Why Inclusion? • 9 all children more effectively. The children themselves are able to see their simi- larities and differences more clearly and see themselves as linked to all their peers rather than as members of separate populations. In this way, inclusion plays an important role in our efforts to teach mutual acceptance and create multicultural learning communities. And as you will discover throughout this book, strategies and ideas that help one child very often benefit entire groups of children. Teachers Benefit from Inclusion Successful inclusion leads teachers not just to new skills and knowledge but also to new ways of looking at children in general. It trains teachers to think of the basic building blocks of identity—how minds and bodies work, and how each person engages with the world. It builds a teacher’s ability to see connections among the children in her care and common threads within a classroom community. Inclusion also provides teachers with tools for build- ing self-knowledge and ways for using one’s own strengths and style to better understand and serve children. As we discuss in detail later in the book, inclu- sion leads teachers to a strength-based view of children. The benefits of this perspective are huge. On a broader level, inclusion trains teachers to view challenges as oppor- tunities. Children who inspire us to try harder, learn more, or use our skills in creative ways make us better teachers. A breakthrough with one child will equip us to better support all children throughout our careers. Progress that we achieve through struggle is the most satisfying kind of progress. For all these reasons, a commitment to inclusion fosters a creative, problem-solving approach to teaching and offers a model of teaching as a lifetime adventure of personal growth. Families Benefit from Inclusion Effective inclusion practices require deep and authentic partnership between teachers and families. Teachers must learn to extend their respectful, strength- based view of children to families as well. As a family’s expertise about their own child is respected and incorporated into plans for other children, families learn about their own strengths and are inspired to see themselves as capable and competent. They are also drawn into an environment in which they can learn about how children grow and learn and what kinds of perspectives and tools can make them more effective and happy families. The dedication to collaboration in an inclusive program builds bonds between teachers and all families and among all families. This inspires families to support their community, to commit to caring for each other, and to share their strengths and resources. It also presents a model to bring challenges out in the open and address them in a creative spirit of problem solving. IOIATextFINAL.indd 9 12/14/09 3:39:35 PM