Showing posts from 2011

Spotlighting the Strengths of Every Single Student: Why US Schools Need a New Strengths-Based Approach by Elsie Jones-Smith

I have just started reading this book and am only a few chapters in but am finding it to be a great read!  The premise of the book is to build classrooms and school that are driven by student and teacher strengths rather than on re-mediating weaknesses.  It is a pretty big paradigm shift because as teachers we want to find the things that students don't know and then teach those things to the students.  This book argues that our time and energy should be going in to finding what students are good at and growing that instead. 

The theme of the book is that we learn more from using our strengths than from trying to fix our weaknesses.  When we focus on the things that students are not able to do we will often use a lot of energy to only get a student to a point of mediocrity.  If we put that energy in to strengths, students would move to a point of excellence and because of the increase in self-efficacy and awareness, the student will often end up righting the weakness him or hers…

Clutter Free and Focuses for 2012

2011 has been a very busy year for me.  In July I started my Masters degree and this will be keeping me busy through to April 2014.  The program (Inclusive Education and Neuroscience) is amazingly interesting and challenging.  Life is busy and sometimes very overwhelming but I'm excited to be a part of this program and looking forward to continued learning.  My job has also changed quite a bit through the course of this year as we are shifting from teaching my students in a self contained classroom setting to teaching them in general education classrooms.  This also means that my students are the process of being moved to age appropriate schools and by next year they will be in three different schools.  There are many unknowns right now with the whole process and it has been a challenge at times to just stay in the now.

Life has not always been easy in 2011.  I am processing all these changes on a personal, professional and parental level and at times it is overwhelming.  There ha…

Great Article: The Importance of Taking a Strength Based Perspective by Mary Beth Hewitt

As my role moves from being in my own classroom to supporting my students in other classrooms I am finding that I need to step back and analyze things that I do and believe in so that it can be projected in to my students new environments.  In a self-contained classroom it is easy to take a strength based approach because we do not have some of the same pressures that exist in a classroom full of 30 students who all need to get through the same curriculum in the same amount of time.  It is making me stop and think. I found this great article on the CPI website and wanted to pass it on.

Link to Article: The Importance of Taking a Strength Based Perspective by Mary Beth Hewitt

For some reason the article is cut off at the end and the "Eight Behaviours of the Strengths Based Teacher" table is not included.  It's a great table that lists the eight behaviours as well as examples of framing things from a flaw and strength focus.  The 8 behaviours are:
Focus on what the student…

Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter by Liz Wiseman

Although this is a business book there is much in here that applies to education on all levels - at the administration to teacher level but also at the teacher to student level.  It's a great read and examines what it is about some leaders that make others better and smarter.  It speaks to the need to step back and let others grow rather than stepping in and managing.  It is based in the idea of "growth mindset" that seems to come up again and again in the things that I'm reading.  It is based in the idea that we are always asked to do more with less... which means we need to find ways to leverage the assets that exist because we can't add anymore.  It is about letting people live their passion which means that work will not be work.  It is about growing other people's intelligence by engaging it.  It sometimes goes against what we want to do as teachers - as we want to impart wisdom or help or make things easier by laying the path.  It is worth the time it …

Strength Based

Let's start with a link to an amazing video of Scott James at his 2009 X-Factor Audition on this one...

Alberta Education through it's Action in Inclusion movement is looking to move from a "deficit based model" to a "strength based model" for serving students with "special needs".

People talk about 'starting with the positives' but strength based means not only starting with the positives but also ending with the positives.  When Scott James got to the point of not leaving his house they could have focused on ways to get him out of the house - social skill lessons or a behaviour support plan to reinforce leaving the house or addressing his sensory challenges by giving him tools to help him cope.  Instead they looked to what he could do and what he loved - singing - and they grew that.  They found him a teacher/mentor and he found himself a goal to shoot towards and in the end he left the house not beca…

Everybody is a Genius


Positive Thoughts


Peer Support Strategies

It's amazing that even though we all look at things through different lenses in the end good education is just good education.  I've been exploring peer support strategies quite a bit lately.  From the reading and research that I've done it is evident that if properly implemented and supported, peer support strategies could go a long way in creating inclusive opportunities for my students and in enhancing the learning of other students in the general education classroom.

What amazes me in all of this is how this directly ties in to a bigger picture - that learning collaboratively is not just something to be looked at for my students and the peers that could support them - that if we took the strategy that would make it work for my students and applied them to all students in the classroom it would benefit all of them.

I really enjoyed this video hat speaks to learning in collaboration.  There are some direct comments on learning not happening later in the video.

It doesn&#…


There seems to be a common theme emerging in everything that I'm studying and reading about inclusion for students with "significant disabilities" and that is one of focusing on finding ways to increase participation rather than just focusing on "access to curriculum".

I have just finished a group project for my masters program where we looked at SMART inclusion.  The course we are currently taking focuses on UDL, DI and Assessment.  SMART inclusion starts with the concepts of UDL and DI but then uses the Participation Model and Aided Language Stimulation (two SLP concepts) to ensure that all students are able to participate in the class both socially and academically.  Check out the SMART inclusion wiki which was created by the founders of the concept for background: and check out the website we created that synthesizes what we learned while looking up information related to SMART inclusion: http://www…

I Choose...


Purpose of this Blog?

As time goes on and I learn more, I find that although I become more sure of the base of what I believe in, I also become more unsure of how it all fits in to this world that already has some very established ways of doing things.

I'm working on three different research projects for my Masters right now and wanted to share the evolution of thought that I've had around all three of them to this point...

We are doing a group research project on Smart Inclusion. It started for me as looking at one specific strategy that I felt could be used to facilitate inclusion of my students in general education classrooms.  I thought that it would be an approach that teachers would be excited about and a great place to start (so many still want to find more effective ways to use their Smart boards so this concept speaks to that).  I haven't changed my mind - I still see this - but things have expanded.  I'm now thinking about the concept of integrating mainstream and assistive techn…

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