The SBSK Guide to Inclusion and Mindful Teaching (A Must See for Parents and Educators)

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The SBSK Guide to Inclusion and Mindful Teaching (A Must See for Parents and Educators)

in this video I’m going to share with you everything I’ve learned about inclusion and creating a positive environment where every person around you can reach their full potential for the last four years I’ve been traveling all over the world and I’ve interviewed thousands of people living with various disabilities and cognitive differences I’ve listened to countless people share their philosophies and experiences when it comes to living with disabilities and since I’ve been doing this for years now I’ve been listening and when you listen you learn a lot so in this one video I’m gonna summarize to you everything I’ve learned thus far through SB SK that I hope will become a resource for parents and teachers and educators and therapists but I promise no matter who you are whether you’re a child a teenager you’ll work in a whole different field completely if you take the time and watch this video you’re going to find that the methodologies that we discuss here are useful with anybody and you can use what we’re discussing these tactics to improve your relationships and enable other people to reach their full potential so let’s get at it rule number one in order for a person to reach their full potential they must first feel truly and 100% accepted as they are and I know that seems like an easy roll I know that seems like something that we all do but so often we think we’re accepting somebody as they are but we’re only accepting them based off of their future potential let me give you an example it’s the very first day of school and all the children are coming into your classroom and you’re telling each child how they’re perfect and you’re so happy they’re there in your classroom and then little Billy who’s on the autism spectrum gets out of the seat and he starts flapping his hands as soon as he does that often the educator will ask Billy to sit down they’ll tell him you can’t do that we just communicated verbally to Billy that he’s perfect just the way he is but as soon as he does something that’s not societally typical we try to change his behavior so our actions and our words are in contradiction with one another in this particular exam well the teacher is trying to change Billy in his very first day of school that’s communicating to Billy that he’s not ready for school but the way he is is not okay that he won’t thrive in that environment and I think often it’s easy to confuse accepting somebody just as they are and helping them the progress from there with kind of accepting somebody as they are and giving up and saying oh well this kid can’t make progress the truth is you can have your cake and you can eat it too you can accept somebody exactly how they are and also help them progress from there in fact I found that students and children and really everybody around me is more willing to listen to feedback when they know that I already like them unconditionally just as they are so rule number one to creating an inclusive environment is that before you provide any type of constructive feedback which is okay before you do that make sure that that person fully understands that you accept them a hundred percent as they are not based off of their future potential but you accept them as they are in this moment and that they are a valuable person as they are I also just for a moment want you to consider what kind of message you’re communicating to a child when you tell them not to flap or not to do whatever it is they’re doing at first I’ve interviewed many different people on the autism spectrum who communicated to me that they jump around or flap their hands because they’re all excited when we try to correct that behavior and tell somebody not to flap their hands when we first meet them we’re communicating to them that we don’t want them to communicate with us we don’t want to know in their excitement we don’t want to know when they’re happy because often when we have a student for the first time that might be the only way they know how to communicate excitement and if initially in our very first week of working with that kid we tell them not to do that they’re going the thing that it’s no longer okay to communicate their emotions to their teacher imagine that being a student in a new environment when you already have a cognitive difference and it’s hard for you to perceive the world around you and already in your very first day in the classroom your teacher is telling you not to communicate your emotions I would be devastated and I think that many problem behaviors that are disruptive to the classroom happen because a student doesn’t feel alright they feel like they can’t communicate with their teacher or anyone around them in order for a child to feel safe and know that they can communicate anything they have to know that they’re fully accepted just as they are now before we progressed to rule number two we first have to define inclusion inclusion is not closing your eyes and pretending like everybody in the world is the same

because that’s not true inclusion is understanding that the world is diverse and the people in it vary greatly and embracing that there’s many different physical abilities and cognitive states and that each person no matter where they fall on that spectrum has an inherent value that’s the same and now that I’ve defined inclusion I can share rule number two be aware of the differences and make accommodations when necessary but focus on the similarities when we completely ignore the natural diversity of humans have become like everybody’s the same people might not get the accommodations they need to be included in society instead we have to acknowledge accommodate then focus on the similarities because once those accommodations are in place and everybody has everything they need to be an equal member of society it’s time to acknowledge that we’re all human and we have so much more in common than we do different because I can promise you no matter who a person is even me or my rebellious teen years I wanted to be part of a community and I wanted to be part of a team and that happens when other people focus on what you have in common with them while respecting and acknowledging and celebrating even the differences now before we move on to rule number three we have to establish why inclusion is so important in an educational setting inclusion is allowing children with disabilities and neurodiversity access to the same type of educational setting as the general population is early and often today children with cognitive differences are put in a classroom together to the side of the school while everybody else is in a different setting currently there’s many school districts that are shifting towards a more inclusive model where all students start together and learning now I don’t talk about this much but I also work with schools all over the place and can slope with them about how to make a more inclusive and productive environment and in order to feel out the school I always start each of these sessions by gathering all the teachers all the staff together and asking them a question what is the biggest obstacle preventing you from creating a truly inclusive environment in your classroom and no matter where I am whether it be San Diego or Seattle or Philadelphia I always get the same answer I am told that the students who are coming into an inclusive setting from the special education classroom have behaviors and they’re problematic and disruptive and they take too much time to manage when teachers are already overwhelmed with the amount of students they have before we really examine that statement I think we need to consider a few things number one this is something I’m hearing no matter where I am so this isn’t a problem in any particular School District this is a societal problem and it’s a large one number two I do not want to devalue what those teachers are saying because I know it is overwhelming and that you can have a lot of students and it can be hard to manage and I completely understand that as I was a teacher for four years – but I think we should really alter how we’re looking at the situation and understand the opportunity that inclusion presents I believe that the greatest thing a person can be taught is that every single human regardless of their cognitive abilities their physical state their race their gender to their age every person has an inherent value that’s the same through inclusion teachers have an opportunity to teach every single one of their students this children and students learn by observing the behaviors of their superiors but when a student what the difference comes into your classroom and you follow the rules were outlining today all of their years we’ll believe that’s the norm and that’s how we treat one another and today when you examine the statistics for disability and employment it’s really disheartening to see how low those percentages are I believe a large reason for that is the problematic educational systems of the past when children with differences cognitively were sent to the corner all of their peers observe that and they believed that was the norm so when those peers got out of high school and college and they wedding got jobs and got to a place where they can employ others all they’ve ever seen their entire lives is that those with a disability aren’t part of the school they’re not part of the team so when they were presented the opportunity to hire somebody with a difference more often than not they want it because their whole life has been demonstrated for them that people aren’t included when they have a difference but with inclusion we can change that and many other things now I don’t want to undermine any of the lessons or content taught in school but I do want to ask

you what do you believe is more important teaching a student how to find X or teaching a student that everybody in this world has an intrinsic value here where I’m from in the United States we’re dealing with a lot of issues and a lot of problems I believe a lot of them could be solved if we begin modeling through our youth at an early age that inclusion is the correct system and that everybody should be part of our team no matter who they are I do understand and acknowledge that some students take more of a time commitment than others but remember every single time a student asks you for help you’re being offered the opportunity to demonstrate that every other one of your students that we do help one another out that we don’t leave anybody behind and that is the greatest lesson of all and that’s why inclusion is so darn important all right now that we’ve established the importance of inclusion let’s talk about rule number three presume competence that simply means that have a belief in everybody around you believe their cape of growing believe they’re capable of learning and believe they’re capable of making progress now to really illustrate for you why this rule is so vital I need to introduce you to my friend Hayden when Hayden was born the doctors told him and his family all the negatives when I first met Haight and his mom communicated to me the doctors first said he might never think or feel or hear or breathe independently he won’t eat feel think so knowing that and going into the interview I made the conscious decision to talk to Hayden and to look him in the eye directly everyone around you is going to be filled with love because of you and the truth is I would be a liar if I was to tell you 100% I was positive Hayden could understand my words the truth is there’s many different cognitive levels some people can understand speech and some can’t but each of those people hold the same value regardless and also it doesn’t matter who I’m talking to I’m gonna communicate with them with the accommodations necessary and believe that they’re capable of having a meaningful interaction and when I did this with Hayden it changed everything I’m really glad a guy as great as you exists in this world now it’s funny because I said at that time I wasn’t sure if Hayden could understand my speech but I did know that he could understand that I believed in him and then I presumed confidence because when you presume competence it changes so many things about the interaction it changes your tone it changes your little facial nuances you can’t even control in this particular interview it changed the way I held hate and I held him with more confidence I looked right at him it changes so many things that were perceiving at a subconscious level really an animalistic level and even if Hayden isn’t understanding my speech he’s understanding my belief she’s understanding he’s in an environment that’s safe and because of that it allowed for us to have this productive and meaningful interaction now the reason I love this particular example is because two years after that first interview I went back to visit Hayden and over there’s two years his family presumed competence they never missed a therapy appointment and because of that after two years Hayden could communicate with the communication device which reads his eyes and he can click on words and letters with his eyes and he learned to communicate that way hi my name is Hayden I am 6 years old 6 years old I’ve known you since you were 4 years old and from the time you were 4 till the time you were 6 you make so much progress and I’m proud of you the first step the results is belief we’re not going to give a plant the nutrients it needs to grow unless we believe it’s capable of growing that’s why you must presume competence in everybody around us everybody has a different ceiling but they will never reach that ceiling unless we believe in them and presume competence and that brings us to rule number 4 rule number 4 is that positive reinforcement should not be contingent upon results we have to acknowledge that everybody’s full potential varies whether it be academically socially or some other Department not everybody is going to reach the same threshold and you know what that’s ok I love that

particular example of Hayden because it showed how presuming competence can lead to growth and put you in a situation where you can just prosper but many children given that same opportunity won’t reach the same heights as Hayden but that does not make them any less valuable the value Hayden and any other human holds remains the same regardless of progress and with that established we can move on to role number 5 positive reinforcement telling somebody they’re doing great and that you’re proud of them it should be contingent on effort we just established that in life everybody will reach different goals and that’s okay what we should reward is effort if somebody is trying their hardest we should praise them we should reinforce them and we should include them and wrap our arms around them like we do every other person there’s nothing worse than trying your best and not being reinforced that in fact makes it a whole lot less likely but you’ll continue putting forth effort in the future if you want to have students who are just consistently trying their hardest make sure you praise that effort make sure you compliment their hard work because not everybody can accomplish the same thing in the present moment but everybody can try their hardest and that needs to be acknowledged all right so before we move on to a rule number six I just have to remind you that these rules were discussing for students for children they’re not just rules for our youth they’re rules for everybody I use these when I look at my own life I’ll use an example of presuming competence when I first started this blog SBS K nobody cared it was my family a few friends who were following it and for the first few months that’s all it was but I presume competence and I had believed that it could grow into something that millions of people cared about and because I had that belief I acted and I made videos day after day after day because I presumed that it would grow I had this belief that it was capable of impacting change these philosophies were discussing if you use them in your life your own quality of life will improve so although I’m making it relative to being in the classroom and working with students which it is I just want you to know before we continue that if you use these methods and principles it will work to your benefit rule number six is one of the most important deliver feedback with positivity it is okay to provide feedback the purpose of education is to help people grow and learn and that’s made possible through feedback but often feedback to a child can just sound like criticism you’re telling them everything they’re doing wrong you’re telling them what they’re messing up and that can even cause a child to raise their defense mechanisms and become shut off towards the teacher and I found through my experience that feedback can always be delivered in a productive and positive way take for example in an academic lesson where a child supposed to underline the adjective but they instead underlined the noun instead of pointing out you did this wrong you did this wrong I would call the child to the side and I would say my goodness Susie I am just always so proud of your effort you’re always trying your hardest and let me show you one little thing you can correct that will make you even better and you’re already amazing this is gonna put you over to the top Susie I’m doing the same exact thing as saying this is wrong but the way I’m delivering it is completely different and Susie’s puffing out her chest she’s thinking she’s the greatest thing in the world and all of a sudden she’s much more likely to listen to me and I know it’s summer you are thinking yeah that’s great for Susie but what about Bill Bill’s a real you know he’s a tough guy I worked with students who could be physically aggressive who would try to hurt you and I would have to help restrain them so they wouldn’t hurt me their peers or others even in those type of moments after a student de-escalated I would go over to the student and I would say listen I can’t even understand how difficult it is for you because of the things you’ve been through but I want you to know I’m just so proud of you that you were able to de-escalate in five minutes because at the beginning of the school year it took you 20 minutes look at this data 20 minutes at the beginning of the school year to de-escalate and now it’s a quarter of that time that shows me that you’re making great progress and then you deliver the feedback and once you learn to reduce it even more and we’re gonna get there I know you can because I know you can do great things once you reduce that percentage even more you’re gonna be capable of great things that you don’t even understand right now so even though it’s one of the most difficult situations a student being recive you don’t just become another

person telling them they’re messing up you become a person saying I believe in you you’ve got this you can do great things and we still need to fix these certain things and behaviors but you can do it I know you came imagine if nobody’s ever believed in you before and you received instruction like that it would mean the world before discussing rule number seven I want to set some expectations for what our community can expect if we follow all of these rules if you study any great social movement towards equality over the past few centuries it doesn’t happen all at once it’s slow and steady progress that sometimes takes over a hundred years so right now we’re at the beginning of a social movement towards inclusion it’s not going to happen overnight I wish it would but it’s not right now we’re setting the framework we’re setting the structure so every time you have a student that takes a little bit more effort remember you’re part of the revolution you’re part of the framework and every time you handle that situation by following these rules you’re modeling and communicating with an entire classroom of students how we do things how we include people and then that gets filtered down through generations and it becomes the norm right now we’re at the beginning we’re setting the precedent things are not going to change overnight that’s just not the way social movements work but if we’re intentional if we’re mindful and if we’re consistent long after we’re gone we’re planting seeds for the future but long after we’re gone it will be a much more inclusive world and I think that’s what we should all aspire to create so with that said let’s get into our final rule rule number seven is to create positive bonds with your students and allow them to communicate with you and I know that seems so simple but let me detail for you a time when it wasn’t for me and to do this we’re gonna go back in I’m too when I was in the classroom my students were reading a book about animals and one particular student who loved animals and knew everything about them kept asking me very simple questions like mr. Chris is this a monkey even it would point to a giraffe mr. Chris is this a giraffe and this continued through the whole lesson my frustration was boiling and boiling and I was thinking why is the student asking me question is that he knows the answer to then I realized this student was trying to connect with me he might not have the skill set to connect in a way which I consider typical but him asking a question is his way of reaching out and I was shutting him down we have to show interest in what our students are saying if we do that they’ll be much more likely to listen to us and they’ll be much more likely to allow us to push them out of their comfort zone which will then allow them to grow so that’s it that’s all of the rules I’m going to put them down below and you can copy and paste them I advise you print them out you put them on your bulletin board at work on your fridge at home just take a few seconds every day to read through them and be mindful about it if we all take these rules and act on them we’re going to teach our children that these are the norms then when our children grow up and become adults that will be the way they carry themselves and after a few generations things will be changed but it will only change if we take action today