Advocating and IEPs with Rebecca A. Weiner, M.Ed.

Rebecca A. Weiner, M.Ed. is back with us today in this powerful episode about inclusion, advocacy and self-advocacy, IEPs and other learning plans and goal-setting, and the power of curiosity (seriously, she has an amazing story about a classroom transformation all thanks to the power of “so what” and “what-if” in one of the classrooms she has collaborated with).  Molly brings in real-life questions and experiences from a parent perspective and Angela speaks about poverty, justice, and access—or lack of it—to resources which make it easier or exponentially more difficult for students, parents, teachers, staff members, schools, and the community to have what they need for education to be meaningful and effective.

Social StoriesTM and Easter Eggs

Easter…it’s not always bunnies, candy, and fun. Many children struggle with this social custom which some folks think is completely normal.  The child “knows that you have candy, and you’ve intentionally hidden it from him. And then you invited these traitorous others to steal it from him…” (6:12). That is a completely valid perspective and seeing the world through that lens opens up the possibilities for the entire family to enjoy their time together. 

Social Stories can be used in a variety of ways to support learners without the focus being on changing their behavior, but rather supporting them in meeting their own, self-determined goals! Let’s face it, these can help everyone. We wonder what might happen if ALL of us used perspective shifts and social stories to support reaching our own goals?

“Inclusion is a Culture, Not a Placement”

Oof! That’s powerful, right? This—”Inclusion is a Culture, Not a Placement!”—is what Rebecca said when Molly asked her to discuss classroom and school inclusion and how students continue to get sent home for silly reasons showing that “inclusion” is not actually happening (19:54).  Rebecca explains that often “inclusion” turns into isolating issues and making them the child’s issue rather than what it is supposed to be—”troubleshoot[ing] strategies in real time with actual students [which] is transformational to their teaching.” And Angela adds, “when we talk inclusion…we’re talking justice” (22:07).

Red Lines and Tax Dollars – What’s that got to do with it?

It has so much to do with it. While some folks have access to consultants, and therapy, and plenty of resources to support their advocacy efforts, many people do not. Angela says, “Let’s be honest, the resources are not there” (40:07). She points out that access to resources dramatically increases people’s ability to advocate for themselves and others and that it is the school’s responsibility to make sure that every member of their community has access to those resources. 

Rebecca continues, “Can I just drop a “subtle” hint that, mayhaps, if we stopped attaching school funding to areas where people live and just spread it out equally, those resources would be there” (41:26). She also shares the book “The Sum of Us” by Heather McGhee which explains how redlining and racism in general is harmful to the very people who use it as a method to give themselves opportunity at the expense of others. Of course, it is at their own expense, too. Too bad they can’t see it!

Transitions AGAIN

Along with the season of IEPs and state assessments comes the season for transition out of the school year, into summer break, then back to school in a couple of months. And not all teachers, staff, and students are counting down the days. This can be a major disruption in routine and a very stressful experience. “There are all of these countdowns and rituals and graduations and then a cliff, you fall off into nothing” (Rebecca, 58:44). Molly brings up a great idea, “You could do that jumpstart at the end instead of the beginning? Or do both… (1:01:50).


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