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Showing posts from 2013

A Full and Meaningful Life

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"Today I still have limitations, difficulties and deficits, but they do not define me. Instead they inform me. I can plan my life accordingly, ensuring supports, down time and accommodations so I can be the human being I want to be in this world. Today I have a full and meaningful life. I am content and happy and I am still just as autistic as I have always been." 
(Source: https://ollibean.com/2013/09/23/dont-define-deficits)


Sometimes I find it hard to balance my job and parenting a child with "disabilities" particularly given the fact that my son (Mikey) is on my "case load" at work. There are benefits and drawbacks to being both his mother and his "case manager"/"inclusion facilitator".  

Perhaps the biggest benefit is that it allows me to see his education and the education of all the students and families that I serve as being about more than just the years and hours that they will spend at school.  It puts me in the position to an…

Worth Thinking About: Reacting or Responding

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Reminded me of Ross Greene's philosophy of "Kids do well if they can." -------------------------------------- 
I post new "Worth Thinking About" questions on Sundays.  In reality, some might be more "and" statements rather than "or" statements. It is about finding the right balance so that we are aware enough to be effective in supporting student learning.

Click here to check out more "Worth Thinking About" posts.

Masters Capstone

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A week ago, I attended our second last formal gathering with the masters cohort that I have been learning with and from for the past 2.5 years.  The next time we will get together as a group is in April to present our Capstones.  These past 2.5 years of balancing going to school, work, parenting and personal have been far from easy but I would never trade the experience and learning and getting to know the amazing people in this cohort for "easy".  I'm humbled every time I get together this this group of educators as the passion and compassion that they have for education, students and humanity shines through in everything they say, share and do.

The process has been even more meaningful as it has occurred at the same time as my job and the way we serve the students that I work with has evolved.  We started this program in July 2011 and in September 2011 we began the process of making the general education classroom the primary placement for the students that I had, to …

Enabling does not equal empowering...

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To enable is to "supply with the means, knowledge, or opportunity" to achieve a goal. We enable others by minimizing barriers, helping them and possibly even by creating extrinsic rewards or consequences to "encourage" them to move in the direction of the goal. When we enable someone we may end up setting too low of standards, doing too much for them, over-focusing on the rote what and how, stepping in and rescuing or directing when things are not getting done. We give people structures because "they like structure". Enabling a person often leaves the power in the hands of someone outside of the person who is being enabled. At the end of the day, that person is able to do the task but doesn't necessarily have control over the choice to do it.  Is that person independent?  Is that person autonomous?  What is learned helplessness in reference to the idea of independence and autonomy?  

Empowering, on the other hand, involves turning over control to an…

Worth Thinking About: Deficit in the Child or Deficit in the System

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Reminded me of Jonathan Mooney's belief that "people don't have disabilities but experience disabilities in environments that aren't accommodating or inclusive of the wide continuum of human differences." Video: Jonathan Mooney Inspires New Perspectives and Laughter -------------------------------------- 
I post a new "Worth Thinking About" question each Sunday.  In reality, some might be more "and" statements rather than "or" statements. It is about finding the right balance so that we are aware enough to be effective in supporting student learning.

Click here to check out more "Worth Thinking About" posts.

Worth Thinking About - Discipline or Punishment?

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Reminded me of Ross Greene's philosophy of "Kids do well if they can." -------------------------------------- 
I post a new "Worth Thinking About" question each Sunday.  In reality, some might be more "and" statements rather than "or" statements. It is about finding the right balance so that we are aware enough to be effective in supporting student learning.

Click here to check out more "Worth Thinking About" posts.

What is Success?

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This past week, one of my students who is currently learning to navigate a visually supported communication system on his iPad, was supposed to give a pre-planned and recorded presentation on using Tap-Speak-Sequence (a separate app from his regular communication system) during drama class. 

We all went in to the week knowing that this student might not even get up to the front of the room as he is not much for "performing". This was okay as the learning experience that we were focusing on in this activity was tied to creating and recording the sequential script.  We had taken the assignment and he had worked with both a learning assistant and peers to answer yes/no questions and navigate around his communication system to find the things that he wanted to put in to the co-created sequence that he would use when he did his presentation. 

Presentation day came.  There is no doubt that this student would have gone up and obediently tapped the screen each time he was suppose…

Worth Thinking About - Special or Not?

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Reminded me of Thomas Hehir's work related to  Confronting Ableism. -------------------------------------- 
I post a new "Worth Thinking About" question each Sunday.  In reality, some might be more "and" statements rather than "or" statements. It is about finding the right balance so that we are aware enough to be effective in supporting student learning.

Click here to check out more "Worth Thinking About" posts.

Worth Thinking About - Burden or Privilege?

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Reminded me of Peggy McIntosh's writing
White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Backpack. -------------------------------------- 
I post a new "Worth Thinking About" question each Sunday.  In reality, some might be more "and" statements rather than "or" statements. It is about finding the right balance so that we are aware enough to be effective in supporting student learning.

Click here to check out more "Worth Thinking About" posts.

Finding a "Cure"

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Giving is the best communication...

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In my life, I have experienced the extreme blessing of parenting and working with children, adolescents and adults with complex communication needs.  In my job over the past eight years, I have stated how wrong it is that I'm the one we call "teacher" and they are called "students" as I so often feel that I learn more from them then they do from me. I believe in interacting with people who do not necessarily use words to communicate, you become attuned to just how vast and deep "communication" actually is.  Every single act we perform throughout the day communicates a message and in any given moment we have the ability to have an incredibly deep influence on the world and the lives of those we come in contact with.

To communicate is to have an impact on the world around you.  The following video shows how "giving" is a very powerful avenue of communication...
As an educator I find myself wondering how we can create the circumstance for our …

The Fear of Diversity

In the book The Courage to Teach Parker Palmer speaks to the layers of fear that may exist related to diversity:
This fear of the live encounter is actually a sequence of fears that begins in the fear of diversity.  As long as we inhabit a universe made homogeneous by our refusal to admit otherness, we can maintain the illusion that we possess the truth about ourselves and the world - after all, there is no 'other' to challenge us! But as soon as we admit pluralism, we are forced to admit that ours is not the only standpoint, the only experience, the only way, and the truths we have built our lives on begin to feel fragile. If we embrace diversity, we find ourselves on the doorsteps of our next fear: fear of the conflict that will ensue when divergent truths meet. Because academic and culture knows only one form of conflict, the win-lose form called competition, we fear the live encounter as a contest from which one party emerges victorious while the other leaves defeated and …

A value is not a value until we act on it...

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Students in our division will begin their new school year on Tuesday.  This past Thursday, we gathered with all the staff in our division to hear David Wells speak on the topic of replacing stress with faith.  In one section of his talk, he spoke of children in the Church and the question of what they should be doing in the Church.  He went on to share a set of rules that a Church came up with to guide people around appropriate behaviour in the Church.  He did this without judgement and spoke to the need for balance in this area.  In the middle of this example, he stated, "Then one day you wake up and you got the rules and you have forgotten the reason for the rules."

Although he was referring to the Church in this example, it applies to any institution and even to the entire human race.  In the context of education, it seems the reason should link to our purpose and our values.  What is the purpose of education?  What do we value in education?  Do our rules match our reaso…

Promote the "Medicine" of Inclusion - Sharing a Great Idea to Promote Understanding of the Connection Between "Behaviour" and "Belonging"

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Came across this great resource that I wanted to share: The Importance of Belonging

Page 11-15 outline a process that could be used with a learning support team or a whole staff to come to understand the connection between feeling excluded and behaviours.  A critical point made in this section is that behaviours are often a result of feeling excluded and when we think in terms of a consequence-driven approaches to behaviour, we are generally doing things that will further exclude the child. 

Page 16 has a chart that can be used to generate proactive plans related to increasing a student's feeling of belonging.  When we put an action plan in place related to increasing belonging for a student, we are addressing the root cause of the behaviour rather than trying to respond to the outwardly displayed symptoms.  I really like the idea of approaching this planning process from the angle of thinking through how we can facilitate specific feelings associated with belonging. 

I have no…

Worth Thinking About - Talking the Talk or Walking the Walk

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-------------------------------------- Reminded me of Drew Dudley's TED Talk about every day leadership called Leading with Lollipops. -------------------------------------- 
I post a new "Worth Thinking About" question each Sunday. 
In reality, some might be more "and" statements rather than "or" statements. It is about finding the right balance so that we are aware enough to be effective in supporting student learning.

Click here to check out more "Worth Thinking About" posts.

We Each Need a Tool Box and a Team

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I have used this graphic already for a previous post but I came across it again tonight and it sparked a thought that tied to a couple of other things I have been thinking about.  The first is this Simon Sinek clip about having a personal "Creativity Tool Box".  If a person doesn't have a "tool box" to draw from it would be difficult to see the road to success as anything other than what is portrayed on the left hand side of the diagram above.  "If you only have a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail."  You could hammer harder or hammer longer but if the problem is not a nail chances are you are going to get the same result no matter what you do with the hammer.  You either win or you fail.

When someone has a tool box they can travel a different path.  They may start out thinking the problem is a nail but when the hammer doesn't work they can go to their tool box and use a different tool.  That tool may or may not work but it doesn…

Worth Thinking About: Help or Support?

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-------------------------------------- Reminded me of the must see short film Butterfly Circus -------------------------------------- 
I post a new "Worth Thinking About" question each Sunday. 
In reality, some might be more "and" statements rather than "or" statements. It is about finding the right balance so that we are aware enough to be effective in supporting student learning.

Click here to check out more "Worth Thinking About" posts.

Perception as a Barrier to Learning Part 2

Kind of crazy how a Ted Talk related to what I write about seems to pop up right after I write it.  Came across this today and wanted to add this great Ted Talk by Eduardo Briceno to what I posted about yesterday.  Our perception of "intelligence" matters because we pass it on to our students.


"The difference between these two
groups... a different perspective
on intelligence."

None of this is about a list of things to do. It's about what we believe. Can we really say we are operating from a growth mindset if we believe that there are some students that we just cannot educate with their peers?
"If you hear 'I can't do it,' add 'yet'!"

Perception as a Barrier to Learning

Came across a great video this morning. 

Although the video is about health care, it also applies to education.  The way we perceive students an their behaviours impacts how we interact with them and whether or not they will engage with and, more importantly, how they will engage with learning. 
There are obvious implications related to this video when it comes to how we interpret the "behaviour" of students but I want to focus more on how our perceptions also play a role in curriculum learning.
Response to Instruction and Intervention (RTII) is grounded in the presumption of competence, the assumption of a growth mindset and an emphasis on learner variability.
Traditionally, when a student appeared to not understand a curriculum concept, we have assumed that this is because the student is unable to cognitively understand the concept.  Our response generally was to work with the student either during class or at another time and go over the concept again by breaking it do…

Inclusion is Action!

"I don't listen too much to people whenthey tell me I can't do something.There is not a whole lot that isgoing to stand in my way."Inclusion is about finding answers to the question "How are we going to do this?"*When we take students out of their natural environment we will not be as intentional about working with them to find these answers.*

Shame as a Barrier to Learning Part 2

Came across this today and wanted to add this great Ted Talk by Brene Brown to what I posted about yesterday.    "If we're going to find our way back to each other, vulnerability is going to be that path."

Shame as a Barrier to Learning

Last week I wrote about barriers to learning.  Today I was reading this Dylexia Insight post on the National Center for Learning Disabilities website and this statement got me thinking again about what we should be doing as teachers in our efforts to break down barriers to learning: "For starters, let me tell you that when it comes to dyslexia, most people focus on reading or spelling. They should instead focus on shame. Shame is a feeling that you’re unworthy because of something you are. It’s different from guilt, which is feeling bad about something you did, like stealing or cheating. Shame comes from not feeling normal."  Sadly, as the following video outlines, this becomes a cyclical process that is difficult for a student to break out of.   It gets bigger though.  The ripple effects can go so much deeper than just not acquiring reading because reading is connected to language and we need language for self regulation.  This video outlines why we seem to see a move from…

Resisting the urge to finish prematurely...

"When you are looking at becoming an inclusive society, there really isn't a beginning or an end. It is all about the process. It is all about becoming accepting and becoming inclusive, and not reaching a finite goal." In the book Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined, Scott Barry Kaufman. proposes the Theory of Personal Intelligence where intelligence is defined as "the dynamic interplay of engagement and abilities in pursuit of personal goals." He goes on to state that "any behaviour that narrows the distance between the starting state and the goal state of a person's personal goal counts as an intelligent behaviour" and then to say that "the formulation of multiple strategies to overcome obstacles and reduce discrepancy between the starting state and the goal state is an incredibly important manifestation of human intelligence."
This definition shifts the focus from product to process and can only be realized through the lenses of presumed…

Worth Thinking About: Naked Independence or Assistive Technology?

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My son's response to this question is hilarious! #edchat#INeLearnpic.twitter.com/h4fLFUv8oj
— Brett Clark (@Mr_Brett_Clark) August 9, 2013
-------------------------------------- Reminded me of David Edyburn's writing Re-examining the Role of Assistive Technology in Learning --------------------------------------  I post a new "Worth Thinking About" question each Sunday. 
In reality, some might be more "and" statements rather than "or" statements. It is about finding the right balance so that we are aware enough to be effective in supporting student learning.

Click here to check out more "Worth Thinking About" posts.