Frameworks to Support Diversity
I am THRILLED to announce the release of my first book, “One Without the Other.” The first batch has been shipped and arrived this weekend. I was so excited I opened it right on the street! I also made sure to give my mom the first autograph 🙂
This has been a big year of writing and editing and editing and editing and finally the day has come! My first book release celebration with be in Prince George on Thursday evening, with another planned in Vancouver in the fall.
As an introduction, I have included the introduction! Below is a section of the text to get a sneak peak of the new book. For more information on how to order, there will be links below.
I was teaching a course last summer at the University of British Columbia called “Conceptual Foundations of Inclusive Education.” Thirty or so practicing teachers from various subject areas, knowledge expertise, and experience levels from across British Columbia joined me for three weeks of deconstruction, inquiry, and reflection, creating an engaging community of learners. The course was in July, and on this particular day, it was my birthday. We started the class with some cupcakes and hung up “Happy Birthday” bunting across the whiteboard, before diving into our explorations and understanding of the concept driving learning systems all over the world – inclusive education.
I showed a slide to my students with four bubbles. Their job was to label the bubbles with the appropriate terms (inclusion, integration, exclusion, and segregation) based on their own experience and prior knowledge of the concepts.
After some discussion, it was agreed that Bubble C in fact represented inclusion. This is the common consensus arrived at in many groups that I have worked with, both in pre and in-service professional development settings.
After further discussion, however, a student commented, “Shelley, I don’t think that this diagram is inclusion either.” This caught me off guard.
“Of course this is inclusion!” I thought. I have shown this slide to hundreds if not thousands of people! What could she possibly mean?
She further explained, “Look what you have shown us. I see a bubble with a whole bunch of green dots. And then, there are a scattered handful of other coloured dots.”
“Yeah,” I said, “and…”
“Well, in my definition of inclusion, there is no other.”
I stood there speechless, because she was absolutely right. The diagram I was presenting was not one of inclusion; it was an example of the traditional model of education. The model where our goal is to produce more of the same – lingering evidence of the factory model of education where we needed to produce and replicate people to meet the demand of the workforce during the industrial revolution (Robinson, 2009; Zhao, 2009). A model where our job as educators (and especially special educators) was to identify students who aren’t green and fix them. Send the red kids to the red teacher, the blue kids to the blue teacher and the yellow kids to the yellow teacher. This model of education is a deficit, medical model, and I was showing the class a perfect example of how it was still plaguing us today. But more and more kids are coming to us not green! Not only is this model less effective, but also we are running out of funding, supports and students to allow this model to continue. Some have met this shift in paradigm with panic – others are seeing it as an opportunity. An overdue shift to starting to match our goals of education to the goals and expectations needed to meet the current demands of our society –which does no longer want people to comply. This is especially true now, as more and more occupations involving compliance and replication, are being replaced by machines (Zhao, 2009).
Educational reforms are happening on a global scale, including British Columbia and other provinces in Canada, where the Ministries of Education are completely restructuring their curriculum, being designed and written by teachers for teachers, with the emphasis on moving away from classrooms of green students (BC Ministry of Education 2015). We are no longer living in the industrial revolution; this is the 21st century — where we need to value the strengths rather than deficits in learning. Rather than finding out why students aren’t green, our job is now to find out what their colour is. What do they bring? What can they contribute because of their diverse and unique expertise? For decades we have been trying to take this “colour” out of our of students, taking the special out of special education, the autistic out of autism, the language out of cultures, and especially, the indigenous out of First Nations, Metis and Inuit children. This is not teaching to diversity. This is not inclusive. Teaching to diversity and inclusion is where we value the characteristics that ARE diverse, and not try and homogenize them.
The class continued to discuss what the conceptual diagram of inclusion could be, and together we decided that the only way to ensure there was no “other” was not to make us all green, but instead to make as all “an other” (see figure 3).
When looking at inclusion this way, it also helped us realize that this is no longer a idea specific to special education. There is a distinct gap between the silos of special education and curriculum (Pugach & Warger, 2001; Thomas & Loxley, 2007), but if we look at inclusion as a concept of teaching to the diversity of all, rather than just a special education initiative, we can bridge this gap. We are diverse, all of us. We all have strengths, we all have stretches, and we all need to get better at something. The difference in teaching to diversity, however, is that we don’t start with our deficits; we start with our strengths, and this includes students, teachers, support staff, custodians, bus drivers and parents. My good friend Leyton Schnellert refers to this collective as “the ecology of learning communities.” Inclusive education relies on the diversity of its ecosystem, to not only promote coexistence and tolerance, but to thrive on the learning and interaction of each person in the community
Through this discussion, I also realized that, if we can now extend inclusive education to include every diverse learner, then we also can also start to view inclusion as not something we simply do; instead it becomes something that just is. We cannot escape or avoid the diversity in our world by attempting to homogenize and standardize our classrooms and learners. Homogeneity is a battle that has never been won and never will. Civilizations have collapsed in their attempt to make everyone the same (Morris, 2013). This is no longer our vision of education (thank goodness) and we are long overdue in matching our vision to our practices in classrooms, schools and communities.
It was also on this particular day, that I was inspired to write this book, because it was on this day I realized that, if inclusion and diversity is something that just is, then it is also something we live, something we are, and something we believe in together. And it is through this common goal that we can also be unified: we can be one without being an other.
So please allow me to introduce to you “One without the Other.”
One Without the Other is available from:
Every morning of every day
what supports do you rely on
to help along the way?
We wake up in the morning,
our phones honk, chime or blast our favs
and we struggle to get out of bed
to music, horns and crashing waves
Thank goodness for many alarm clocks
as some need extra help to get up again
and a dog licking their face
because there are a few who are tier 3 before 10.
Our coffee brews with the push of a button
or sometimes on its own,
with programmable toasters and microwaved eggs
as we look at the schedules on our phone.
The shirt we picked up from the dry cleaner
is nicely pressed and ready to go,
we even sometimes ask our spouse
if our tie matches our socks… or no?
We get into our car with a keyless remote
and our seat adjusts to our height,
we program our GPS device
and then chose the guiding voice that’s just right.
We have choices of radio, books or music
to listen to as we drive
or we pick up a friend on the way to work
to chat with as we offer a ride.
An app buzzes to tell us to take our meds
as we roll in to park at our job,
and we look at the camera as we back up our car to park,
and lock it with the click of a fob.
We talk to our colleagues about questions and topics
throughout our day as we work,
we bring and share snacks with those who may have forgot
and are hungry while they do paper work.
On the weekends we have fun, and hangout with our friends,
we may choose to go to a movie or show.
Or relax at home, order pizza that someone else made,
as we celebrate our life with those we know.
And at the end of those extra hard weeks
or the last few days before spring break,
you might even catch us with a beverage in hand
or a little extra something in our shake.
We build the life that we want, and seek supports that we need
to get through all our day’s pace,
choice and celebration we find
guide us to our success, and we realize that life is not a race.
Now, lets change our perspective
to those who are scholars,
students who are very much like us
but just a little bit smaller.
Students who, like me
had to sit to their hands
so they wouldn’t count with their fingers
to make sure it was math they could understand.
Or those who are only allowed
to show their learning in one way,
rather than offering choice
and whether to go or to stay.
Using calculators, or spellcheck
are all seen as them cheating,
they aren’t allowed to talk to others
and must be in rows while they’re seating.
Trying to monitor advantages for some kids but not all
makes us weary,
forgetting we all have a reader and scribe in our pockets
and we all know her as Siri!
We are running around
getting to everyone we can,
rather than building in supports from the start
helping everyone in the plan.
We will never have enough
staffing, funding, or time,
if we continue to retrofit our supports
instead of building it as part of the design.
But in order to do that
we have to let go of the thinking,
that supports are only for some
and kids don’t need to prove that they are sinking.
And teaching instead when they need a support
to regulate their learning and others’
so they can know how to push themselves further
instead of relying on their mothers!
Look at winter tires for a perfect example,
a support we all use to this day,
between October and March we change our tires over
so that when it’s icy our car does not stray
I can guarantee the mechanic would not say,
“WINTER TIRES?! Shhhh someone might hear!
Do you really want someone to know that you have them
Let hope they have plugs in their ears.”
I can also bet that you wouldn’t hear
a tire shop owner complain,
that getting tires for winter should be something you prove
you really need before you get chains.
The best of all, (and it makes me laugh)
is thinking about winter tire reviving,
imagining if someone said to us, “Forget It!
You’ll lose the skill of bald tire driving!”
It’s ridiculous to think about,
because the opposite is true
it is changing our tires in winter that makes us good drivers,
not trying to just push though!
Pushing through winter conditions
even if only for one day,
can you imagine the Coquihalla
if people actually thought this way?
Now if you see a driver with studs on in June
this might be a conversation upcoming,
or maybe they just moved to Canada and heard rumours
to get ready, because winter is coming!
But guess what?! It doesn’t matter!
Because I can definitely tell you,
that no one has been hurt by too many supports
but so many have been harmed with too few
Supports for all! This is the key!
let kids not be our education sequel,
where supports weren’t allowed and we weren’t taught to believe
that fair is not always equal.
I will leave you with one last story to remind you
that support is not a bad thing.
A boy named Zach came up to me in Grade 8
and told me something that zinged.
He said, “Ms. Moore, you were my favourite teacher
but I definitely hated your class,
because you made me believe for a second
that I may have been good at math,
and when Grade 9 arrived
it put me back in my place
and made me remember
that this is all just a race.
A race I’ve never been good at,
a race that I’ve never won,
that school is where I fail
not where I have fun.”
Think of your kids now,
what kind of teacher do you want to be
one that supports them to believe in themselves
or make them feel like they cheat and must plea?
Plea for their grades, for a pass,
or for their needs to be met.
Who is in control now?
Not the kids I suspect.
Support them from the start!
With choice, options and many plans,
so when they look over their shoulder
They see a SWEEPER VAN!!!
Let’s teach kids the skills and
de-criminalize supports they need to prevail!
They will self regulate their learning
and get what they need BEFORE they fail.
This poem was from our first Richmond School District Ignite. 20 slides, 15 seconds each, 5 minutes… SO HARD!!!! And so naturally I thought…What a great opportunity to have a try at Suessonian Verse!
I will post the video here soon!
Last year I was so honoured to receive a SSHRC scholarship to support my research in inclusive education. The SSHRC award is given to scholars across the country highlighting research that supports innovation and the quality of life of Canadians. This funding has allowed me to work with schools and teachers and students all over this province including my own home district in Richmond, BC. An additional contest for award winners announced this fall was called the “SSHRC Storyteller Award.” Our job was to create a 3 minute video of our research as a STORY!! Is this perfect for me or what!!!!
The even more exciting news is that it was announced today that my video is a top 25 finalist. Me and 24 other scholars across Canada will be highlighted at Congress in Calgary. I chose to share the story of the Outside Pins. If you have seen me present before you know how much I love my bowling metaphor. I have written a blog post about it before and it has been highlighted on the think inclusive website.
Well now I have a video! I hope you enjoy it and please feel free to share. Let me know how you use it if you find it useful, I love to hear the stories of the stories!
Last October I was invited, by the lovely Maria LaRose, to present for the Dalai Lama Centre’s Heart Mind Conference complete with a slate of speakers that left me speechless including Kim Schonert-Reichl, Deborah MacNamara, Peter Senge and others. We were brought together to speak to the changing tide of technology and our role as digital citizens, and what emerged was a collection of stories and perspectives that cradled our hearts and challenged our minds.
I get asked all the time, “Why inclusion? Of all the topics you could research, what is it about inclusion that stands out for you?”
The alignment of this question with the conference seemed a perfect match, and so a story emerged of my own experiences as a student, the value of teachers who t/caught me and the importance of the lenses which informs my inclusive rationale driving both my philosophy and practice.
We are quickly approaching anti-bullying day, and paralleling with this theme of lens and perspective, I invite you to watch with an open mind and heart and ask yourself, How will you find out the story??”
….OR if you are just really curious as to what I looked like as a 5 year old, take a peek 🙂
2015 Heart Mind Conference: What’s the story?
Over the past year, I have been collaborating with SETBC, a Ministry of Education provincial resource program supporting classrooms throughout the province with technology support, professional development and training for staff and students!
I have also been working with local school districts in finding ways to meet the needs and plan for diverse classes using evidence-based frameworks including Universal Design for Learning, Response to Intervention, Inquiry and more. It has been amazing to see how teams have taken these frameworks and made them their own. With SETBC and support from schools, I have been able to make this series online for everyone!
Curriculum for ALL is a self directed online course with individual self-paced modules designed to help schools and collaborative teams plan for and include all students into curricular classes regardless of age, subject, language, experience or cognitive ability.
So find a friend, or join a team and take a peek. I would love your feedback and anecdotes about how you have used the resources and planning ideas in your school.
Here is the link:
and HAPPY PLANNING!!!
So, yesterday I was fortunate to spend the day co-presenting with two of my colleagues, mentors and friends, Faye Brownlie and Leyton Schnellert. The three of us were invited to be the featured speakers at the BCSSA Spring Forum, which brought together leaders including superintendents, administrators, directors of instruction and teachers from around the province, for a day with a theme of inclusive education. I contemplated writing about my session for you here, but my presentation was captured on camera! SO today, instead of writing, I get to TELL you about a moment in my life that has forever changed my practice and beliefs about teaching. I invite you to watch, share, and hopefully laugh without offence 🙂
May I present to you… The Sweeper Van.