Tag Archives: parents

My Baby Soapbox

img_online-early-childhood-education-degrees[1]I am having a hard time putting words to the thoughts I am having today. There are so many parts of the story I am about to tell that need addressing, and so much at stake in the message.

I was on the phone the other day with a friend of mine I have had all of my life. He and his wife have a beautiful baby boy, let’s call him Brian. Brian was born with disabilities, specifically, he has WAGR syndrome. It is something that very few people ever need to find out more about, as so few people are born with the specific genetic traits. WAGR contributes such a small part to this story that I am not going to spend my time focusing on that aspect.

Brian is a happy, quickly developing little man, who is making progress every day. He is full of smiles, laughter, and love for those around him, and a true pleasure to be with. All of the things we look for in children of this age, he is doing well at. Eating on his own, learning to get more of his lunch in his mouth than on the walls or floor, getting around from place to place of his own free will, interacting with people, expressing himself, exploring and becoming more independent and just generally being a two year old kid.

There are a couple things that he has been working on developing, that with physical and occupational therapy as well as some support for his visual impairment, he is making great gains, and using his skills across his environments consistently well. He seems to like putting things in his mouth quite a bit, but at this age, everybody’s doing it!! My guess is that it is one more way for him to experience his world, with his vision limited a bit more than most his age.

He is a part of a beautiful family and is surrounded by uncles, aunts, grandmas, grandpas and family friends. He lives in a lovely neighborhood, where he has made friends with other little people his age, and spends his days as any two year old does, at school while mom and dad go to work, and busy at play dates and being a beautifully integral part of his family and community the rest of the time.

Sounds great, right? Well…that is where I need to get on my baby soapbox today. Continue reading

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Stop Learning. Start Thinking. Start Creating. BE Your Field.

Those words are words that have been spoken by Jacob Barnett. Jacob is a young man who was labeled with Autism when he was two years old. He wasn’t supposed to talk, or even learn to tie his shoes. Now, he has been recognized world-wide for his work within the field of science, in particular within the field of astrophysics (and wears flip-flops). He is 14 now, teaching at a research university, working on his PhD, and in line to be rewarded a Nobel Prize someday. Watch this TedxTeen talk to get an idea of who this incredible young man is.

Jacob is also currently writing a book about how to make math more approachable for kids his age. Additionally he runs a non-profit that benefits kids who are on the autism spectrum by focusing on social skills and coaching them on thinking in their own unique ways. His mom has written a book titled The Spark: A Mother’s Story of Nurturing Genius. And more than that, he loves basketball and root beer floats.

Continue reading

PART THREE: A Detailed look at the Paraprofessional Job-Embedded Curriculum…the last, but NOT least!! AND, don’t forget….the GIVEAWAY!

Do yourself a favor and check out my previous posts that gave an overview and further details about this fabulous curriculum that you must have!! I have spent a lot of my blog time focused on this curriculum for a reason. It is the perfect time of the year to be thinking about paraprofessional training, and even more appropriate to think about how to do it in your own schools, with your own teams, engaging in conversation about your own students in a staff development format that is grounded in research and what we know about adult and student learning!

In this final post about the curriculum, I will describe the remaining two instructional parts and the units that comprise them. Please don’t forget to comment or ask questions, as you will be entered into the drawing to receive a free copy of the curriculum! All comments and questions from this post, as well as any from the first two posts will be entered for the drawing, and will be awarded next week!

The curriculum is divided into the following four instructional parts, with a total of seven instructional units:

Overview of the four instructional parts of the curriculum and the seven individual units

Overview of the four instructional parts of the curriculum and the seven individual units

The first two parts were described here. The parts that I would like to describe today are units three through seven. These five units are especially useful in schools for paraprofessional training. They comprise the instructional and academic areas, as well as promote understanding of behavior and relationships of the students they support. While the first two units concentrate on laying groundwork for paraprofessionals to understand their roles in inclusive settings, the five units I will describe today offer skill development and tools for paraprofessionals to use every day in their work with students. Continue reading

Listen to me talk about Inclusive IEPs on the Special Needs Talk Radio at 9 am EST, on November 4th!

Nicole Eredics' blog, The Inclusive Class

I am happy to announce that I will be speaking about inclusive IEPs on November 4th, at 9 am EST with Nicole Eredics from The Inclusive Class, on Special Needs Talk Radio. More details as to how you can tune in that day, or listen to the show after the recording will be available soon on the Special Needs Talk Radio website, and on my events page, so check back for that information.

After connecting with Nicole, a blogger, independent consultant, and seasoned general education teacher in inclusive classes, she has asked me to be on her show to talk about the many ways IEPs can be written to foster and support inclusive education. This is an exciting new radio show, to spread the word, share our practice, and continue the good work and energy around creating inclusive places for students with disabilities. She has many distinguished professionals in the field lined up to discuss an array of important topics, so please check out the schedule and see if there is something that you might find of interest or in support of the work you are doing to create inclusive schools. Continue reading

Commencement Night Reflections

My family after commencement ceremony

Despite my paperwork and degree being completed in the fall of this past year, there was only one commencement ceremony for the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Minnesota this spring. So, when I decided to walk in commencement last week, my thoughts were, as I already had my degrees framed and placed on the wall weeks ago – that I would do it only so my three young boys could see the end result of my late hours and hard work all the while raising them to be the young men that they are. It has all been so abstract for them.

I started my Masters program when I was pregnant with my first son; he is now 12 years old. I received my Masters in education around the time that I had my third son, and went on to pursue my doctorate. The culmination of all of this work happened in a real way last week, as I sat there with my colleagues, professors and friends waiting for my Ed.S. to be conferred. I imagined the night as something that would be exciting for the boys to see, as well as important for them to realize. A woman, not just any woman, but their mother, going through all of the pomp and circumstance in full regalia! I was so very right in thinking that it would be a good thing for them to be a part of – they are still congratulating me as I tuck them in for bed at night, and wearing my mortar board around the house during the day, all the while talking about what they want to do when they grow up. Continue reading

Towards a Working IEP: Part Two – The Student Centered Approach

Image from Including Samuel Documentary by Dan Habib

My last post talked about how to balance the playing field between the parents and the professionals at IEP meetings, so that the team can come to decisions together about students with disabilities and the supports and services they require to succeed in school settings.

As important as it is to have the balance as I described, the even more important piece of creating an IEP that is what I call a “working IEP”, is writing the paperwork that supports the whole person in way that is useful and positive. Continue reading

Towards a Working IEP: Part One – Balancing the Playing Field

A great deal of my consulting work has come about through parents of kids with disabilities inviting me to be a part of their son or daughter’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meetings. IEPs are the central paperwork portion of the special education services that students receive in schools, and are filled with loads of information that is used throughout a school year to meet the needs of kids with disabilities.

It has been my experience that IEPs can be beautifully written and executed. I have also experienced IEPs that are basically useless paperwork that follows a child through their school years without much meaning. The intent is for it to be the former, but that is, unfortunately in many cases, not how they are written or used. Continue reading