GATE Equity Webinar 101: Implementing & Sustaining Inclusionary Practices


Welcome officially to the March GATE Equity webinar, where we explore topics relating to graduation equity. I’m Kefi Andersen,
OSPI Graduation Equity Specialist, and today’s topic is Implementing and
Sustaining Inclusive Practices. So we have some great webinar stuff going on
today; and we’re going to talk about that. At OSPI, our vision is that all
students are prepared for post-secondary pathways, careers, and civic engagement. And, GATE Equity webinar lives through the equity statement. We believe that each
student, family, and community possesses strengths and cultural knowledge that
benefits their peers, educators, and schools. And we try to delve deeper into
those topics so that we can look at systemic barriers, replacing them with
policies and practices that ensure all students have access to the instruction
and support that they need to succeed in our schools, and today’s topic is
particularly relevant to that. This webinar is brought to you through the
Office of System and School improvement, and we have an amazing YouTube channel. So we’re trying to get to 1,000 subscribers; and we would love if you
subscribe to our Channel. 250 more subscribers, we can hit a thousand;
because there’s all these amazing community features that are gonna allow
us to bring you even better content where we have more video and all these
really neat features; so hopefully you can subscribe today. At the Office of System and School Improvement, we have a professional learning theme calendar each month. We
try to bring you some resources around each one of our themes. This month in March is Inclusionary Practices. This afternoon, we’re also gonna continue
the conversation at 3 o’clock. We have Paula Kitzke with us all day
today; we’re so lucky. And, we’re implementing and sustaining
inclusionary practices with master scheduling, so if you wanna learn more
about how this looks in a master schedule, that’s this afternoon; and we
really do hope you can join us for that as well. Next month we’re going to be
looking at High School and Beyond Plans: Increasing Engagement with High School
and Beyond Planning. We have a really neat group of people to talk about how
they’re doing this in alternative learning settings. We also have R.A. Long High School on hand with IEP transition plans. Those are
coming up as well. We have a sister webinar series, the MTSS PLC webinar
series. And next month in April, we have Rhonda Nese; and she’s going to be
talking about providing alternatives to exclusion. These webinars are from
really nationally recognized experts on MTSS, multi-tiered systems of support, and
we really hope that you can make it to that as well. For today, our objectives
are to understand systems-level approach for implementing & sustaining inclusionary
practices. We want you to learn from a school and a district, how they are
implementing these supports, and get resources to help you get started.
So who are we? My name is Kefi Andersen again,and I’m joined by Paula Kitzke, she’s a Program Review Supervisor in Special Education at OSPI. We also have
Nick French, Director of Teaching and Learning Special Services and he’s from
Ocosta School District, as well as Christina Reeves and Lacey Griffiths and
Karen Abel from R.A. Long. Welcome everybody, we’re so glad that you are
spending them with us today and are able to share your expertise with us. Paula,
would you like to talk a little bit about why we should focus on
implementing and sustaining inclusionary practices? Sure would, it’s because it’s
the right thing to do. That is the nutshell version of
that question, and, when we talk about students and learning, when we talk about
students with disabilities, we talk about all students, not just a sub population
or a subgroup of students. We know that there have been a number of initiatives
from OSPI around students of, students who are EL, students of poverty, and
students with disabilities; and so when we look at practices, we really want to
make sure that we’re talking about all students, because we know that students
who are included do better academically and behaviorally as well as socially. And
with that, we’re going to begin. During today’s webinar, we’re going to focus on
implementing and sustaining inclusionary practices, and when we do so, we’re going
to take a look at some of the data that are driving
the discussions about inclusion, and also review systems that support inclusive
practices. As you participate you’ll be able to identify resources that will
support your work and also affirm your strengths of practices. Inclusion is the
belief that all students have a right to meaningfully participate in general
education, both academically and socially. Students do not earn inclusion, or
students do not need to fit in. They don’t get ready to go to the general ed
classroom. We really should all be working from the least dangerous
assumption: the starting point of every child’s educational need is the general
education classroom. If you hold to the belief of inclusion, you honor the adage
of presumed competence. Research is clear – inclusion benefits all students, not just
students with disabilities. Let’s take a few minutes to look at the recent
historical perspective of inclusionary practices in Washington. Why do we as a
state and as school personnel need to think differently about how we serve
students with disabilities? OSPI has set these priorities to support the outcomes
of students with disabilities: leadership, growth mindset, evidence-based practices,
professional development, resource allocation, and recruitment and retention.
With these priorities in mind, let’s take a mini assessment. How do you support
students with disabilities as a school community through effective leadership?
What expectations do staff have for the performance of students with
disabilities? Do you have a multi-tiered system of supports in place? How does the school or district ensure joint training for administrators,
instructional staff, and families? How are resources being realigned to include human capital and materials? And lastly, are your school leaders and teachers
prepared to support instruction for students with disabilities? Where does
all this information lead us? There’s been some great news for the
implementation of inclusionary practices in the state of Washington. We are
getting help to identify both the work and to get it done.
From the 2019 legislative session came the Inclusionary Practices Professional
Development Project. The legislature awarded 25 million dollars to OSPI for
an initiative to implement and support inclusionary practices with an emphasis
on coaching and mentoring for public schoolteachers. Iformation on the
Inclusionary Professional Practice Project may be found on the OSPI website.
A link to the project is seen on this slide. Now let’s take a closer look at
the outcome data; and when we do, keep in mind encouragement for you to locate the
data for your school or district. The class of 2019 had a graduation rate of
62% for students with disabilities. 41% of ninth grade students are not on track to graduate. Why not? 32% of students with disabilities who did graduate from high
school are not engaged in post-secondary education, training, or employment. What
are those kids doing? Another startling data point is – Washington State is in the
lowest quintile. It’s ranked 44th for inclusion nationwide, with 58% of
students with disabilities included in general education settings for 80 to 100
percent of the school day. That figure drops to 49% for students of color. It’s
sobering data isn’t it? Certainly this data bolsters a sense
of urgency to come into a culture of equity through implementation of
inclusionary practices. Research consistently supports a positive link
between access to general education settings and improved outcomes for all
students. Which of these systems level supports are in your toolbox?
Restructured best practices? Do you have visionary leadership? Have you redefined
roles? Are you on board with collaboration? And have you responded to
diversity? Best practices to facilitate inclusion are identical to best
practices for educating all students. If your school has restructured to meet the
diversity of its population through initiatives such as RTI and MTSS, inclusionary practices will readily align to those initiatives. Inclusion is not an add-on.
It’s a natural extension of practices. We know that changing the culture and
educational practices is complex. The extent as to how much will be
accomplished at a school is really dependent on the school’s leader.
Principals demonstrate visionary leadership when they begin conversations
by presenting current school data to conform or confirm or support a need for
school change. How can your school leaders prepare for the changes required
to create inclusive school environments? A few more questions. Are you having to
shift actions from delivering instruction from a my-student versus
your-student model to one of shared collaboration and responsibility? Have
you heard rumors of the misperception that special education teachers will no
longer be needed as general education teachers become the be-all-end-all?
Schools who provide ongoing training opportunities such as coursework,
professional support groups, and services in coaching, mentoring, collaboration, to
assist educators transitioning an all inclusive role. Really there’s no magic
to the work. It’s clear no single individual possesses the knowledge and
skill to support the need of all students in the classroom. Teachers,
special ed personnel and families must develop collaborative skills to create
and support diversified learning opportunities for students with wide
ranges of skills, interests, and needs. It’s really interesting to note that
collaboration emerged as the only variable that predicted positive
attitudes toward inclusion among general and special educators as well as
administrators. Have you considered including transdisciplinary teaming,
block scheduling, multi-age student grouping and looping, school-wide
positive behavior supports and discipline approaches, and school within
a family configurations for students and teachers? Let’s shift now to some big
ideas. Inclusion for all is hard work. It doesn’t happen overnight, or because we
have a memo announcing a change effective on some future Monday. The
outcome data told us the story about the need for urgency. Low
graduation rates, kids not engaged post-secondary, and kids out of the
general education setting. The systems level supports list provided tools for
reflection and action. Let’s wrap up our discussion by talking about some tough
stuff. The equity imperative and barriers to equity. School leaders are charged
with dismantling systems that marginalize students. Principals’
attitudes can either promote or discourage inclusion practices in their
schools; and principals’ understandings of inclusion and how to arrange school
systems in ways that promote inclusive efforts, is really critical.
Does your professional development support opportunities to self-assess
knowledge and skills for implementing inclusionary practices? Does it provide
for collaborative exploration of resources to support your work? Some
questions around barriers to inclusive practices to consider are: in your
practice, what perpetuates low expectations for students with
disabilities? We know that less than 4% of students with disabilities
have identified cognitive disabilities. Less than 4%. At your school or
district, how is it determined that students with disabilities cannot learn
in the general education classroom? Who is making those decisions? Please remember presumed competency. When students are removed to attend resource
or participate in other settings at your school, are they missing core instruction?
Is master scheduling the root cause of missed or interrupted education at your
school or district? And, might disproportionate discipline be adding to
lower outcomes for students with disabilities? High leverage supports may be universal, targeted, and personalized. Which of these do you have in place?
Which are your strengths? Which need nurturing? UDL provides a blueprint for
creating instructional goals, methods, materials, and assessments that work for
everyone. Not a single one-size-fits-all solution,
but rather flexible approaches that can be customized and adjusted for
individual needs. MTSS takes a proactive approach to identifying students with
academic or behavioral needs. An early
assessment and intervention for these students can help them catch up with
their peers. Targeted professional development includes opportunities for
shared leadership development, and it also supports both the strengths and the
needs of the educators. Positive school climate is the leading indicator for
such outcomes as increased academic achievement, increased teacher retention,
and reduced discipline referrals. And with closing the gap, tools and vehicles
such as curriculum, training and technology, are system supports that make
classrooms more accessible and close resources systems for supports. You may
be wondering who’s involved in the Inclusionary Practices Project and what
resources are available to your project participants? This is what I call a
pretty exciting slide. In rows 1 through 5, you will note the many partners
working collaboratively on this initiative. The lead for the
project is the Center for Strengthening the Teaching Profession, a nonprofit
group that has worked with OSPI for over 15 years on various initiatives. Of particular interest to point out is the inclusionary demonstration site noted in
Row 3. Interested folks may access demonstration sites to see best
practices of inclusion, and also meet with staff who make it all work. Again,
for detailed information please consult the IPP website; that would be the
Inclusionary Practices Project website on the OSPI website. Providing advice to
schools along the noted suggestions for leaders, educators, and partners,
completion of the LRE self-assessment tool will provide guidance on
accountability measures that reflect high expectations for all students.
Remember presumed competency. The LRE assessment tool may be found on the Inclusionary Practices Project webpage. The assessment is completed by school
teams to include administrators, teachers, support personnel, and related service
staff. Thank you for your work as you support students with disabilities.
Thanks Paula. Next up we have with us R.A. Long, and R.A. Long, we have Lacey with us. Lacey can you tell us a little bit about what’s going on in R.A. Long and how you
are doing that? We did have a couple of questions from the audience.
Do you want to talk a little bit Paula while they get set up? What is “trans-
collaboration?” I;t would be collaboration among different groups, so leaders, different grade levels, you know, grade levels of teachers. It could be across departments with teachers it could be collaboration that
includes families, it could be collaboration that includes school
personnel and interagency personnel, so it’s just, it’s a matter of collaborating
amongst those members who have a particular interest for either a student
or an initiative. Awesome, thank you. And we had another question from the audience. Can you state what UDL and MTSS stand for? UDL is Universal Design for Learning and MTSS is multi-tiered systems of support; so with UDL you would be providing
curriculum and instruction that is delivered with individuals in mind;
and so you differentiate instruction. It’s universally designed
instruction. MTSS are multi-tiered systems of support so that all students
receive necessary interventions. It usually begins with all school, all
students being screened which we call a Tier 1, to see where kids are
performing. Tier 2 interventions might be students who need some support – could be in core instruction, it could be in behavioral or social skills – but it would
be not all interventions that would not apply to all students, and nor would
necessarily be the significant interventions for long periods of time.
And then Tier 3 interventions are typically for students who have been
identified as needing more intensive supports. Oftentimes students with
disabilities will fall into Tier 3, and it’s always good to note that
students may fluctuate between Tier 1, Tier 2, and Tier 3 supports. Also, we
had another question. The question was, so where do the AESPE inclusionary
practices pilots fall into slide 26? Are you familiar with those? That would be in
number 4 of slide 26, Inclusion in Practice Pilot sites. So on the website,
and in spring there’ll be demonstration sites are going to be ready to launch,
and so those sites would be listed, and what’s on the website itself. Thanks
Paula. Lacey, would you like to tell us a little bit about what’s going on at
R.A. Long? (High School) Sure, absolutely, good morning. My name is Lacy Griffiths, I’m Assistant Principal here at R.A.Long, and I also oversee the
special education. We are going to talk a lot about special education, but just
know that these inclusionary practices are all-encompassing with our EL kiddos
and so on. We are in Longview, Washington – so along the i-5 corridor about an hour
north of Portland, about 855 kiddos. And we have in the
last couple of years, the last ten years or so,
about a 60% grad rate to over 95%, and we’ll talk a lot about
how we got there. But a lot of this has to do with our inclusionary practices as
well. We’ve been a sight of distinction here
for the last four or five years, and then the reason we ended up here on our OSPI
webinar was because we recently had a special education audit, and had a 95% on
that audit; which, people were impressed with the inclusionary practices and the
mindset in general. Why it was that we started looking at the inclusionary
practices in general. We looked at, when I got here eight years ago, we had a
self-contained Be Deep program, we had a self-contained life skills program, and
in October of that first year, well, there was some switches. We did some room
switches. We did some programming switches; because at first it was more
observational and anecdotal data as far as student behaviors, and when we put
kiddos all together that exhibits the same behaviors, without that peer
modeling, we didn’t see great outcomes. So we disbanded those my first year in
October. We also looked at their graduation rates. On the dropout rate
some of our kiddos, it was less than perfect. Everyone’s affected in this
journey from the gen ed teachers to our paras, to the administration obviously,
just the entire mindset needs to switch. And really, inclusion is a mindset. It’s
not a program. All of our teachers have to shift their mindset to that. These are
all of our kids. They’re not special education kids or EL kids, but they’re gen ed kids that need additional supports. We have really taken on that mindset and
fostered that mindset through the professional development and continued
supports. At this point, we don’t have a single self-contained student at R.A. Long High School, and with the streamlining practices, we push our paras
out into the gen ed classes to support. We do have some strategic level classes
for kids in their goal areas, so in reading and writing, behavior, and in math;
but those are just one period a day that they would access those classes. So as
far as strategies for the school-wide inclusion, really we took our paras first and foremost and they get a great amount of training. We
have a weekly para PLC, where we all are talking about, whether it’s behaviors or
academics, what things are missing in general, if a teacher is not supporting
the accommodations or modifications on their IEPs, how are we going to approach
that? We run a D and F list every single week that is given to the paras, and then when
we go into our Wednesday PLC, we’re talking about strategies for our Friday
advisory on who’s going to pull which kid. And then we look at those paras
that are out in the gen ed classes that know the content, they know the
assignments; so it’s all of a sudden if people drop a bunch of, dropped grades in
biology, they know what lab they missed. So on Fridays, they’re able to pull those
kiddos and make up that lab. They also receive all of the staff training that
our teachers do as well; and we run that through the PLC as well. Staff PD is one
of the most important big picture pieces. We, at the beginning of the year, have
special education training that understands the difference between
accommodations and modifications, and the processes, and how to communicate with
the special education staff, how to use paras. We want to make sure that we’re
providing the staff with all of the information that they need for each
kiddo in order for them to support them in the classes. And then just the common
language and strategies. We are also a school-wide sight of distinction for
AVID, and so we use AVID strategy school-wide, including our life skills
classes; and that’s really assisted with our ability to include, because in our
life skills classes they’re using interactive notebooks and C-notes and
so on, so when they’re in a gen ed class those aren’t new strategies they have to
learn on top of the content. And really going back to and I’ll continue to go
back to that mindset, is absolutely imperative that we have people on the
bus that have the same like mindset, and then we can we can all move together and
support one another. This is, each case manager breaks down the information. This Google Doc is fluid and our staff has access to this, so it is, I cut off the
names obviously on the left hand side, but it’s a quick visual of ‘here’s which
kids get which accommodations and modifications.’
It also has things that are unique to that student, then some testing pieces,
goal areas, the disability category, and then who their case manager is, and then
what their transition plan is, so everyone has the same information, and
we’re all working. It’s a quick run-through for teachers if they need to
know who has copies of notes or extended times or so on and so forth.
At the beginning of the year, this is a brochure. So it’s a couple pages here, but
when we’re training staff every year about reminding them what an
accommodation is, I’ll flip back and forth here what an accommodation versus
a modification, how to use paras, what is a para role, what is the teacher role? So we
make sure that everyone is clear on that. What to expect from your specialized
case managers and from our team, and then what’s expected from the teachers? And
then just making sure they remember that they’re on IEP at a glance is attached
to skyward, so if people aren’t doing that, that’s really helpful. And then that
they are looking at the Google Doc and make sure they know what all their
accommodations and modifications are. And then the ever long list of acronyms –
making sure that everybody’s on the same page with those, and that we’re always
looking at least restrictive environment and what is that appropriate
placement? So I am going to introduce you to Mrs. Cristina Reeves. She’s a gen ed
social studies teacher, and she has everywhere from life skills kiddos all
the way through; so she gets a majority of our kids that are
mainstreamed in the gen ed for social studies. Hello, I’ve been teaching for 27
years. So this is my 7th year at R.A. Long, and as Lacey said, I teach U.S. History. I’m also an AVID elective teacher and I also have a graduation class, and I
previously was at the middle school for 6th and 7th grade. And so inclusion
in my classroom over the years, it looks and sounds the same. The expectations are the same for all individuals, so when I’m talking about all those students being
able to meet the expectations in different ways, it’s both academics and
behaviors. There has to be consistent structures in place from the beginning
for students. They, even from the seating charts and then setting up that culture
of learning for everyone, and that support piece that they feel amongst
each other. They have to have kind of the repetition of those structures and
specific strategies, so if you’re looking at that repetition in writing, they have
to be able to see sentence frames to know that they can have that learning
being done. For reading, you have to have vocabulary activities and marking the
text. They have to have collaboration pieces, so that they are supported by
their peers and each other so there’s clarity, so they can turn and talk to
each other and be able to know that they are on the right track with their
thinking. And you also have to have an organizational piece, whether that is as
Lacey said, we have IMD’s and keeping it very structured for them, sometimes even
‘this is where I need you to tape this into.’ So that way they know that they’re
doing the success piece as much as possible for themselves as well as for
their learning. When I’m preparing for class, it’s crucial to include all
students that we’re thinking about. So you have to think of, do I need to get a
copy of notes for them? Do I need to have this be a fill in notes because it is so
content heavy? The other thing is the examples. I will
always do something that is an example with them, and then we’ll do
something as a group, and then they’ll collaborate with each other for
understanding, and then be able to go on with their own self. So that’s that
collaboration piece that shows their learning as well. You also have to have
some oral responses from students through their questioning. So you have to
get that help. They may just be stuck, but if you ask them specific questions and
they’re generating their ideas as they move through the content that they’re
receiving. I do 10 minute checks for understanding, so it might be with their
neighbor out loud, or even the big piece is having students move around the
classroom so that they can get a give one, get one strategy. The idea of being
able to feel positive about what they’re sharing and if necessary, then we’re
going to those shortening assignments. You may have a post-it that you put on
their desk next to them that says, “These are the three things that I want
you to do,” so kids know that, okay I can do this, and feel comfortable with that.
And also modifying grades – at our school, administration and special education
staff have done an amazing job at helping us in so many ways. We have wonderful
paras within the classroom. They know that in our greatest need in our core
classes, and being able to have them instruct students in the right direction,
or them asking questions to help the student move along as well. The online IEPs and the spreadsheets that we get as soon as possible in the beginning of the
year, just like I said, that beginning of the year piece where you know students,
so you can set them up for success. The frequent communication of how students
are doing in a specific day, or “Hey, I just saw this,” to their case managers so
that we’re in constant communication. So if they’re going to
another class, there’s a heads up that something has happened. And then ideas
that work best for the students amongst teachers, so I may have somebody for
social studies and they may, someone else may have them for science, and we
collaborate. “Well this worked best with me for them,” and then trying that so that
they’re successful. So the biggest thing we have to make sure is making sure that
the expectations are for all so that we create that culture of
learning for them all. Next you’re going to hear from Karen Abel; she’s one of our
special education paras. Hi, I’m Karen Abel. I’m a special ed para here at R.A. Long High School. I worked at the middle school next door for about twenty years
and I’ve been here at R.A. Long for six. I typically have five to eight IEP
students at each class in my six period day in regular ed classrooms. Our
students do the same assignment in class as general ed students. As paras we make
copies of notes for them to write on, to tape into the notebooks as accommodation, to help the students with processing delays to be able to keep up with the
class assignments and not fall behind. Meeting their IEP we shortened large
assignments to accommodate. Some paras drop in to more than one classroom a
period and check on students. I make copies earlier in the day of assignments and I leave them for students that are in a classroom without a para. I converse with
general ed teachers about assignments we’re doing or upcoming, and make them
fit for our students. As paras, we keep copies of IEPs at a glance and the
students goals in our binders to know the students and their needs.
Every Wednesday during our PLC time for an hour in the afternoon, all paras meet
with Miss Griffiths to discuss IEP students. She sends us an
F list weekly of students that are failing classes and we talk about how to
help them. and discuss any concerns. On Fridays we pull some of these students
to the cafeteria during advisory and work with them to get caught up. If need
be, we also pulled them in Wednesday afternoons on early release days. We hold
the IEP students as accountable as general ed students and they are held to
the same standard. We are in contact with special ed teachers. I email, text or talk
to case managers about concerns, behaviors, or missing assignments on a
regular basis, because they’re not always able to see students on their caseloads; so our job is to keep them informed on what is going on in the classroom with
their students. I try to go to IEP meetings to help input because we
spend so much time with our students, and we sometimes have insight the teachers
don’t have. I feel very appreciated and supported here at R.A. Long from administrators and staff as we work with students. Thank you. So there are some key strategies and interventions then, and some of these will be repetitive from
what you’ve heard before. But as far as the systems of information flow that
you’ve heard from both para and the teacher is vitally important to the
success of kiddos with a full inclusion model. We can’t do this in isolation; we
always have to know where they are, which is why the weekly grading list. We do run
a weekly D and F list for EL kiddos as well, and as well as our gen pop, but and then
the Google surveys. We send the Google surveys out to the gen ed teachers by
goal area, so we’re getting really specific feedback on where they are in
comparison to their peers. And then we have a weekly student support team
meeting. Teachers bring up names or counselors bring up names, and it’s a
wraparound group of our mental health specialists, our counselors, our
administration, our SRO, everyone’s in the room. Our school psychologist, we have
everyone in the room to really be able to wrap around and make sure that even
outside the classroom, they’re getting the supports they need as well,, whether
it’s food – we have our own pantry. Whether it’s clothing, we have a clothes closet.
Or just removing those barriers. They may need to do their laundry here or do
their showering here, so just make sure we’re removing the barriers and the
excuses for them to be able to succeed. Support – we have to believe in the
students until they believe in themselves; and we tell the kids all the
time it’s not a matter of whether you can or can’t, it’s you will. And we
put those supports in place whether it’s sentence frames, consistent strategies
across all content, but making sure that we continue to believe in their progress
and believe in what they can do. So really it’s an asset mindset, not a
deficit mindset. So we’re always looking at what is that they can do and building
upon that instead of dwelling on their deficit; which they are very aware of
their deficits of their entire lives in education. We truly believe that there’s
not an opportunity gap but an expectation
gap, and we hold our kids to high standards because of that. We have to
have those expectations and a lot of times our kids that come in with
behavior goals from the elementary and the middle, we write those behavior goals
out by their sophomore year. Because we are so consistent in our expectations
and the consequences that come with that expectation, it’s safe in that supportive
environment where they can thrive. AVID is one of our key strategies and
interventions and supports all in one. Having consistent vocabulary from every
classroom really is a safe and supportive environment for those kids,
because they’re not trying to figure out four years of six different teachers’
expectations. They’re going to see interactive notebooks in every content
area, and our paras also keep interactive notebooks so that they can
compare and keep them caught up. The vocabulary is very similar and we see
that as a huge asset for our kiddos as they move through the system. As stated,
our weekly para PLC, our weekly advisory is utilized right now. We also have a
summer work program, which I know Clark County and Cowlitz County both have a
workforce program, so if you’re in one of those counties and there are limited
spots, but they’re amazing to work with. And during Friday advisory time our
kiddos that are going to go to work this summer through the work program also
have time to meet with that coach. We have transition services for all of our
kiddos on IEPs, and now we’re expanding that into 504. We have a curriculum
called Up Net and they go through how to keep a job, does some job exploration
type things; but then they go out to work sites and we have a transition para that
has time to to make those community relationships and build those and bridge
the outside to the school, so that we can really get our kids out into the work
place where we can coach them. Our supports for students with disabilities –
the universal ones as stated, and I’ll keep coming back to it, our AVID
strategies. The professional development that we do monthly, we do, everything that
we do really is all-inclusive. It is strategies that all of our kids can
access. And we have Jack’s house, which is our new Student Center, so any kiddo that
walks into our school, they’re also getting the same training as everyone
else. So they go through strategy training and behavior training, and
safety training and everything else, so we don’t throw them out into the gen pop.
We also, if they have an IEP, we really look at what are their goal areas? What’s
going to be best fit in the classes? And do they need a para support in
classes? We can make sure, we individually schedule them. If they’re
coming in and they speak a language other than English, we pair them up with
other students that speak that language so that they can feel that connection
right away. We also at the end of junior year, we have what’s called R.A. Long University – so every junior does their common app. They write their college
entrance essay, they do FAFSA planning, and financial planning, and they fill out
a scholarship. So we have seen our kiddos that have had IEPs through school go
off to college and do really, really well. We make those connections with the
disability coordinator from the college, and we actually take our seniors over to
LCC in the spring and introduce them to the disability coordinator over there;
and they look at what their class options and programming options are. So
that’s for everyone, all juniors. Jack Academy we implemented this year, it’s a
behavior and academic intervention. So if a kiddo, because you know sometimes the
gen ed classes can be overwhelming to them especially if they’re struggling
and in different areas. Our goal always is to keep kids in class, but sometimes
they need a five-minute you know, I’m going to walk down, I’m going to debrief
a situation, and then we get right back to class. The behavior one is not, it’s not
utilized all that much, because kids really do want to conform and be
with their gen ed peers. But if they miss a day and they need a quiet place to go work
and take a test, or if they need a scribe or they need it read aloud to them, they
can, the paras can take them down there to do that as well. Targeted, we have our
advisory program on Fridays. Next week on the 19th, we have our transition fair and we invite our incoming 9th graders through our
outgoing 12th graders and their families as well as community agencies that can
support them beyond high school. So we do have some disability coordinators from
different colleges, but we also have Life Works and DVR and River City Transit,
anything that we, any agencies that we think our kids would benefit from
connecting with. And so they come in and they can actually sit with the families
and do paperwork that night. The team teaching approach, there are some team
taught classes – mostly math in the building – and that pairs a special ed
teacher with a gen ed teacher just to give that additional support. Copies of
materials like both Christina and Karen talked about, and really those are,
anybody can access those if they really need them. So, and making sure we’re
looking always at their accommodations and modifications. The personalized
supports really come in with transition and making sure that if kids are college
bound or work bound, or wherever they need to be beyond here, we’re preparing
them for that. So we spend a lot of time on the basic community living piece of
making sure hygiene is in check. They can’t go out to a work site without slacks
on, nice shoes, and their internship shirt, which they learn how to iron.
They are learn how to do their own laundry and then they do shower here if
needed. So making sure that it’s not just the academic pieces, but we’re looking at
the big picture on how to be successful. Later on we spend a lot of time on
master scheduling as well, and I know someone had mentioned that previously,
but it is vitally important that our kids are able to access all of the
classes they need for graduation as well as their passion classes; and we want to
make sure that we have those accessible to them. As well as kids that
need team-taught classes, are in a class with a para, and having that para
support – so master schedule, we spend a lot of time looking at. Hot passes – if
kiddos have some behavioral issues or high anxiety, they have a Hot Pass, where they can just flash it to their teacher and get up
and go. And we have a place that they go whether it’s their counselor, whether
it’s to Academy, whether it’s to our school psych, whether it’s to their case
manager; they have, they know their intended place. And to make sure that
they’re accounted for, but they can go down and process the situation and then
return to class. For our students with behavioral goals, we do have a
decision-making class, actually we have two decision-making classes. One that is
around behavior; they do ART, the anger replacement training that a lot of
kids that go through juvenile look at, and then our decision-making. Our other
one is for more of kiddos with autism that just struggle with the social
decision-making and the friendship pieces. We have academic skill building
classes that gives them a true understanding of what their IEPs mean and
say and what their accommodations are, and then gives them some time to catch
up on some work. Our process for building this system is that customization piece
for our building. It has to work for your building and the culture and the climate
that you set; so I don’t think there’s a one size fits all kind of approach to
this, but we have to customize it for your building and for the mindset that
comes with that. I truly believe that you have to hire the right people that have
the same mindset. We’ve turned over, at the beginning when Mrs. Reeves took over
11 years ago, we turned over quite a few staff to retirement, and then as we’ve
been able to hire, you just want people that have the same mindset and are on
the bus with you. And now it’s very stable. We don’t have people leaving; whether you know, our para group is very stable and our teaching staff is stable
as well. So the customizations come with the classes, the support. They have to be
fluid in order to truly support our students, which means the master schedule may look different every year in order to accommodate the kiddos that come and the needs that come in. And so every single year, we’re running different
classes based on what our kiddos need. And the question was posed, how do
you know the work will continue after you leave your building? Really if you
have the right people and you have that mindset in place, the hope is that it’s
embedded and it’s not personnel dependent. We’ve talked a lot about how
it is that you get teacher buy-in. I think going back to it, the hiring is the
most important piece. You have to hire people to come into your building and be
very transparent with the work that needs to be done. You have to be
transparent that we are an inclusion school; that we are an AVID school, that
we are non-negotiables with some of the behaviors. So I think if that is one of
the biggest benefits for us, is that we’ve been able to hire people with like
mindset and are willing to put in the hard work targeted PD. It is so important
that we support our staff as a whole, whether it’s our secretaries, whether
it’s our cafeteria workers, whether our teachers, our bus drivers; having people
understand the needs and how to build relationships with the kiddos. We always
say that you can teach curriculum but it’s more difficult to teach somebody
that relationship skill; and we are a 100% about the relationships
here and making sure we know every kid by name and need. Encouraging risk-taking – our, as an AVID Site of Distinction, we do get a lot of visitors through; and so
our staff is so willing to take risks and doors are open, and they’re going
through and they do peer observations. And having that 100% AVID-trained staff, they’re able to share strategies with one another, and ‘this
worked,’ and ‘this didn’t work at all,’ and really being able to have those
conversations in their weekly PLC’s and to take those risks and try anything.
We’re benefitted because we have 100% AVID trained staff, whether that’s at Summer
Institute or pathway training, so everyone’s on the same page. And those
strategies are beneficial for all kids. We use academic language strategies.
We’re using culturally relevant teaching strategies. We just had a big training on
Friday where we had a culturally relevant teacher come up from San Diego; and having everyone on that same page is the way you move
people forward; and the way you get buy-in, because they know they’re
not alone in this. Make sure that their mindset is they are Gen Ed kids first. Always, we always say, ‘gentle pressure, relentlessly applied.’ And just hiring
style, continuing that quest for greatness.
What an awesome example of what’s going on at a school with inclusionary
practices. We’ve got Nick French from Ocosta and Nick is gonna tell us a
little bit about what this looks like from an administrator point of view and
how this work can be supported at a district level. I’m Nick French. My district, I’m down in Ocosta, which is out in Westport on the coast. The picture you see there, is the, we’re the school district that built the tsunami tower. My experience has been a
para all the way through teaching and learning director, you can see that there.
All that says is that I’ve been around a while. So what started me looking at inclusionary practices – as a
teacher, I didn’t have the curriculum. I wasn’t provided curriculum. And as a
middle school low- incident caseload and a middle school, so my kiddos were down
syndrome, IQs below seventy, but were in their neighborhood school because they
had high adaptive skills. And so science is what started my quest for inclusion,
because no one would give me curriculum. Started working with teachers, got them in
the classes, saw the power of peer mentors, peer models for all kids, and
sort of grew from there out of necessity; but then as an administrator, I transitioned
that same middle school to an inclusive school, because of the needs for student
achievement and access to the content standard experts. And then I’ve also done
that in my time in Bellevue. I transitioned a couple elementary schools,
started to work on a high school and in Monroe, we transitioned the whole entire school
district to an inclusive school system. How did others respond? We’ll get into
that a little bit more, but as a teacher it was pretty straightforward and easy;
because as a teacher, coming to a teacher that was a real, often he picked where it
worked, because it’s relationship and so, having good relationships with teachers just made that a lot easier. As an administrator, lots of fear and angst, and
my process, I developed a process sort of to help support that fear and angst
about the concept of inclusion through processes and technical changes. But
overall it’s been exciting. In all my areas, people love to do right for kids.
But they don’t know how and the fear of failure, it surfaces; so it’s always something to be mindful of. What are the root causes of the
fear? In my mind, it’s biases, which fear and misconceptions. So biases, that I think we all have them. We all, they’re whatever ingrained in us by
institutions such as government, religion, then you have your own family unit
biases, and then your community biases. And so what I found over the years is
that the bias emerges because they’ve never had the structural opportunity to
reflect on those biases and the conversation of inclusion really brings
those to the surface. The misconceptions that you see on the right, inherent
biases that people have, and then the fear of the unknown. Can I teach it? Am I
good enough for this? The fear isn’t isn’t around the students.
Typically it’s it’s a fear around the the staff feeling able to do, what’s they
might be asked to do, but because they have misconceptions that’s often not
truly aligned to what it’ll look like. But those are some of the root causes
I’ve experienced in my work over the years. What are some of the themes that
I’ve noticed? It’s emotional. Back to the biases – the reason it’s emotional is
because people knowingly or unknowingly hold deep-seated beliefs about it, and so
you have to design processes and support systems that allow people to process
through those emotions. Building administrators are the most important. I
would love to say that it’s because of me that all those implementations work
well, but it’s not. I, hey, I like to describe it as I have a thread tied to the back of a principal at the district office, and the principal has a rope tied
to teachers, and so it really is the guidance of the building principal that
inclusion is most effective. Also that’s how it becomes sustainable, when it becomes part of the building culture, not part of the district thing or initiative. Themes –
general ed teachers think there’s some magic happening down in special education and
not in a negative way, they just feel relief when those kids go
down there, because they know they’re getting the things they feel they need.
And they, in most cases, feel they can’t do it themselves; but the magic of
special ed has to be processed. I’ve also encountered special education themselves
unwilling to change. They like to collect the kids. They like to control them in a
room. They like to decide what they do, and sometimes I have to work with
special ed as much as gen ed about inclusion because of those practices. More people is not always the answer. I think there’s sometimes nothing worse
you can do then throw another untrained staff into a situation without a plan. It
only then compounds the classroom teacher’s need to manage people and when you don’t have a plan, it’s unclear how to manage those people. So, more people
isn’t always the answer. It can be a short-term solution to bridge a
situation, but often it increases more problems for the system and for the kids.
The other themes I’ve noticed is that the first three months of a transition
are the most challenging and the most unsure for people, but if you can support
them through that first three months, it all settles out mostly; and then you have
the kids needs that truly needs emerge. What that is, is, I believe it takes a
teacher about three months to get to know a kid well, and when they have a
bias about those kids coming in, they have to process that bias and rectify
that with the individual they see in front of them. And it happens
consistently in every setting I’ve done it in, that at three to four months, all of
a sudden, the major concerns stops cycling up and you start to hear teachers
talking about, “Oh Johnny knows how to do this; he doesn’t know how to do that,” and
“I know what Johnny likes,” and so now we have a good relationship, or Janie has a
strength here. And it really seems to settle in after the first three months.
Strategies – treat the concept of inclusion as a cognizant behavior.
There’s evidence-based strategies for supporting changing cognitive behaviors.
I find this establishing language, creating new systems, and replacing
existing systems with procedures, protocols, all these things provide
support for teachers to start the process for new behaviors. Use common
language, visuals. As a Special Ed district office administrator, it’s my job to
inform everyone’s attitude about inclusion. Inclusion isn’t a personal
belief system; it’s a special ed practice, and as the special ed Administrator,
you’re the expert in special education in your district so you have an
obligation to make sure all staff have the appropriate understanding of
inclusion. Collaboration with building administrators is the key. Master
schedule work, like mentioned earlier, these things are super important. Helping
them hire, supporting them with stressful situations, helping them through their
plans, any way to build that relationship, and help them be successful as a key
staff cheerleader is really important. Board meetings, celebrate, collaboration,
things like that, are really important. They are the work. Having visitors
come in reaffirms that they’re doing good work. Be willing to step in and do
the work when necessary. I’ve modeled co-teaching before. I have done classroom
observations of students for teams so they can get better information. Just be
willing to get in the trenches when supporting teachers. Keep the focus on
kids. You can have a really supportive staff in a school – everyone’s happy and
nothing positive is happening for kids – and so our support has to always be
laser focused on student outcomes – even when you’re working with a teacher
around struggles. You gotta keep the kid the front. Find teacher leaders. Manage
expectations. My first year, all implementation is lowering expectations,
not raising them, because it’s relationship; and a lot of the work, I tell people, it’s gonna be dirty, it’s gonna feel weird, it’s gonna be
awkward; because we’re reestablishing different relationships, so expect that.
And it’s okay to sit in that for awhile, figure it out, before we worry
about how effective we are. And that seems to go a long way with staff.
Process for building a system – first thing I like to do is create common
language. I create a visual of the continuum of service, with language, with
supports along that system, so it’s clear to everyone. Typically we do a Special Ed Handbook, and I make that with staff input; tighten up things like
guidance team processes, IEP meeting agendas, providing scaffolding and
structure to processes that allow quality decisions to be made,
provide specialized training. So I bring a co-teach trainer in, a national co-teach trainer whose name will be at the end of this under resources. The reason
I selected this company is because she does a model classrooms set up where it
works with teachers, and then after a few meetings they start to actually, she will
get in a class with another teacher and teach a lesson while others observe. And
then they go back and debrief that lesson. And really at the heart of it,
what she’s actually doing this teaching people how to plan together. It’s not
even as important. The co-teaching actually happens when people learn how
to plan together and see that in action, see the results in action. Big proponent
of celebrating staff board meeting presentations, around collaboration are
often something I do, with simple certificates, pictures, kudos, and
doesn’t have to be expensive. You don’t have to buy them gift cards. Recognition
goes a long way for this. After you start getting movement, it’s important for
district office administrators to review policies, budgets, the evaluation process,
building plans, provide reports to stakeholders, school boards, the community, that are inclusive of special ed so we’re writing policies to make sure we’re not
creating barriers. Making sure that the evaluation process is accurately
accounting for students with disabilities in classrooms, and the
requirements that each framework has for that. Making sure the district
building and team plans, if not by name support inclusion, have processes that
facilitate inclusion so collaboration, common planning time, professional
development; and then exploit those with staffs’ relationships. Make your moral an
imperative about the work clear – the non-negotiables which were mentioned
earlier. People have to know that if you work here, this is what we do; and we will
support you and will help you grow in those areas because that’s what we all
need. But it is our modus operandi for business. Identify leaders at the
building level for this work. You can’t administer a district change for this
magnitude that’s bound in emotion by a stroke of a pen or an email. A building
team has to be developed to facilitate the work at the school level, because
they have the knowledge of the kids that you don’t; and so you can’t accurately
project student needs or supports from the district office. And there has to be
ownership in the building. It starts with the principal. Ue tools to support new
behaviors – that’s just processes like I mentioned earlier. Provide specialized
training and remove barriers and policy, so, that’s really the general advice I
give folks. I do have a, I think it’s an 8 step process that I use that captures all
this, to sort of transition districts. (I’d) be happy to share that, if anyone wants to
reach out to me about that. The books, so everything I do is in mind, a collection
of great people I just happen to be good at collecting that, great people put in
the systems, but if you’re a special education administrator, and you don’t
have a handbook of leadership for special education administrator, I’ve put
a p.o. in today to order that. 27 states across the country require a certain mix
of education and certificates for special education leaders because it
is a unique field of leadership unto itself, and so I always advocate for
people to work from that framework because it helps address the work more efficiently. You must know John Hattie’s work. If you
don’t know it, buy it, buy all the books, read ’em, do book studies with your staff,
great work. The “Yes, We Can” book is a another Solution Tree publication. It’s a
story of an inclusive school in Illinois whose students with disability
achievement is, it almost mirrors that of the gen ed staff, and Illinois is one
of the states whose salaries are lower than Washington’s. One of the two states,
so Illinois and Nevada; so in the heart of a state where they’re not inclusive by
practice or design, they have, through the PLC process, have generated fantastic
outcomes for students with disabilities. And then at the end is a case manual
series for special ed administrators, CASE is the subdivision of CEC which is
the National Special Ed Organization, so CASE is the special administrator sub
division of CEC, and they have fantastic resources standards, and help really
define the work so that you can be effective. Sorry if I rush through that,
I’m going to try to honor everyone’s time, and that is what I have to
share today. It’s awesome to get an administrator’s perspective on what is
possible. Paula, are you able to talk about these a little bit? I know that we have
this funding document that’s useful, it’s OSPI’s “Unlocking Federal and State
Program Funds to Support Student Success.” So if you’re looking at some
possibilities for ways to support, that is available; and Paula, do you want to
talk a little bit about the other links that you share? In terms of resources, certainly that inclusionary practices page on the OSPI website has a series of resources that is broken up for leaders, practitioners, school personnel; and things like the LRE self-assessment, so that is probably the best advice I would give to go that page. (Large chunk of text missing next due to quiet speaking voice) (Nick) Yeah I can touch base on how you engage the community. I rely on the relationships the case
managers have, and start, and that relationship with the families that they
already serve, so when we transition sort of guiding them, we’re scripting a
conversation for, how do you bridge this with case managers? Giving them the words and sort of the process for doing that. Again, it’s relationship, and because it’s
so personal having the relationship with the family, it’s more genuine, and they
trust it more coming from a case manager than if I have a district meeting,
invited all the parents in, and sort of just said, “We’re doing inclusion.” Group
presentations about inclusion typically don’t go well; so I try to do
small groups or have individual meetings about that, because of the need for a
relationship to be part of those conversations. And it changes from
district to district. I’ve had, in Bellevue I set up, we had a community
education series, and I brought trainers in, and families attended, and it was more
of a formal parent training program. In Monroe, we had a community apparatus
already in place – that I set up the parent trainings – no one came, and so we
took it to this other apparatus where families were already engaged and once a
month did a check-in; but it was way less informal than the approach of Bellevue.
And then in Monroe here, we’ve started with the family conversations; the
teachers are facilitating that. And then as we start to look for that more consistently
and raising the expectations in the second year that’s when we’ll do a little more formal parent outreach. So those are some examples of how I’ve facilitated that. We are coming to
the end here so if you do have questions for us, we have contact information; and
we do have this cool YouTube channel, so if you want to catch this recording or
share it with friends, we really want to encourage you to subscribe to the OSPI
YouTube channel. We’re trying to get those thousand subscribers so
we can get you some cool new features and personalize our webinars a little
bit more. Thank you for joining us today.

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