Monday Message

October 20, 2019. WLWV Student Services. We Got This!

The Habits of Mind of Inclusive Schools

Last week, some of us had the pleasure of hearing Paula Kluth speak at the Fall COSA Special Education Conference and her big ideas about inclusive schools really pushed us and resonated with the great work you are doing each day. She reminded us that inclusion is not just another thing on our plate—it is the plate! When we are doing this work well, we are redesigning our schools to find ways where all students belong and are learning at high levels. Inclusion is a process, where we are continually learning.

This fall, you and your team may be thinking...”Do we have this?” You may have some learners or some classrooms or some colleagues where the way forward seems unclear. You may think, “Last year, we had our systems down, and now we are unsure.” These are the moments where we get creative, we go back to our beliefs, we go back to our toolkits, and we find a way. Paula’s words were: Over, under, around, or through-you will find a way to get there. Each student is unique so our capacity continues to build as we find a way with each student. And there will always be that next unique situation that humbles us, yet creativity is one of the joys of teaching and this work brings that out in us in profound ways.

One of the debates in inclusive education sounds like this: It’s great for the student to be included in the classroom but what about the specific skills instruction that student needs? There may be times that a pull out group is necessary. However, the big work is in co-planning with our colleagues to ensure there are STRUCTURES and ROUTINES built into the classroom experience where those skills can be embedded, practices, and reinforced. For example, if you have a student in middle or high school with significant communication needs who has a goal about initiating greetings with peers, can you work with the gen ed teacher to build 3 minute classroom greeting routine into the start of each period? Could this be paired with a peer partner so that attendance is taken at this same time? Or could a circle activity to be a way to practice academic vocabulary or share opinions about a text also include a greetings component once a week? Another example would be to build a station or small group into the workshop model where specific skills (answering comprehension questions) could be built into the content of the lesson. If we look for where the ROUTINES and STRUCTURES can exist within a general education classroom that can increase academic engagement for all students, we can find that place where students with more significant disabilities can engage in the work.

We know that we still have such a long way to go on this journey, yet amazing things are happening in our schools every day, where you all are leading this work. We had a visitor from Denver Public Schools last week who flew out to see the work of West Linn-Wilsonville educators in action, to see our process toward inclusive schools. After spending time in classrooms at Boeckman Creek, she was struck by the high levels of engagement for all students and the deep collaboration that occurred between all educators. In this work, we are lucky to affirmed for how far we have come, and to be pushed to continue to figure it out, one student at a time, over-under-around-or through!

Counselors Corner

This month's Counselor's meeting started with Andre Abraham leading the group in a community builder, knowing that building relationships is always a key part of our work together, and this connected back to action steps from last month's topic on Anxiety. Counselor's then checked in on their current process and any questions that have come up regarding the implementation of Erin's Law (4 lessons per year of sexual abuse prevention.) Mollie Hyman then led folks in differentiated learning, using the World Cafe questions format around Erin's Law Implementation questions, as well as a few scenarios from our shared text, "Onward: Cultivating Emotional Resilience in Educators." Finally, counselors spent some time unpacking the vision and recommendations for positive school climate/behavior that came out of the district's work with WWEA, known as the North Star document. We are so fortunate to have this amazing group of professionals leading work in all 16 of our school buildings!
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Unified Moments

Cycles of Inquiry

Learning Specialists are going deep this fall in Cycles of Inquiry. Folks are learning with and from each other, working to improve their practice, all in support of improving outcomes for our students. Small groups of learning specialist met for their second session, focused on Co-Teaching using UDL, Effective Peer Partnerships, Improving Writing, etc. We are excited to see what the next two sessions bring!
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Empowering Parents, Working Together for Mentally Healthy Students

Brittany Bucholz and Sarah Hiatt presented another round of Anxiety 101 for parents last week. This one was cosponsored by Stafford, Willamette, and Trillium Creek Primary Schools, and School Counselors at all of those schools helped publicize the event. Great turnout led to great learning for many parents!

Understanding anxiety as a normal part of the human experience, and how as parents we can support our children working through those feelings, is the heart of their presentation. Brittany and Sarah help folks understand causes, factors that may increase anxiety and more/less helpful things we can say/do as parents. Many parents were taking notes, asking questions, and sharing ideas with each other. Brittany and Sarah helped folks frame when additional supports may be needed and the practical path to getting outside therapeutic supports. In the photo below, you can also see how our Social Workers helped families understand how tools like our framework 7 Components for Inclusive & Equitable Classrooms can be part of what we do to help students work through anxiety.

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Student Voice in the IEP Success Stories

Hey y'all! This is our year! We can actually have 100% of students leading or meaningfully involved in their IEPs!There are so many success stories out there, but in this message we'd like to highlight 2.

First, Danielle Kirby at Cedaroak Park Primary. Danielle just had an initial IEP for a 5th grade student. That student was prepared and comfortable in meaningful participation. Danielle had interviewed her ahead of time and had that information in the draft of the present levels. The student had a copy of the draft of the IEP, and all the parts that the student was going to lead where highlighted for her. The student led the introductions, shared her strengths, and provided input on all accommodations. It was the student's first IEP and it truly was HER individualized plan, thanks to the relationship, hard-work, and planning on the part of her learning specialist, Danielle.

Second, Denise Parker at Meridian Creek Middle. Despite a large team, Denise worked ahead of time with an 8th grade student to effectively lead the start of his IEP. She worked with him to create a short google slides presentation where he wrote the words and inserted to pictures to authentically share what he has been learning this year. He was clear about what he is proud of in terms of his growth. Particularly when we have large teams of adults, it can be easy to overlook the student's role in the IEP. Denise showed us with a little prepwork and determination, this can not only set a positive tone for the meeting but it also creates an authentic opportunity to work on writing, speaking, and self-advocacy skills.

Here is a video that a student in our district recently used to share with her class about herself:

Animated Explanation of Autism

Nuts and Bolts Updates

*For any student with a Health Management Plan, these are attached in epep under the ATTACHMENTS tab.

*For primary schools- we will be taking DRA off the district wide assessment page.

The DRA is no longer a district wide assessment, as some schools now use DRA and some use Fountis & Pinnell. You will now just have to address the MAP assessment on the district wide page. You don’t need to change current IEPs, this will just be in place moving forward.