Showing posts from August, 2013

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

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

-------------------------------------- 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

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?

-------------------------------------- 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?

My son's response to this question is hilarious!
— 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.

"Red Lights" - My Other Blog...

It's been almost nine years now since I wrote my first blog post.  It seems so long ago... there was no Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest then but there were message boards and chat rooms that had opened up a whole new world for parents of children with disabilities.  Through these spaces I have met and remained friends with some amazing parents of children with Down syndrome.  We have shared the fears and celebrations and many of us took to blogging as way to keep each other and our families informed when the opportunity presented itself.  My blog was titled Red Lights to represent the lessons that I had been learning from my son (Mikey) about slowing down and enjoying life.

Eventually, I also began a teaching blog that went through the names "Building a Program that Works" and "Living and Learning" before evolving with my own teaching practice to "Eliminating the Box". 

As I can start to see the end of my graduate studies, I have been doing a lot o…

An Amazing Story of a School that has Embraced Inclusion

Sesame Street Self-Regulation and Executive Functioning Curriculum

Sesame Street launches its 44th season on September 16th, 2013 with a new self-regulation and executive function curriculum. Cookie Monster, the poster-child for someone needing to master self-regulation skills, attempts to explain these concepts while devising personal strategies on waiting to eat a cookie.

Tune-in to a new season of Sesame Street beginning September 16th, 2013 on PBSKids!

Go to for information on Sesame Street's 44th season.

And just a funny little sign of our times... I love that they have the hashtag #controlmeself in the middle of a video designed for preschoolers!

Access to Learning - Breaking Down Barriers

Inclusion is about increasing participation for all children and adults.  It is about supporting schools to become more responsive to the diversity of children's backgrounds, interests, experiences, knowledge and skills. (Tony Booth and Mel Ainscow)
Inclusion is about belonging and to facilitate belonging for all we must be intentional about access. This means we need to think beyond compensating for physical/motor or sensory-perceptual impairments (i.e., overcoming barriers related to lack of mobility or difficulty with manipulation and management of objects or overcoming barriers tied to visual or hearing impairments) when we think about access. We need to expand our scope to think in terms of access to learning.  This involves going beyond our belief that we are providing the opportunity to learn to breaking down barriers that may exist for students to actively participate in the process of learning.

Traditionally, we have tried to break down these barriers through a separate "sp…

Ramblings about Blueberries and Starfish

This video has made it's rounds and it seems that there are people who love it and there are people who hate it, pick it apart, and criticize it. For me it speaks to the difference between working with people and working with products. The process of providing an education to a child is complex while the process of making ice cream might be either simple or complicated.  I don't know which one as I don't know enough about ice cream making but either way, an assembly line is set up with balances and checks and at the end out comes a consistent uniform finished product that gets shipped off for consumption.  In education, we cannot reduce our students to the raw materials that we send along an assembly line with the goal of having a uniform product in the end.  We can't assume that the "raw materials" that come to us at the beginning are going to come having met some pre-determined man-made quality standard. It's not about quality control, raw materials, …

Worth Thinking About - Deficit or Strength?

-------------------------------------- Reminded me of Thomas Armstrong's writing  First Discover Their Strengths --------------------------------------

I post a new "Worth Thinking About" question each Sunday. 
In reality, I see them more as "and" statements rather than "or" statements. It is about finding the right balance so that we are being effective in supporting student learning.  Click here to check out more "Worth Thinking About" posts.

Behaviour Support Plans or Person Centered Planning

The first step in creating a Behaviour Support Plan (BSP) should be to do a Functional Behaviour Assessment (FBA).  The purpose of an FBA is to figure out why a student is displaying a specific behaviour.  The idea is that if we know the purpose of the behaviour we can plan and implement interventions to help the student display "more acceptable behaviours". 

I belong to a group on Facebook called the Autism Discussion Page.  The page is packed full of information on what we can do as parents and teachers to ensure that children with autism feel safe, accepted and competent.  Recently, there was a post about Autism and PTSD that read as follows...
It has amazed me how long it has taken for the field to accept sensory processing dysfunctioning in autism spectrum disorder. For years, the field of psychology practically ignored the sensory issues. Applied Behavior Analysis ignored it while forcing children to obey and stay in situations that were overwhelming for them. If …