We had to stop everything, throw out the lesson on volume that I had painstakingly prepared for. They came in from recess, surrounding me with their tear stained faces and denials of wrongdoings.  They came in posterizing about having enough players and the best being on the same team.  Boys and girls.  Same issue.  Someone felt excluded.

I have a real issue with exclusion.  I have always felt very strong about the importance of including everyone in schools.  While pursuing my MIT, I read for one of my classes the book, “You Can’t Say You Can’t Play.”  It is all about a teacher who researched with her students that concept of exclusion.  She basically started with the idea that you can not tell another student that they cannot play for any reason at school or any public place.

I tend to especially agree in school.  Every student has to be at school.  They do not get to choose which class they are in , who they sit by, or even which school they go to.  They have to be there.  And they are there for an important purpose, to learn.  Your mental state effects your ability to learn.  Students have so much going on outside of school that effects their learning.  At school they need to feel safe.  Safe enough to take the risks it takes to learn.  But unfortunately, students often feel the opposite.

They feel alienated.  Uncertain on how to navigate the social spheres.  How to make friends.  When they make friends, they don’t know how to keep them.  And these thoughts overwhelm them and consume all of their energy.  As they sit in a room and try to learn.  It’s all too much.

It’s such a simple rule to follow, “you can’t say you can’t play”.  If you can’t play a game with everyone, then no one plays.  And saying you can’t play includes body language.  Simple.  Well not really.  But the idea is simple.  Following through…. not so much.

“He tried to follow us and I played with him last week.  This week I want to play with him instead.”

“They told me that they had enough players and that I should go play with the other boys.”

“She told everyone that we were telling secrets about her.”

You excluded someone.

Did you exclude someone today?  Or did you go out of your way to say not only “you can play” but also “do you want to play?  We will find a way.”

You can’t say, you can’t play…


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