Academy for Social-Emotional Learning in Schools

Educational Equity

25

Oct

Rutgers Launches New Social Justice Prep Program for Future Educators

Summary:  This article reports on a new program offered by the Rutgers Graduate School of Education to help prepare aspiring teachers to to teach diverse groups of students.  Another aspect of this work is to encourage and enable teaches to use culturally responsive materials and resources in the classroom.

Source:  Pat Donachie, Education DIVE, October 25, 2017

Categories:  Social Justice, SEL Teacher Training, Professional Development, Restorative Practices, Educational Equity

12

Oct

“Our Students’ Relationships Start With Our Own”: A Special Educator’s Open Letter to Teachers

Summary:  This is an open letter from a special education teacher to her teacher colleagues which makes a number of points about differences and similarities between special education teachers and general education teachers.  One of the main points is that positive relationships between teachers leads the way to positive relationship between students.

Source:  Sasha Long, Education Week, October 11. 2017

Categories:  Positive Relationships, Special Education, Educational Equity, Empathy

22

Sep

Friends Elem School

The School Climate Problem (and What We Can Do About It)

Summary: This article makes the point about a positive school climate being about every student.  The author stresses the point that “All means all” saying that every student must feel connected to the school regardless of background, needs to be acted upon in practice in the school.  It needs to more than just a saying.

Source:  Peter DeWitt, Education Week Commentary, September 21, 2017

Categories: School Culture/Climate, Educational Equity, Student Engagement, Empathy

29

Aug

Counselor

As States Seek to Reduce Suspensions, Schools Look for Ways to Handle Discipline

Summary:  This article explores strategies that can be used as alternates to suspension and expulsion.  These methods called ATS (Alternatives to Suspension) provide other means to deal with discipline issues.  A number of other approaches are also covered in this article.

Source:  Linda Jacobson, Education DIVE, August 28, 2017

Categories:  Codes of Conduct, Student Behavior, Educational Equity

23

Aug

An On-Site Advocate for Every Student

Summary:  In this article, Maurice Elias makes a case for an SEL advocate for every student.  Dr. Elias feels that such a program would help to ensure that every child is treated equitably and that the focus would be placed on SEL development.

Source:  Maurice Elias, Edutopia, August 22, 2017

Categories:  SEL Basics, Educational Equity, Student Engagement, Parent Engagement

23

Aug

Teaching Love Over Hate: A Response to the Charlottesville Incident

by Karen Niemi, President and CEO, CASEL (Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning)

Dear CASEL friends:

Like so many of you, I’ve been shaken and horrified by the events of this past weekend in Charlottesville, Va. The prospect of overt and violent hatred and bigotry once again entering the American public square of ideas is abhorrent, and again, a very real threat.

I couldn’t help being struck that so many of the participants in the violence were so young, like 20-year-old white supremacist James Alex Fields Jr., who drove a car into a crowd of counter-protesters, injuring dozens and killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer. So much tragedy. . . a life cut short, and the living are left with pain, heartache, loss, and, for some, the inspiration for violence yet to come.

How could a society capable of nurturing so much beauty and compassion have also produced Mr. Fields? What forces stoked his fears of diversity and emboldened him with hate? How could his life have been different — not to mention the lives of hundreds of KKK members, alt-right supporters, white nationalists, and violent extremists — if he possessed the skills to understand and manage his emotions, feel empathy, and build positive relationships? We will never know.

I’m more convinced than ever that the work we do here at CASEL is part of the solution to this type of bigotry and fear. We believe in the power of education to teach nonviolence, promote understanding, endow children with purpose and meaning, and provide the skills and behaviors that can create a more inclusive, healthy, and positive future.

Our board chairman, Timothy Shriver, perfectly summed up what we must do to succeed when he said, “I want to change the cycle of stigma and prejudice that destroys lives all over the world every day. Until we can get in front of people and awaken them to the idea that this is not acceptable, it’s very difficult for people to appreciate what we do and change the way we act as a society.”

We are the educators who teach love over hate, the helpers who run toward disaster to comfort the afflicted, and the change agents who will help destroy prejudice and stigmatization.

I ask each of you not to disengage after the tragedy of this past weekend but instead to see it as a call to redouble our efforts because this work is vital, perhaps now more than ever. And we must succeed. Our children are counting on us. Our communities are counting on us. Our country is counting on us.

Together we will build a better tomorrow!

Karen Niemi

President and CEO

CASEL: Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning

Read the Full Post on CASEL’s Website

22

Aug

Promoting Student Independence & Successful Inclusion through Systematic Use and Fading of Supports

By Amy Golden, Behavior Therapy Associates (www.BehaviorTherapyAssociates.com)

 

Being able to be as independent as possible often substantially impacts future success in all aspects of life (Causton-Theoharis, 2009; Hume, Loftin, & Lantz, 2009). Therefore, as a student moves through adolescence, it is essential for the educational team and family to place increasing emphasis on promoting student independence. This should be carefully considered when developing the individualized educational plan (IEP) for the student.

IEPs often focus on short-term goals and objectives projected for the year ahead, with supports and services to help the student achieve those skills. However, it is suggested that the IEP should be developed as a plan emphasizing independence, with long-term goals always on the forefront of the discussion. With this framework in mind, the team should focus on supports the student needs now to ultimately require less intrusive supports in the future. Goals for independent functional skills should be included in addition to those that are academically oriented. A variety of accommodations and modifications should center on promoting both student progress and independence (Asher, Gordon, Selbst & Cooperberg, 2010; Twachtman-Cullen, 2000). Areas of independence may include behaviors such as initiating tasks, transitioning between activities or locations, organizing materials, caring for one’s own daily needs, and more.

Paraprofessionals are routinely assigned to support students with autism spectrum disorders in the school environment (Giangreco, Halvorsen, Doyle, & Broer, 2004).  There are many clear advantages and disadvantages to this approach.  Paraprofessionals often provide the assistance students require to access less restrictive settings.  Some of their responsibilities may include taking the lead for implementing behavior plans, gathering important information about the student’s skills and deficits, promoting social interactions with peers, and collecting data (Twachtman-Cullen, 2000).  

A key advantage of the use of paraprofessional supports includes the ability to promote generalization for the student across environments. Having detailed knowledge of the student’s abilities and challenges allows them to plan ahead as well as prepare to assist the student in new situations and settings. While these are all reasonable tasks and often necessary benefits, providing 1:1 adult assistance can also be considered most restrictive and significantly impact the student’s autonomy. Peers may be less likely to approach and interact with the student due to an adult’s presence (Giangreco, Edelman, Luiselli, & MacFarland, 1997). The student may engage in spontaneous conversation more readily with the adult, creating an unnatural division from the student’s classmates. The potential for prompt dependency is also heightened when an adult is always present (Causton-Theoharis, 2009). Best intentions to provide support for the individual may result in too much being done for the student or the use of intrusive prompts without a careful fading plan.

Therefore, prior to establishing the need for 1:1 staffing, a thorough assessment of the specific areas for support should be completed. Teams should convene to determine what they anticipate achieving by using 1:1 supports and review if these needs can be met more effectively in other ways to promote student independence (Causton-Theoharis, 2009). For example, students may benefit from using communication devices, technology, additional visual cues, peer modeling, and environmental adaptations. Additionally, providing teachers and paraprofessionals with more advanced training can encourage the use of alternative and creative ways to assist the student (Stockall, 2014; Giangreco, Edelman, Luiselli, & MacFarland, 1997). Instructing staff on the principles of applied behavior analysis, such as content included in the training for Registered Behavior Technicians (RBT), can improve upon educators’ utilization of effective prompting and fading strategies (Behavior Analyst Certification Board, 2013).

Once 1:1 support is in place for a student, collecting data on the paraprofessional’s role can provide great insight into the student’s ongoing needs.  While it is customary to collect data focusing on student behavior, it is suggested that staff also self-monitor their own involvement with the student throughout the day.  Sample content may include the types of prompts being used, the number of prompts required, and the proximity of the paraprofessional to the student.  This information can be used to describe how the services are being used to support the student and point to areas in which the student requires further assistance.  For example, if a student has consistent difficulty with unpacking and organizing his belongings each day, a visual list or schedule can be implemented to orient the student to the required tasks with the goal of gradually removing the adult from the prompt. The visual prompt can remain in place long-term and allow the student to work independent of adult assistance. Continuous documentation indicating the need for verbal prompting can signal a potential concern, thus leading to the development of new intervention strategies specific to promoting self-sufficiency for the student.

Ongoing assessment should also help to determine if the 1:1 support is needed throughout the entire day or just for specific subjects or activities.  By reviewing the student’s schedule and targeted needs across environments, the paraprofessional can be scheduled for support only when necessary.  Thus, student independence can be promoted by fading the adult support from specific activities or subjects.  Fading may be done gradually, with the paraprofessional taking increasingly greater steps away from supporting the individual in each setting.  For example, a student may be accustomed to being escorted to the bathroom, between classes, or to the bus at the end of the day.  A plan for promoting the student’s independence would consider whether the student could learn to navigate these transitions on their own or perhaps with a peer.  Rather than relying on the adult to prompt the student, alternate strategies should be investigated.

As educational teams plan how to support students, focusing on long-term goals for greater independence will serve a student well by preparing him/her for the future.  Collecting data throughout the fading process can help to pinpoint any new concerns, allowing the team to consider novel strategies for helping the student and maximizing opportunities for self-sufficiency.

References

Asher, M. J., Gordon, S. B., Selbst, M.C., Cooperberg, M. (2010). The Behavior Problems Resource Kit: Forms and Procedures for Identification, Measurement, and Intervention. Champaign, IL: Research Press.

Behavior Analyst Certification Board (2013). Registered Behavior Technician Task List

Causton-Theoharis, J.N. (2009). The golden rule of providing support in inclusive classrooms: Support others as you would wish to be supported.  Teaching Exceptional Children, 42(2), 36-43.

Doyle, M. B. (2008). The paraprofessional’s guide to the inclusive classroom: Working as a team (3rd ed.). Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes

Giangreco, M.F. & Broer, S.M. (2007). School-based screening to determine overreliance on paraprofessionals.  Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 22(3).

Giangreco, M.F., Edelman, S., Luiselli, T.E., & MacFarland, S.Z. (1997). Helping or hovering? Effects of instructional assistant proximity on students with disabilities. Exceptional Children, 64, 7–18.

Giangreco, M.F., Halvorsen, A.T., Doyle, M.B. & Broer, S.M. (2004). Alternatives to overreliance on paraprofessionals in inclusive schools.  Journal of Special Education Leadership, 17(2), 82-90.

Hume, K., Loftin, R. & Lantz, J. (2009).  Increasing independence in autism spectrum disorders: A review of three focused interventions. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 39(9), 1329-1338.

Stockall, N. S. (2014). When an aide really becomes an aid: Providing professional development for special education paraprofessionals. Teaching exceptional children46(6), 197-205.

Twachtman-Cullen, D. (2000). How to be a para pro: A comprehensive training manual for paraprofessionals. Higganum, CT: Starfish Specialty.

About the Author

Amy Golden, M.S., BCBA is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. She received her undergraduate degree in Psychology and Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and graduate degree in Applied Behavior Analysis at St. Cloud State University.  agolden@behaviortherapyassociates.com

 

21

Aug

How to Combat a Negative Climate by Promoting Respect and Understanding

Summary:  This article by CASEL makes a statement about how respect and understanding is needed in this time of negativity in the aftermath of the Charlottesville incidents earlier this month.  The article also provides resources for addressing hate and racism in the classroom as well as resources supporting SEL.

Source:  CASEL, August 2017

Categories:  Core Values, Positive Relationships, Educational Equity, SEL Basics, Empathy

18

Aug

Districts Start School Year With Thoughts on How to Handle Charlottesville Protests

Summary:  This article provides some resources and ideas for dealing with the Charlottesville protests and other controversial subjects in the classroom.  Experts recommend administrators provide support and PD to teachers on addressing difficult subjects.

Source:  Linda Jacobson, Education DIVE, August 17, 2017

Categories:  Education Equity, Professional Development, Core Values, Positive Relationships, School Culture/Climate

18

Aug

Social Justice Reading List as a Resource for Teachers

Summary:  The National Network of State Teachers of the Year (NNSTOY) has created a list of resources called the “Social Justice Book List.”  This list is available to teachers as a aide to starting conversations and search for solutions in response to the recent social unrest in our country.

Source:  Laura Beth Ellis, NNSTOY, August 17, 2017

Categories:  Educational Equity, Social Justice, Core Values, SEL Basics, School Culture/Climate