy of learning we can instil in our students, the sense of belonging we can create for them, and the belief in themselves and what they are capable of that we can nourish. We need the space to develop our inclusive practices, embrace the variability within our classrooms and stop each day to find that magic with our students. Because in the words of Roald Dahl, ‘those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.’