Think Inclusive

  • 32. The Importance of Inclusion in Education: A Principal's Perspective with Will Parker

    01:04:14
    About the Guest(s): Will Parker hosts "Principal Matters: The School Leaders Podcast." With a rich background in education spanning over three decades, Will Parker has established himself as a seasoned educator and an influential voice in school leadership. Having served as a high school administrator for over 13 years and then as an executive director for a state Principals association, Parker boasts an extensive understanding of the challenges and triumphs within educational leadership. In his current role, he dedicates himself full-time to Principal Matters LLC, offering consulting services to principals and leaders across schools in the United States and internationally. His podcast has reached an impressive milestone, boasting 1.4 million downloads and nearly 400 episodes.Episode Summary: In this insightful episode of the Think Inclusive podcast, host Tim Villegas welcomes Will Parker, a seasoned educator and podcaster, to delve into the nuanced world of school leadership and the pressing issues facing principals today. Addressing the current climate in educational leadership, Parker brings to light the arduousness of a principal’s role, especially in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.The conversation begins with Parker highlighting the findings of a survey by the National Association of Secondary School Principals, revealing the staggering stress levels and mental health needs among school leaders. He highlights the complexities of managing safety, inclusivity, and the school environment amidst heightened scrutiny. As the dialogue progresses, they touch on the fundamental importance of inclusion not only for students but also for educators, illustrating how dignity and equitable access in education are central tenets of Parker's ethos. Showcasing real-world experiences, Parker shares poignant narratives reflective of the transformative power of empathetic leadership in schools.Transcript: https://otter.ai/u/K1jQrg_5VWcDKVxWpRWgaQ6Y1RoKey Takeaways:A significant number of school leaders consider career changes due to high-stress levels and confrontations, which sheds light on the current crisis in leadership within the education sector.Inclusion is vital to the fabric of educational environments, emphasizing the human right to education for all children, irrespective of background or ability.Leadership involves a keen understanding of the individuals you serve, requiring differentiation in teaching, disciplinary approaches, and communication.The episode addresses the necessity for educators and leaders to uphold principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion amidst politically charged environments, emphasizing demonstrating unwavering love and support for students.Imaginative thinking and empathetic engagement are foundational strategies for school leaders to support teachers and nurture a successful learning environment, especially regarding inclusion.Resources:Principal Matters with William D. Parker: https://williamdparker.com/NASSP Survey of Principals and Students Reveals the Extent of Challenges Facing Schools: https://www.nassp.org/news/nassp-survey-of-principals-and-students-reveals-the-extent-of-challenges-facing-schools/Thank you to our sponsor, DCMP: https://dcmp.org/MCIE: https://www.mcie.org/
  • 31. How Oregon Prioritizes Early Childhood Inclusion

    01:06:04
    About the Guest(s): Meredith Villines has 20+ years of working in early care and education and is currently at the Oregon Department of Education in the Office of Enhancing Student Opportunities. Meredith’s primary roles have been a classroom teacher in inclusive childcare and preschools, lead teacher in an Early Childhood Special Education classroom, Itinerant Special Early Childhood Education Teacher and Home Visitor, behavior specialist, trainer, and part-time faculty at Portland Community College.For the past 16 years, Autumn Belloni has focused intensively on working with children from birth to age five and their families and collaborating with staff and community providers who serve this population. Autumn serves as the Director of the Early Intervention/Early Childhood Special Education Program for the Linn, Benton, Lincoln Education Service District. In this role, she oversees and guides various aspects of special education and inclusive practices, leveraging her background as a speech/language pathologist and lead teacher in Early Childhood Special Education settings.Episode Summary: Meredith Villines and Autumn Belloni uncover the strides Oregon has taken toward setting a standard for inclusivity in early education, highlighting the shared belief in the importance of inclusive education right from the onset of a child's educational journey. Autumn and Meredith delve into Oregon's program structure, explaining how nine regions collaborate to provide seamless services for children birth through five and the supportive role of the Oregon Department of Education in fostering these initiatives. They also share valuable revelations on the impact of inclusive settings on children's learning and development, emphasizing the resultant gain in language skills, peer relationships, and teacher growth when children with disabilities are included in general education classrooms.Transcript: https://otter.ai/u/quZESXyivM-ZWkldeBuUiOaGNw4Key Takeaways:Early childhood inclusion in Oregon is experiencing a dynamic shift, pushing the boundaries of traditional special education practices to foster a more inclusive environment for all young learners.Both speakers stress that inclusive education benefits not just the children experiencing disabilities, but also their typically developing peers, families, and the broader community.The Oregon Department of Education has been pivotal in providing direction and support for inclusion initiatives, further enhancing the efficacy of programs at the community level.The partnership between Oregon and the Early Childhood Technical Assistance (ECTA) Center to implement inclusive practices is a notable example of how collaborative efforts can result in significant progress.Personal stories and experiences shared by the guests underscore the real-life impact of inclusion policies on children and their families, cementing the argument for inclusive education.Resources:Oregon Early Childhood Inclusion: https://www.oregon.gov/ode/students-and-family/specialeducation/earlyintervention/pages/oeci.aspxPolicy Statement on Inclusion of Children with Disabilities in Early Childhood Programs: https://sites.ed.gov/idea/files/policy-statement-on-inclusion-11-28-2023.pdfMCIE: https://mcie.org
  • 30. ECTA: Building High-Quality Systems Supporting Inclusive Education for Young Learners with Disabilities

    59:21
    About the Guest(s): Christina Kasprzak and Dr. Megan Vinh are the Co-Directors of the Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center (ECTA). Christina brings her expertise in leading initiatives to develop equitable and sustainable state systems for children with disabilities and their families. Her personal connection to the cause comes from a family that valued community and respect for all, emphasizing the importance of education in life. Dr. Megan Vinh's drive is equally personal, vaulting from family experiences into a professional passion for inclusion as a human right. She co-directs not just ECTA, but also the STEM Innovation for Inclusion in Early Education (STEMIE) center, championing proactive and inclusive STEM learning for young children.Editorial Note: Christina Kasprzak is Director of the Trohanis TA Projects at FPG. She serves as Co-Director of the Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center (ECTA) and co-leads the FPG subcontract for The Center for IDEA Early Childhood Data Systems (DaSy). The DaSy Center dasycenter.org, led by Grace Kelley at SRI International, supports early intervention and early childhood special education state programs in building high quality data systems and using data to improve results for young children with disabilities and their families.Episode Summary: Christina and Megan discuss their role in shaping inclusive educational systems for early childhood. The episode begins with an exploration into the work ECTA does in supporting state administrators and educators. With a heartwarming emphasis on equitable access, these leaders exemplify the importance of building an all-embracing infrastructure from policy to practice.Christina and Megan delve into the tools and resources provided by ECTA that supports practitioners and families directly, such as the DEC recommended practices guides and family-friendly video materials. As they reveal challenges in creating inclusive systems, including the need for de-siloing state departments, they reaffirm the proven benefits of inclusion for children both with and without disabilities.Transcript: https://otter.ai/u/Vz2ZPx3GpJO_iB8HGeqX51SI9e4Key Takeaways:ECTA predominantly supports state administrators in improving early intervention and preschool special education programs, advocating for all-encompassing and effective practices.Both guests emphasize the profound personal and professional belief in the power and necessity of inclusive education for every child.Christina and Megan discuss the practical tools ECTA offers, which are popular with professionals and families.Inclusion benefits all children, and dismantling myths around it is essential to its advocacy and implementation.The guests point out that everyone has a role to play in advocating for inclusion, and change is possible when people at every level of the system lead from their positions.Resources:ECTA Center: https://ectacenter.org/Practice Improvement Tools: https://ectacenter.org/decrp/Indicators of High-Quality Inclusion: https://ectacenter.org/topics/inclusion/indicators.aspState Examples for Inclusion: https://ectacenter.org/topics/inclusion/stateexamples.aspMCIE: https://www.mcie.org/
  • 29. The Autism Society: Promoting Inclusion and Amplifying Autistic Voices

    49:52
    About the Guest(s): Allie Tasche is an advocate and leader in the field of inclusive education. With over a decade of experience that includes six years as a classroom educator followed by various coaching and administrative leadership roles, Allie has specialized in systems-level practices for educational equity. Her background includes working in summer camps, group homes, classrooms, and school districts, all with a focus on disability justice and inclusion. Allie has also served as a board member of her local Autism Society, Greater Wisconsin, and currently plays a crucial role within the national team of the Autism Society as the leader of national programs for an affiliate network.Episode Summary: This episode of the Think Inclusive podcast features a fascinating conversation with Allie Tasche, an impassioned advocate for inclusive education and a key player at the Autism Society. The episode delves into Allie's personal journey, the significance of inclusion in education, and the Autism Society's effort to empower communities. Tim Villegas, the host, and Allie discuss her formative experiences and dedication to creating an inclusive environment, stemming from her family background and firsthand encounters with disability service fields. Allie highlights key insights on the Autism Society's initiatives and strategies for promoting acceptance over awareness.Transcript: https://otter.ai/u/IVFhGZyI4mI53yBCPUyR74pLyNAKey Takeaways:Inclusive education is deeply personal and vital for Allie Tasche, inspired by her family's history and experiences that sparked a commitment to disability justice.The Autism Society has progressed from an old brand that no longer represented its values to a new interconnected threads logo symbolizing the autism community's diversity and strength.Inclusive practices in schools are crucial for building a foundation for a more inclusive society across various community settings.Educators play an essential role in modeling and implementing inclusive practices beyond the classroom environment, influencing other sectors of the community.The Autism Society's National Programs team, led by Allie, is dedicated to filling community gaps by highlighting intersectionality and creating connections through programs, resources, and services.Resources:The Autism Society: https://autismsociety.org/Eric Carter's Ten Dimensions of Belonging: https://promotingprogress.org/sites/default/files/2022-02/Fostering_Belonging_Handout.pdfShelly Moore's Five P's: https://youtu.be/u7FWSMekshcPaul Gorski's Fix Injustice Not Kids Principle: https://www.ascd.org/books/fix-injustice-not-kidsMCIE: https://www.mcie.org
  • 28. Embracing Neurodiversity in STEM Education for All Learners

    01:06:03
    About the Guest(s): Dr. Jodi Asbell-Clarke is an esteemed figure in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) community, particularly in the realm of game-based learning. With a background enriched by working on the space shuttle program for its first 25 missions, she has been pivotal in linking computational thinking and neurodiversity, offering unique insights into the talents that neurodivergent learners bring to STEM problem-solving. Asbell-Clarke holds a wealth of experience and has dedicated her career to advancing equity and opportunities in STEM education through innovative methods such as educational gaming. She is a key member of the Educational Gaming Environments group (Edge) at TERC, a non-profit dedicated to STEM education.Episode Summary: Join us on the Think Inclusive Podcast as we delve into the fascinating intersection of STEM education, game-based learning, and neurodiversity with our guest, Jodi Asbell-Clarke. With an intriguing blend of personal anecdotes and professional insights, this episode offers a deep dive into the ways educators can foster inclusive STEM classrooms that empower all learners, including those who are neurodivergent.Asbell-Clarke shares her journey from being a student with a keen interest in math, thanks to a dedicated teacher, to her work on groundbreaking educational games that unlock the potential of neurodivergent learners. This conversation traverses topics from computational thinking to the transformative educational power of project-based learning, presenting novel approaches to teaching that emphasize inclusivity, differentiation, and executive function support.Transcript: https://otter.ai/u/YwCjtk2WqRqgjOS9E-llrBEiskcKey Takeaways:The link between computational thinking skills and the natural talents of neurodivergent learners can create strong competencies in STEM fields.Game-based learning can serve as a gateway to STEM for students who may not traditionally engage with these subjects, leading to improved learning outcomes.Including neurodiversity in STEM education is not about remediation but rather about leveraging individual strengths to foster a community of skilled problem-solvers.Differentiated instruction and multiple entry points into learning activities can help address the diverse needs of students in a STEM classroom.Project-based learning and games like Portal offer powerful frameworks for engrossing students in STEM education while nurturing critical thinking skills.Resources:Educational Gaming Environments group (Edge): https://www.terc.edu/edge/Zoombinis game: Available in the App StoreJodi Asbell-Clarke's book: https://www.routledge.com/Reaching-and-Teaching-Neurodivergent-Learners-in-STEM-Strategies-for-Embracing-Uniquely-Talented-Problem-Solvers/Asbell-Clarke/p/book/9781032562476Education Week Article: https://www.edweek.org/teaching-learning/inside-a-school-that-doesnt-single-out-students-with-special-needs/2024/04Thank you to our sponsor for this week and the month of April: https://autismsociety.org/MCIE: https://www.mcie.org/
  • 27. The Participation Specialists: How Occupational Therapists Can Facilitate Inclusive Education

    01:02:48
    About the Guest(s): Savitha Sundar, an Occupational Therpaist and Ph.D. candidate, specializes in inclusive practices for students with Extensive Support Needs. With over 15 years in public schools, she’s a champion for inclusive education, leveraging her OT expertise to foster access and participation. At Texas Woman’s University, she mentors future OTs and teaches as an adjunct faculty member. Savitha also serves as the Partnerships Officer at Changing Perspectives, promoting social-emotional learning. She also hosts the podcast “Inclusive Occupations,” inspiring the creation of inclusive communities for children and youth with disabilities.Episode Summary: In this episode of Think Inclusive, Savitha and Tim discuss the nuances of including students with extensive support needs in general education. Savitha unpacks her transition from a traditional understanding of educational practices to pioneering inclusive education methodologies. Her commitment to nurturing social contexts that facilitate the engagement and growth of children with disabilities shines through as she retells experiences that reshaped her professional trajectory. Leveraging her background as an occupational therapist, Savitha passionately argues for a system-wide approach, where therapists go beyond addressing motor skills to facilitate comprehensive participation and inclusion within educational settings—making her a vital voice in the call for an educational paradigm shift. Transcript: https://otter.ai/u/WDLWvC8bUiQyl5cXpSDydSh9ag4Key Takeaways:Occupational therapy can play a significant role in inclusive education, especially when focusing on social contexts.True social inclusion cannot be separated from academic inclusion, as interpersonal relationships entail community participation within an educational environment.Participation specialists, a role occupational therapists can embody, actively work against exclusion and for authentic inclusion in education.Utilizing occupational therapists as supplementary services in schools can open pathways for more effective universal design learning and inclusive practices.Hands-on examples demonstrate the potential impact of occupational therapy beyond traditional applications, enhancing engagement for students with extensive support needs in general education.Resources:Inclusive Occupations: https://pod.link/15400741358 Ways Your School Might Be Doing Inclusion Wrong: https://mcie.org/think-inclusive/8-ways-your-school-might-be-doing-inclusion-wrong/Thank you to our sponsor for this episode, the Autism Society: https://autismsociety.org/MCIE: https://www.mcie.org/
  • 26. Embracing Radical Acceptance: A Journey of Inclusion and Understanding with Dr. Leah Kelley

    01:00:22
    About the Guest(s): Dr. Leah M. Kelley is a storyteller, writer, activist, teacher educator, education consultant, and parent who identifies as neurodivergent and otherwise disabled. She was a K-12 public school teacher for over 25 years and has extensive experience supporting inclusion. Her newly published book, “The Person Who Arrives: Connecting Disability Studies to Educational Practice for Teachers, Parents, and Others,” evolved from her doctoral research, which she completed at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia. She is currently working as an adjunct professor in the faculty of education - teacher education program at UBC (University of British Columbia) and guest lecturing colleges and other programs and organizations such as CASE (The Canadian Association for Supported Employment). Dr. Kelley’s work focuses on connecting disability studies in education (DSE) to educational practice, strength-based perspectives for supporting neurodiversity, addressing ableism, inclusive practices and pedagogy, and cultivating advocacy. Episode Summary: In this episode of the Think Inclusive podcast, Leah Kelley joins Tim Villegas for a profound discussion on the intersections of storytelling, education, and disability advocacy. Right from the onset, the conversation delves into Leah's unique approach to writing and her pursuit of inclusivity through narratives. The dialogue transitions into exploring the importance of whose story is being told when discussing disability and how storytelling serves as a potent tool for learning and connection.The episode further delves into Leah’s recently published book, which embodies her dedication to inclusion, her disruptive approach to traditional academic formatting, and her belief in the power of bringing diverse voices to the forefront. Touching on topics ranging from relationships being central to learning to questioning stereotypical notions of disability, Leah challenges conventional thought with her ideas of radical acceptance and the continuous process of arrival in educational and personal contexts.Transcript: https://otter.ai/u/TmXEj6c9L3__xIMls4ZJ4c9gVKcKey Takeaways:Storytelling as an Invitational Tool: Leah emphasizes the power of storytelling in altering perspectives and engaging with complex ideas.Whose Story Is It Anyway: The conversation highlights the critical analysis of whose stories are being told, especially in the context of disability.Radical Acceptance and Arrival: Leah explains how radical acceptance of individuals and the concept of continuous arrival are intertwined in educational environments.Disability as Normal: The episode addresses the stigma and language surrounding disability, advocating for acceptance and understanding of disability as a natural human variation.Relational Approach to Education: The exchange reaffirms that nurturing relationships are at the core of inclusion, learning, and advocacy.Resources:Leah Kelley's Book: https://a.co/d/esG2PWKFacebook Group - Parenting Autistic Children with Love and Acceptance: https://www.facebook.com/ParentingAutisticChildrenWithLoveAcceptance30 Days of Autism: https://30daysofautism.blog/Thanks to our sponsor, the Autism Society: https://autismsociety.org/
  • 25. A Conversation with Sharon Draper on her 'Out of My Mind' Book Series

    49:19
    About the Guest(s): Sharon M. Draper is an accomplished author and educator, widely recognized for her contribution to young adult literature. Her career as an English teacher spanned over 30 years, engaging with students from sixth to twelfth grade. Draper's literary portfolio includes books that address diverse and compelling topics, with "Out of My Mind" being among her most notable works. She's won awards, including the prestigious Margaret A. Edwards Award for her significant and lasting contribution to writing for teens. With her lifelong devotion to creating profound connections with young readers through her writing, she has touched numerous lives and inspired countless individuals.Episode Summary: In this episode of the Think Inclusive podcast, we are joined by Sharon Draper, an exceptional voice in middle-grade literature whose books have captivated readers around the globe. Draper takes us behind the scenes of her creative process during the conversation, sharing the inspirations and challenges that shape her memorable characters and their stories. The episode begins with a deep dive into Draper's most beloved character, Melody, from the "Out of My Mind" series. The audience is given a unique window into Melody's world, exploring self-acceptance, belonging, and disability representation. Draper outlines her meticulous approach to research, emphasizing the importance of authenticity in crafting a character like Melody, who has cerebral palsy and navigates a myriad of personal and social challenges.We hear about Melody's growth and journey as she searches for acceptance both within herself and in the society around her. The conversation touches on Melody's experiences in summer camp in "Out of My Heart," her friendships, and her quest for inclusion. The episode concludes with an exciting teaser about the upcoming third book in the series, where Melody's adventures will take her out of the country, and Draper's personal stance on the critical issue of book banning.Transcript: https://otter.ai/u/4OjP10FCk_IT0clQqtXndRcQ0PAKey Takeaways:Sharon Draper's long teaching career and journey into writing began with a challenge from a student and led to the publishing of numerous impactful books for young readers.Draper emphasizes the importance of realistic character development, particularly when addressing disabilities in literature.In "Out of My Heart," Melody's character faces new challenges and experiences, such as summer camp, fostering themes of friendship and acceptance.There's an exciting anticipation for the third book in the "Out of My Mind" series, where Melody will continue to break barriers and undertake new adventures.Draper strongly opposes the current trend of book banning and advocates for the freedom to read and access to diverse literature.Sharon M Draper: https://www.sharondraper.com/MCIE: https://www.mcie.org/
  • 24. The Barefoot Autism Challenge: Exploring Neurodiversity Through Running Barefoot

    52:12
    About the Guest(s): Ken Posner is a passionate advocate for the therapeutic benefits of natural stimulation and mindfulness, particularly through the practice of going barefoot as part of the "Barefoot Autism Challenge." Although not a professional runner, Ken's fervor for barefoot running, stemming from the energy and joy it offers, has led him to adopt it as a lifestyle choice. With an awareness of neurodiversity and its intersections with physical activities, he champions the experience of going barefoot for both neurotypical and neurodiverse individuals, emphasizing the grounding and process-enhancing aspects it offers.Episode Summary: Ken Posner delves into the fascinating world of barefoot living and its unique connection to the autistic community. Ken shares the origins and experiences of the Barefoot Autism Challenge, a movement initiated by Tyler Leach that endeavors to provide sensory stimulation and support for individuals with autism.Discover how Ken's own journey into barefoot hiking and running led him to a deeper understanding of natural stimulation and its effect on processing environmental cues, a phenomenon highly valued among many within the neurodiverse population. The episode illustrates the diverse reactions people have towards going barefoot, ranging from intrigue to disconnect, and highlights the importance of breaking away from conformist behaviors and embracing individuality.Listeners will also be inspired by Ken's running experiences and his comparisons between the discipline of long-distance running and the progression towards more inclusive educational environments. Running is not just an individual sport for Ken, but a powerful metaphor for continuous improvement and the mindfulness required to tackle complex societal issues one step at a time.Transcript: https://otter.ai/u/DfGaq9XImw-9ztUevoR7TAIOMDYKey Takeaways:The Barefoot Autism Challenge is a movement that encourages natural stimulation and grounding for autistic individuals, who may process sensations differently from neurotypical people.Responses to going barefoot vary widely, shedding light on societal norms and the value of accepting non-conformist practices.Neurodivergence can offer unique perspectives that benefit society by challenging the status quo and reintroducing lost natural practices like going barefoot.The full mind-body engagement offered by running and being barefoot is a critical aspect of self-management, mindfulness, and achieving a sense of personal accomplishment.Running can serve as an allegory for tackling educational and organizational challenges, emphasizing the importance of taking things one step at a time and embracing the journey toward inclusivity.Resources:Barefoot Autism Challenge: https://www.facebook.com/BarefootAutismChallengeKen Posner: https://www.barefootken.com/MCIE: https://www.mcie.org/
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