Influencing Inclusion After COVID-19

Greetings Friends,

How are you holding up during this very strange and scary time? I really want to know. I find I am so eager to hear from everyone I know and love that I can’t see in person right now. Are you finding that too? Are you reaching out to those you haven’t heard from recently? Reconnecting with extended family members? Maybe that’s some upside we are finding in this unusual moment in time.

As for me, all this talk of “distancing”- “social distancing” “physical distance” “distance learning” had me down. I am all about inclusion, and inclusion is about a sense of belonging and feeling connected to the community around you, and that’s hard right now. Whether it’s six feet or many miles between us, we are all having to find new ways to feel connected to our communities.

CONNECTING:

I’ve been trying to maintain my connection to the broader world of inclusion advocates by holding check-in calls. I want to know how my inclusion friends are doing, and how they are leading during this time. I’ve recorded the conversations (with their permission, of course!) for a project the KIT digital team is creating. More to come on that.

Last week I talked to research scientist Leanne Chucoskie about inclusive gaming,and Sam Drazin, founder of Changing Perspectives about bringing classroom social-emotional learning into the living room.

This week I spoke to my friend Tim Villegas, an educator and inclusionist from Georgia (although a Southern California native), who runs the online publishing platform called Think Inclusive.

CHALLENGES:

Tim shared with me the challenges that special educators and parents are facing with providing school online. While everyone is doing their best to turn brick and mortar schools virtual, pretty much overnight, there are a lot of gaps. Access to learning is of primary importance, and that is exponentially more difficult to provide in a home learning environment. Recorded videos and worksheets do not work for all learners. In a classroom, skillful teachers are constantly adapting to both the academic and social-emotional needs of their students in real-time, which is also more difficult over a computer. Students with disabilities may be losing their modified curriculum or accommodations they receive in the classroom. Parents are the other half of the equation, but as my brother shared with me recently about homeschooling his two school-age children during COVID-19, “I wasn’t trained to be a teacher. I don’t know how to do this.”

HERE’S TO SHARING:

Tim has curated a comprehensive list of quality resources on his website. Sam is providing resources for parents and teachers on distance learning and social-emotional supports via his website. I encourage you to check them out and to share with anyone you know who needs some help figuring this all out.

Our KIT team is also proactively pushing out helpful information and educational tools for teachers and parents through our social media channels and emails. We’d love for you to share anything you find useful with your networks.

FEELING THE PASSION:

I’m feeling more connected to my inclusion community, and more passionate than ever about making sure that kids get what they need to thrive. I am motivated by our KIT Inclusionistas who are producing at a faster speed than ever before, in an effort to meet the increasing demand for support. And, I’m also starting to think about the recovery, and how as advocates we can use this time to influence more and better inclusion when the crisis is over.

For those of you who are celebrating, I wish you a very happy, safe, and healthy Passover and Easter holiday.

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