IEC is pleased to welcome Tanya Whitney as a member of our Network of Associates. Tanya has been a teacher, resource teacher, school principal and district education leader in several New Brunswick schools and school districts. She also acted as the Project Executive for an inclusive education initiative of the Ministry of Education in New Brunswick. Tanya is a qualified mediator and is guided by a commitment to equity and human rights. She was elected president of Inclusion New Brunswick in 2022.
We recently had the chance to talk to Tanya Whitney about her experience with inclusive education:
1. Inclusion as the Scapegoat: Based on Tanya’s experience, inclusion is often asserted as the reason that something has gone wrong in New Brunswick’s education system. She believes these assertions are misinformed and that inclusive practices are challenged more than other aspects of the education system in New Brunswick.
2. Leadership Matters: A reoccurring theme during this chat is the importance of having school leaders who are committed to inclusion. Commitment means continuing to learn ways to enhance inclusive practices, even when inclusion is thought to have been achieved.
3. Inclusion is Foundational: Sometimes, inclusive practices are treated like other ‘new’ curriculum programs or education packages delivered to teachers when in fact they are more than that – inclusive practices must be foundational in the public education system.
4. Collaboration Leads to Superior Outcomes: Tanya asserted that thriving schools are most often highly collaborative. Discussions among teachers surrounding student support, co- teaching and including families in problem solving are all examples of collaborative practices Tanya has observed in prospering schools.
5. Smaller Communities and Inclusion: In smaller communities where people know their neighbours, Tanya has noted higher tolerance towards inclusion. In cities and urban areas, this sense of community is often missing, and this disconnect from other families seems to influence people’s attitudes towards inclusion in schools.
6. Siloed Arms of the Education System: A challenge many principals face is accessing the disconnected social, health and educational services targeted at students experiencing barriers to learning. Even with her extensive experience, she has found it difficult to access and navigate these services. She attributes this disconnect to middle management level communication issues in the education system. Better integration of student services with other parts of the service system and increased collaboration can make this task more manageable.
For more insights on inclusion in schools, view Tanya’s Let’s Chat About Inclusive Education session here.