Action Tips: Lead an Inclusive Group

DO THIS!
GO
  • PEOPLE DOING IT5

Whether you are doing a simple game or teaching an entire play or musical to your group, doing something that includes your classmates with and without disabilities is great. Here are some things you might encounter in inclusive activities and how you should address the situation:

A student doesn't like the skit that he or she is in.

Early in the process, it might be easy to change things to fit what the student wants. However, if it's too late in the process, or isn't in sync with the rest of the group, think of a compromise. If compromise isn't possible, explain why it doesn't fit.

No matter if he or she has a disability or not, a student won't always get his or her way. Group activities are all about what's best for the entire process overall.

OR... if you’re trying to do more general:

A student doesn't like an activity or an idea another participant has.

At certain times and in some activities, it might be easy to change things to fit what a particular student wants. Think about how each participant can have their voice heard and contribute to the group’s activities. However, sometimes not everyone will get exactly what they want. If it's too late in the process, or isn't in sync with the rest of the group, think of a compromise. If compromise isn't possible, explain why it doesn't fit.

No matter if he or she has a disability or not, a student won't always get his or her way. Group activities are all about what's best for the entire process overall. Make sure this is clear to all your participants.

Someone uses inappropriate or offensive language or gestures.

People who use offensive language or gestures aren't usually trying to hurt people's feelings. Often times, a student just has a lack of experience. When someone shows this behavior, address it directly and explain why it is hurtful. If it's not a group issue, remember to talk with the student individually so that you don't embarrass him or her.

A student is having an off day.

Have a break table or an area where students can relax in case a student isn't into the activity or rehearsal that day. This isn't a "time out" space; it's a place that students know is available to them when they just need a quick moment alone.

Other time students just need to vent - give them the opportunity to tell you what's wrong.

A student wanders or doesn't seem engaged.

Always bring students back to the activity and remind them that everyone is there to have fun and work with new people. Encourage participants to put away cell phones, homework, or other things that could take their attention away from getting to know other participants and working on the activity.

A student wants to hug or touch other participants.

It’s a good idea to encourage expressions and greetings that have low levels of contact, like high fives, fist pumps, and handshakes. Some people hug, and some prefer not to. That’s totally okay! Those that want to avoid hugging should to use clear language like, "I don't like it when..." or "I only hug my family. I'd rather high five instead." Everyone should feel comfortable asking for personal space when they need it.


Source: Do Something Award Winner Micaela Connery, Founder and Executive Director of Unified Theater

Have more questions? Ask Micaela