Professionally Speaking welcomes letters and articles on topics of interest to teachers. We reserve the right to edit letters for length. To be considered for publication, all letters must be signed and provide the writer’s daytime phone number. Letters should be addressed to: The Editor, Professionally Speaking, 121 Bloor Street East, 6th Floor, Toronto ON  M4W 3M5; e-mail:


Inclusive Education Information Encouraging

The December 2002 issue of Professionally Speaking was tremendously encouraging to someone like me, not only for the information it imparted on inclusive education but also for the fact that this information was being highlighted in an official education magazine.

My extensive experience with inclusive education has been with my own daughter over a 15-year period. I know how little most teachers were prepared, how wonderful many of them were in their willingness to work with me and learn, how much good inclusion throughout a school depends upon the understanding and support of the principal (hence, a change of principal could mean a change of attitude and culture of the school) and how parents have had to advocate and are still struggling to this day.

Principal Nancy Sanders mentioned the importance of administrators supporting teachers in dealing with difficult parental situations. I wish it had been expressed in terms of difficult teacher/parent situations. As a parent I have had my share of "difficult" teacher situations. But, then, I have also seen wonderful years because of fantastic collaboration and the understanding of community by administrators.

The principals of my daughter’s Grades 2–3, and 7–8 were so involved in her education that those years became her overall best ones. At those times, I did not have to worry about finding the right teachers; the principals knew which ones understood the philosophy of inclusion.

I can vouch for much of what was said in the December issue regarding the importance of team work, involving other students in the classroom, having parent volunteers, mentoring, talented EAs, timely meetings, the knowledge needed "to understand, accommodate, adapt, and modify for students with special needs" – skills and conditions that apply to good teaching in general. It makes sense that all teachers should get Special Education qualifications, to understand the different disabilities and learn to utilize good teaching strategies for the range of abilities found in every classroom.

Carla Baudot is a former teacher and the mother of a child with special needs.

Congrats to Tribes Trainers

We enjoyed reading the article OISE Program Brings Innovation to Both Practicum and Classroom Management in your recent edition of Professionally Speaking. Tribes is flourishing throughout the world, and we would like to give credit to the origin of the process and to Jeanne Gibbs, the founder of the Tribes TLC process and the author of the books, Tribes: A New Way of Learning and Being Together and Discovering Gifts in Middle School.

We applaud the fine work that certified Tribes TLC district trainers have done in Canada, and the valuable and innovative partnership that the trainers at OISE/UT have developed with local district school boards. We know that the children of Toronto, the teacher candidates, and the participating schools and staff are experiencing a "new way of learning and being together" as a result of this exciting partnership, and the expertise of the Tribes trainers. Thank you very much for highlighting their fine work and for sharing Tribes with others.

David Gibbs is with CenterSource Systems of Windsor, California.

Rockford P.S. and Diabetes

I am a 38-year-old juvenile diabetic. I have suffered and struggled with this misunderstood disease for 20 years. It is a disease that attacks our children and then stays with us for the rest of our lives. It is a disease that children and adults so afflicted strive to deal with in our schools on a daily basis. It is a disease that requires 24-hour vigilance on the part of the child, family and school to ensure our safety and health. It requires patience, willingness, compassion and knowledge to help us all address the daily obstacles faced by someone with juvenile diabetes.

I want to commend and thank the staff and students of Toronto’s Rockford Public School, and especially Maxime Ritche, for their initiative and for taking an important step together with me and the more than 2 million other Canadians with diabetes down that road of compassion, understanding and knowledge.

The Kids Walk to Cure Diabetes program of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation is an excellent opportunity to blend learning and community service and I thank you for raising money for research and awareness of what it is like for someone with diabetes.

Thanks again to Rockford P.S. You have shown the true spirit of teaching–compassion, knowledge and a willingness to learn.

Alan Patt is chair of the Diabetes Council of Canada and a resident of Toronto.

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