Including everyone is worth the effort

Photo courtesy of Darrell Fusaro helping hand—Hetal Pandya is one of the school district’s occupational therapists dedicated to helping students succeed in and beyond the classroom. Part of the formula to helping the students succeed is being inclusiv

My job as the Inclusion Specialist is such a blessing for me. I have the opportunity to focus on ways that I can support our district in becoming a more inclusive, supportive environment for all learners. This job suits me perfectly because I believe that we live in an inclusive universe. By inclusive, I mean a world where there are no mistakes, only opportunities for growth. Every person, and every part of nature fits together to make this wonderful life experience what it is.

I often work with students who are having difficulties fitting into their school environment. It might be due to learning challenges, or some form of emotional upset. When I meet my students I naturally wonder, “How does this person fit into the bigger plan?” I ask myself this question from a place of knowing that we all serve a purpose in the wellbeing and expansion of our world.

My own perception about how things should look, sound and feel can limit my ability to tap into the greater good that is always attempting to make itself known to me. This can also happen systemically because of all of the requirements placed on teachers and school staff related to standards, pacing and curriculum. When a student falls outside of these expectations, we are left to ask deeper questions about how to integrate our children back into their world in a way that works for everyone.

So much of what I do depends on my own outlook. When I am in an inspired state of mind, it is easy to appreciate, encourage, and educate my students. We come together in lunch groups and problem solve by tapping into each child’s innate ability to resolve the conflicts they are facing and reframe them as opportunities for growth. From a healthy place, I can adeptly help them navigate through these circumstances into a place of greater wellbeing. On the other hand, when I am feeling down, it is impossible for me to effectively guide others toward their own wellbeing.

I, like many other people, have faced my own individual challenges. As a result, I have come to see that life is always pulling me in the right direction. My greatest struggles often lead to my greatest triumphs. The key is my own willingness to surrender anything I am holding onto that is not working. This includes behaviors and beliefs that are counterproductive to my own happiness.

One of the best tools for surrendering to the flow of life is gratitude. We let ourselves off the hook when we give up the struggle, the blame, and the judgment and move into gratitude for the sacredness of everyone and everything in our lives. Seeing the perfection in every person is a gift that we give to ourselves. I find that taking the time to get quiet and say, “Thank you”, for everyone in my life, including my students, my colleagues and the families I work with, produces amazing results. Through these simple moments of gratitude, my own inclusive understanding is naturally restored and I bring a new level of enthusiasm to everything I do and everyone I meet.

So take the time to sit down and say thank you for everything and everyone in your life. If that seems too hard, start with the things that are going well, and then slowly expand your practice to include the good and the bad. The purpose of this activity is to get back into the flow of life and see the perfection in this opportunity we have to create great experiences together. It is often the people that seem to be giving us the hardest time that point us toward our greatest learning. At the end of the day it takes less time and energy to include and appreciate people, and the fun we have is priceless.

Edward Biagiotti is the Inclusion Specialist for Culver City Unified School District. He is also co-host of the popular radio show, Funniest Thing! with Darrell and Ed, live each week at 3 pm on www.UnityOnlineRadio. org. Visit www.TappingInto- for more articles and a free, inspirational parenting download.

Including everyone is worth the effort