Here at Inclusive Schooling, we believe inclusion is the foundation for all good things— including authentic and exciting STEM education.
So when I (Kate) got the chance to co-write with friend and educator, Jackie Giammarco, about Project Hawk-Eye— an innovative, student-driven STEM project in her inclusive district outside of Philadelphia— I jumped at the chance.
You can read our piece, STEM Empowerment Starts with Inclusion,here on ASCD’s website. It’s a quick and powerful story about inclusion, high expectations, and sheer student and educator ingenuity.
And, just for fun, below is a photograph of two high school students hard at work on Project Hawk-Eye.
(Image: two students are in a classroom, using a power drill. An educator observes their work.)
We’ve launched an Inclusion Podcast!! How cool is that? We’ll be talking all things inclusion, answering those difficult “how to” questions, and hosting fabulous guests including inclusive teachers, leaders, kids, parents and experts.
You can listen, download, and subscribe to the podcast right here. And once you’ve checked out our first 3 episodes— we want to hear from you! Leave us a review and share what questions you want answered and what content you want to hear about. And for a fun summer bonus, we’ll enter you in a drawing to win a book of your choosing from Julie’s awesome collection. The winner will be announced on June 30! Stay tuned and happy podcasting.
Welcome to May, everyone! Today we wanted to share a Skype conversation between Julie and Charmaine Miller Thaner of the Collaborative Special Education Advocacy. In this 42 minute conversation, Julie talks to Charmaine about how to best create inclusive schools. Click here or on the image below to watch it now.
We also encourage you to check out Charmaine’s site for more resources and videos about the process, practice and philosophy of inclusion. Comments or questions about the video or inclusion? Please be sure to leave a reply below!
This fall Julie was invited to North Penn School District in Southeastern Pennsylvania where she had the pleasure of presenting about inclusive schooling. During her time there she was able to meet with many incredible educators, parents, and administrators who are working hard to create more inclusive practices for the district’s 13,000 students.
Recently, North Penn’s director of special education and student services, Dr. Jenna Rufo, sent us the October Newsletter that she shared with the entire district. The newsletter highlights some of North Penn’s wonderful inclusive work, including a co-teaching team’s marriage vows, the on-going planning efforts of inclusive related service providers, and the beauty of new student friendships. With Dr. Rufo’s permission, we are excited to share the entire newsletter with you here!
As an administrator, educator, and/or parent working to create more inclusive schools, we know there is so much to gain by supporting and learning from each other. We hope that Dr. Rufo’s newsletter inspires you to think of new ways to highlight or encourage inclusive practices in your own school district. We encourage you to reach out to each other on our FaceBook site Inspire Inclusion, visit one another’s schools, or even register for our online fall course, The Inspired Educator: 21 Days to Happier & More Engaged Learners.
We are so impressed that you are doing this critical work and hope that you’ll choose to broaden your inclusive support network in a way that is meaningful to you. This work is built on collaboration and community, and together you are all working toward creating schools and communities that celebrate diversity and value each and every student. We believe there is nothing more important.
Y’all! Today we are so excited to announce the arrival of Julie’s new book, co-authored with Paula Kluth, “30 Days to the Co-Taught Classroom: How to Create an Amazing, Nearly Miraculous & Frankly Earth-Shattering Partnership in One Month or Less.”
So far school leaders are ordering the book to use alongside PD for their co-teachers, educators are gearing up to read it with their co-teachers to get a jumpstart on next year, and parents are gifting it to school teams who will be supporting their children.
But how ever you plan to use it, we hope it is helpful in promoting more inclusive, collaborative, and enjoyable classrooms!
Oh, and yes… Julie and Paula MIGHT have filmed a music video for the book…
It was a long day, fueled by coffee and pastries…
And of course, apple sweaters…
And yes! It was legitimate— a recording studio and everything!
We hope that you enjoy and use the book (and the video?) to help you co-teach fabulously and support inclusive classrooms and schools. And if you DO love it (which we hope you will!) feel free to send us a picture of you reading the book— bonus points if you are wearing an apple sweater.
We wish you a wonderful summer and nearly miraculous co-teaching in the year to come!
Today we are happy to share Julie’s one hour webinar, Engage Them All: 5 Steps for Creating More Inclusive Classrooms. We’d like to thank the folks over at Brookes Publishing for hosting this event and for granting us permission to share it with you all here.
In this webinar, Julie discusses the following 5 steps for creating more inclusive classrooms:
Get Clear About Inclusion;
Keep Students In;
Collaborate in New Ways;
Support All Academic Levels; and
Provide Humanistic Behavior Supports.
After watching, we’d love to hear how you are thinking about these steps and what they might mean for your classroom or your child’s classroom. Please leave your questions and ideas in the comments section of this blog post, or, email us at email@example.com!
Our article, The Boy on Red, was published in ASCD Express last week.
The Boy on Red is about the powerful impact of humanistic behavior supports (think: love, patience, and compassion) and the problems with public behavior charts in schools. We are grateful to ASCD for allowing us to share it with you here.
We also wanted to send a very special thank you to the wonderful parent and advocate, who not only inspired us to write the article, but graciously allowed us to share her son’s story. And finally, we wanted to send a thank you to you all, for the hard work you do everyday to support all students with love and respect.
—Kate & Julie
Fair and Effective Classroom Discipline
April 14, 2016 | Volume 11 | Issue 15 Table of Contents
Field Notes: The Boy on Red and the Problem with Public Behavior Charts
Julie Causton and Kate MacLeod
We home-schooled our son Milo after the red, yellow, and green cards became his new identity as a 2nd grader. He was known as “The Boy on Red” and he came home and cried in his closet every night, finally escalating to the point where he screamed, “I just deserve to die. I will always be red. I want to kill myself.” — Milo’s mother
Teachers have the wonderful opportunity to teach a range of diverse learners. This also likely means they must deal with a great range of behavior. To cope with this challenge, educators sometimes use management approaches such as point, sticker, token, or the popular traffic light systems pictured below.
When a student misbehaves, the teacher might tell the student to move the clothespin with his name from green to yellow, or yellow to red indicating to the student—and the rest of the class—that he is not behaving appropriately. Students then receive further consequences such as revocation of recess.
For many well-meaning educators, these systems are intended to reward students for a job well done (green) and to help students stop and think about their behavior (yellow) before it escalates to the point of real trouble (red). However, for students who often end up on red, these systems can have negative, unintended socialemotional consequences. Milo’s story above is heartbreaking but in our experience, not uncommon. We have found that student reaction to public behavior systems is nearly always shame, embarrassment, and disconnection from teachers. In fact, these systems increase challenging behavior from the students. Why? The following list highlights the major flaws in public behavior charts:
Students behave for a reason. Students behave to let us know that they are bored, frustrated, angry, hungry, depressed, or embarrassed. Simply moving a student’s name on a chart does not address the underlying cause of his behavior.
It is public. Having your name listed next to red indicates to everyone (teachers, volunteers, visitors, and other students) that you are bad. It creates shame, anxiety, and embarrassment. These feelings are not conducive to learning or positive social-emotional growth.
Students are not rewarded. Students on green often feel not rewarded, but superior. If public behavior charts are connected to rewards, it buys short-term compliance, but not the intended intrinsic motivation most teachers seek.
Students with disabilities are at greater risk for being penalized by these systems. Educators are more likely to see students with emotional behavioral disorders, autism, or other behavioral disability labels as misbehaving. The unintended message to the rest of the class is that these students are bad.
It creates lasting scars. In our opening example, Milo’s mom shares just how detrimental these public behavior systems can be for a child. Events like this at such a pivotal developmental stage can have a lifelong effect on self-esteem and academic success.
We have both been educators, we have both worked with students with extremely challenging behaviors, and we each now exclusively work with educators—often solving problems related to students with challenging behaviors. We know firsthand that teaching is difficult. In fact, teachers rate behavior as one of the most significant issues they face in schools. We think it is reasonable to want students to follow directions and stay on task to keep the classroom conducive to high levels of learning, especially in this era of accountability. So what might we suggest instead?
Humanistic Behavior Supports
We have several alternatives to the public behavior chart that, when practiced with kindness and compassion, can prove more effective. Using these types of supports can positively change a child’s school experience.
Examine the classroom, not the student. Instead of looking for what is wrong with the student, look for what is wrong with the environment. Ask yourself, how can we help this student connect to peers? How can you give her more freedom? How can we create a more joyful learning space? How can he feel more responsibility or ownership?
Be calm and quiet. How can you calm or support a student effectively without drawing undue attention? Can you write a note? Have a private conference? Whisper to her?
Ask the student. Ask what the student needs to be more successful. In this way, we avoid doing things to the student and instead work with the student to determine a solution together.
Increase engagement and fun. Many students are misbehaving because of the nature of a task. Does the complexity of the task match the student’s abilities? Can you make it more interesting or challenging? Can it be differentiated? Can you use videos, props, or humor?
Consider sensory needs. Consider your own sensory needs throughout the day. Do you need to dim the lights or stretch your legs to help you calm your mind or body? Students should have these same opportunities. Can you provide students with “fidgets”—small, silent objects with sensory appeal that students can hold in their hands and fidget with? Are there alternate options for seating (pillows, rugs, therapy balls)? Can you provide a physical change such as a dance break?
Sit together. Often when students act out, what they need is someone to hear them. Can you take five minutes to sit with her and let her talk and simply be present?
Be empathetic. Before reacting to the student, consider what it is you need when you feel out of control, bored, angry, upset, or confused. Do you talk with a trusted friend, take a walk, or cry? Providing empathetic, unwavering support for a child in need will communicate that the child belongs and is loved.
Start with love. You are a teacher because you are passionate about education and children. This child is someone’s son or daughter, someone’s sister, brother, or best friend. Imagine you deeply love this child—react to his behavior with patience, compassion, and acceptance.
When Milo re-entered school the following year, his mom spoke with the classroom teacher about using humanistic behavioral supports. His mom joyfully reports that Milo is now much happier and more self-assured. He has a positive and nurturing relationship with his teacher. He is no longer “the boy on red.” Let’s collectively make sure no one else ever is.
Julie Causton is a professor in the inclusive and special education program in the department of teaching and leadership at Syracuse University. Her published works have appeared in more than 30 journals, and she is the author of multiple books on inclusive education. A former elementary, middle, and high school special education teacher, Causton works with administrators, teachers, and paraprofessionals to help promote and improve inclusive practices. Kate MacLeod is a doctoral student in the special education and disability studies program at Syracuse University. She works alongside Causton to help districts and schools create inclusive special education practices, and she has served as an education consultant to families who wish to see their children included in general education settings. Before entering doctoral studies, MacLeod was a high school special education teacher in New York City.
We are so excited to share our new website www.inclusiveschooling.com and all our updated services, courses, and resources! Inspire Inclusion, Dr. Julie Causton’s original site, has helped us reach so many wonderful educators, parents and administrators and we are so grateful to have the opportunity to continue to grow and support folks interested in creating more inclusive schools and communities.
The new Inclusive Schooling site now offers more detailed information about our available services and supports, as well as an easier way to contact us with inquiries about our work. We’ve also expanded our selection of articles and books written by Dr. Causton, and her newest book, The Educator’s Handbook to Inclusive School Practices, is now available to purchase.
Most recently we’ve been hard at work creating an exciting on line experience, The Inspired Educator: 21 Days to Happier and More Engaged Learners. Opening day for this event begins April 15th and you can learn more about it right here.
Finally, we now have this blog in order to give you new content, resources and updates as often as possible. We also want to use this blog as a community space where you all can learn from and connect with each other. So we encourage you to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to inquire about sharing your own content, stories, videos and resources.
We are truly looking forward to sharing this new space with you all and are excited to give you brand new content on inclusive schooling, differentiated instruction, humanistic behavior supports, happier learners and teachers, and more. We hope this is the first of many visits you make to the new InclusiveSchooling.com.