Showing posts from May, 2013

Indicators of Inclusive Schools: Continuing the Conversation 2013

The Inclusive Education Branch of Alberta Education has released a new document titled Indicators of Inclusive Schools: Continuing the Conversation 2013.

An explanation of the indicators section of the document reads as follows:
Indicators of Inclusive Schools is organized around five dimensions 1. Establishing Inclusive Values and Principles 2. Building Inclusive Learning Environments 3. Providing Supports for Success 4. Organizing Learning and Instruction 5. Engaging with Parents and Community 
Each of the dimensions is supported by sample indicators that provide descriptions, based on current research and promising practices, of what each particular dimension might look like. A number of indicators contain links to further information, examples and resources.
Although the resource has not been specifically developed as a metric or rubric to measure changes in inclusion over time, the conversations facilitated by the resource can help schools choose a focus to measure improvements o…

How to Escape Education's Death Valley

Another great Ken Robinson Ted Talk. 

What is Inclusive Education?

A few weeks ago I posted one of the Research Digests that I had written for a graduate course that I took this spring (The Continuum of Teacher Beliefs About Inclusive Education).  In the middle of each course I find that there is just too much information coming at me and I am often able to complete assignments without really processing the full meaning behind them.  It is only later when there is time that I am able to connect it all to the larger picture of what it means in relationship to what is happening in education and how it connects specifically to my job.  Three years ago I was teaching students from k-12 in a fully self-contained classroom and since then we have been making slow progress around trying to find a more inclusive way to educate these students.  It has not been without it's struggles and we are far from figuring it out but by jumping in and trying to do it I believe we are learning more then we ever could have by trying to lay all the groundwork first.  T…

Learned Helplessness

I like to clear time to just read blog posts each Saturday morning.  As I come closer to end of my graduate studies, I'm finding myself drawn to posts about "leadership" and wondering why I have never been reflective on the idea of "leadership" before.  As teachers we are leaders and the way we lead impacts our students learning and growth. 

This morning, I came across a post titled "Leaders should remove barriers... sometimes they make them worse" and it put in to words thoughts that swim around in my head about "learned helplessness".
"It’s a learned helplessness that occurs when you, or someone with influence over you, decides that something can’t be done, or perhaps in the case of business, can’t be done right." In the field of special education we so often think about "learned helplessness" be a product of how we interact with students.  Do we overprompt?  Do we do things for them that they can do themselves?  Are w…

Time to do something better...




Conditions for Learning

In the book The Learning Tree: Overcoming Learning Disabilities from the Ground UpStanley Greenspan and Nancy Thorndick Greenspan propose that "becoming a better thinking ins't primarily about learning facts. It's about mastering senses, movement, and emotions"  and then go on to say "intelligence is the progressive transformation of our emotions to produce more mature thinking abilities.  Said another way, each transformation builds higher levels of thinking and intelligence into a view of the world where each sense and emotion is strongly developed and integrated with the rest."

Pedagogy is the study of teaching methods, including the aims of education and the ways in which such goals may be achieved.  How we define what learning, thinking and intelligence are impacts our practice as educators.  The combination of taking graduate in both neurology and inclusive educational practices, changes that are being made by Alberta Education and the experiences th…

Death at School: Parents Fight Back Against Deadly Discipline

What is there to say really? This video pretty much speaks for itself.

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The Butterfly Circus

In the book Neurodiversity in the Classroom: Strength-Based Strategies to Help Students with Special Needs Succeed in School and LifeThomas Armstrong asks us to reimagine disability as a natural part of the human condition.  His message is not unlike so many others.  The first time I came across the view was probably shortly after I adopted my son and discovered Kathy Snow's book and website Diability is Natural.  Thomas Armstrong takes the idea of disability being a natural way of being a step futher and speaks to the celebration of the diversity of the human person.  He digs in to strengths that are often associated with specific "disability" labels and talks to how we should be capitalizing and focusing on these strenghts rather than focusing on the deficit inherit to a given disability.  This stuff speaks to my heart.  We all have strengths in this world and I believe it is our job as educators to work with students to discover and nurture these gifts and strengths…

Let's do things with people rather than to people...

Quote: "Oberle says he's happy to hear from the clients, advocates and parents. He also says if the timeline for the cuts is too aggressive, the government may have to adjust its expectations. "If we can't do things with people rather than to people, then that's not acceptable and we will adjust our timeline if we have to." he said."

Momentum around "inclusion" in every aspect of life seems to be gaining force recently. I process these things both as a parent and a teacher and sometimes that means conflicting thoughts and feelings. As a parent, there is a level of fear around the safety of your child and a question of ensuring they will have the services that they need to live a meaningful and connected life. How can they access the world without these "very important services". 

Today on Facebook, I came across this v…

Respecting Diversity Program

"The RD program is designed to build an inclusive learning community. The activities in the program help students develop a positive self-concept and respect for others, reduce challenging behavior, and create learning teams that support diverse learners." (Source:
In her book "Teaching to Diversity: The Three-Block Model of Universal Design for Learning", Jennifer Katz lays out three blocks that she feels are important in creating inclusive classrooms and schools.  The blocks are (1) Systems and Structures, (2) Instructional Practices and (3) Social and Emotional Learning: Developing Compassionate Classroom Communities.  The following graphic summarizes her approach:
Source: The first component of the program is the "Respecting Diversity Program".  This program consists of 8-9 lessons (depending on if you choose to the 8th) and focuses on …

What we teach "the other students" when we include all students...


You will always get more of what you focus on...


Like a Fountain