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Peer Awareness and Understanding in Inclusive Classrooms (Webinar 2) - Text Transcript

As I said, I'm thrilled to invite back Sam Drazin, to present for us today on the how to do, we talked about the why and the what last time.

So today's presentation is more focused on the how, and I know that everyone was really excited to get to that part.

So I'm looking forward to some of those strategies and that information today.

Sam is a nationally recognized educator and change maker.

He's Founder and Executive Director of Changing Perspectives.

And the mission of Changing Perspectives is to strengthen school communities through social-emotional learning, disability awareness, empathy development, and inclusion.

Sam was born with Treacher Collins syndrome, a rare congenital disorder resulting in both facial anomaly and hearing loss.

His experiences, both as a student with a disability, and as a teacher working in an inclusive classroom, helped him recognize the importance of supporting students in developing the essential life and relationship skills that underpin equity, inclusion, social change.

The students and the educators with whom we work are certainly a constant inspiration for Sam.

And I know that many of us feel the same way about the individuals that we work with.

So we're definitely on the same page when it comes to that.

And so I'm thrilled to welcome Sam back to share his experience and his expertise on this topic with us today.

So, Sam, you're on.

Good afternoon.

Thank you, Shelley, so much for the introduction, and I'm thrilled to be back here in part two.

I left part one, what was that, last week or the week before?

Feeling just really energized and just reading everybody's comments on the Jamboard, at the end of the presentation last week, really got me excited about how we can move forward, as this kind of cohort or this group of participants, in tanking peer awareness and putting into action to cultivate and create more authentically inclusive learning environments for all students.

So, as Shelley said, this is part two, this is the how, this is what.

As a former teacher myself, I think this is what teachers get really excited about, but I do think it was important that we took the time in the previous session to go through the what and the why.

As Shelley said, my name is Sam Drazin.

I am a former elementary educator.

I left the a classroom about eight years ago to embark on this work.

I now am a nationally recognized school presenter.

I present to parents, I present to students.

I present to administrators, I present to educators.

If they're involved in a school community, if they're a school community stakeholder, I've probably presented to them in one way or another.

I'm also the Founder and Executive Director of Changing Perspectives.

As I said last time, and I'll reiterate again, I hope that this isn't the end of my relationship with all of you, but rather just the beginning.

I put my email address up here on the screen, and I invite you to reach out to me at any point following today's presentation.

If there are additional resources I could support you with, if you're interested in taking this conversation further or talking more specifically about bringing peer awareness and inclusive action to the learning community school district that you're involved with.

Changing Perspectives, we are a educational, we're here in the United States.

So our designation here in the States is a 501 C3 nonprofit organization.

And, as Shelley explained, we really focus on supporting school communities through social-emotional learning, and creating more equitable and inclusive learning environments with really a lens and a focus on individuals with disabilities.

We do our work in three ways.

We offer schools access to our social-emotional learning, as well as disability awareness or peer awareness curriculum.

We provide schools with professional development trainings, like this one this afternoon.

We also work with schools to engage families and parents in family and parent engagement workshops.

Website is up here on the screen, as well as I encourage you to follow and like us on social media platforms to really stay up to date on what we're doing.

Now that you know a little bit more about me and what I bring to this work, from both a personal and a professional lens, I wanna go over the agenda and the goals for today.

I wanna start with just one slide to re-remind us all what is peer awareness, what is this concept that we're talking about.

Then, the rest of this afternoon, I really kind of want to, I don't wanna say bombard you with, but I am gonna throw a lot of strategies at you in terms of ways that you can take peer awareness and put it into action.

And I say kind of bombard you or throw a lot of strategies at you because I recognize that each one of us on this call has a different role and responsibility in our schools or systems we work in.

And I also am aware that different schools have different constraints.

Each school is its own microcosm, and each school has scheduling constraints or budgetary constraints or bandwidth constraints.

So I wanna throw as many ideas at you as possible this afternoon, so you can really let them marinate and you can really consider what are the ways that you can take this concept of peer awareness and start to implement it, whether it's this school year, or maybe even thinking proactively for next school year, but implement it in a way that's going to fit the structure of the system you're working in.

'Cause what I find is that it's much more effective that way than kind of working against the structure that you're there.

So we're gonna talk a little bit about how books and videos could be a great way to introduce peer awareness, talk about the power of storytelling, and then really wrap up with some general peer awareness action takeaways, some kind of big ideas or concepts.

As Shelley said in the intro, I really want this to be as interactive as possible.

I am totally A-okay with kind of an ongoing secondary conversation happening in the chat.

So, as I share things, if you have an aha moment, if you have a story that you wanna share, something that really resonates with you, feel free to throw it in the chat.

And then Shelley will also be managing the Q&A box as well.

So, if you have any questions about what I share, please put those in the Q&A box.

I will stop my presentation periodically throughout the next few slides and check in and see if there are any questions.

So, with that, if we wanna get the conversation going in the chat, if you don't mind just taking a moment introducing yourself in the chat and maybe one thing that you are, now that I've kind of given you a preview of what we're gonna talk about, introduce yourself, where you're from, what your role is, and maybe one thing that you're really hoping to get out of today's presentation when it comes to peer awareness in action.

So I'll stop talking, give folks about 30, 40 seconds to put that in the chat.

Thanks, Mary, for getting us started.

Sometimes it just takes that one person to get that conversation going.

So, again, name, your role, maybe where you're from, what you're really hoping to get out of today.

Thanks, Julie.

Feel free to keep sharing those ideas and those introductions as I move on to the next slide, but it's great to see kind of the diversity of the people we have here today.

I mean, kind of what folks are hoping to get out of today's presentation?

So let's first kind of, this is a slide from the last presentation, just a quick definition of what we're talking about with peer awareness.

And one of the things that I will reiterate again that I stated last time is that, in order for peer awareness to be successful in schools, I highly, highly suggest and recommend that your school community comes up with a understood definition by all stakeholders about what we're talking about.

We can't implement something if we don't fully clearly define and understand what we're trying to implement.

So this is one definition that I came up with that I like, which is, peer awareness is the opportunity to engage in safe and vulnerable learning opportunities, to gain empathy and understanding of how others experience the world.

There's lots and lots of different ways that we can take peer awareness and put it into action.

And, as I mentioned last time, peer awareness is an opportunity to strengthen the connections between students with and without disabilities.

It's a way for students with disabilities to increase their own self confidence, understanding of who they are, their ability to be greater self advocates.

It's the opportunity for students without a specific disability to become more of the inclusive change makers of tomorrow, better understand their classmates, and how maybe they can collaborate and communicate in more effective ways.

And it's an opportunity for all teachers to better understand the lived experience of all students.

So before we get into some specific strategies, what I wanna do is talk a little bit about this model that I call the "ladder of risk."

We need to recognize that implementing peer awareness strategies or activities or actions is very, very risky.

It can kind of make people feel very vulnerable.

Sometimes parents of students with disabilities struggle with it.

Sometimes teachers struggle with it.

All students might struggle with it.

So we just need to recognize this is a risky topic.

We're talking about disabilities in an open and honest way, which is something we're not conditioned to do.

And, actually, our society kind of conditions us to do the opposite.

Don't look at it, don't talk about it.

Just go on your way.

So when we start thinking about implementing peer awareness, we really wanna ensure that we're doing it in a scaffolded and in intentional way, just like we teach phonics for reading, just like we teach number sense for math.

For our core subjects, we do things in a certain way for a reason, and we wanna do peer awareness in the same way.

We don't wanna just be like, "oh, we're just having a guest speaker, great."

We really wanna think about how is this built into the year long scaffolded and intentional programming of a school.

So I like to visualize this like a ladder, 'cause I think it's a nice visual.

And at the bottom of the ladder, we're starting with low risk activities.

And toward the top of the ladder, we're getting to higher risk activities.

And when we think about this ladder, you can then kind of almost imagine a line in the middle of the ladder.

And on one side of the ladder, we have student risk.

And on the other side of the ladder, we have teacher risk.

So what do I mean by that?

Well, by teacher risk, I'm thinking about activities and implementation strategies that don't take a lot of planning time.

Teachers are already overwhelmed.

So, if we ask them to take on yet one more thing that requires a lot of planning time, they're already gonna be put off by it.

So we need to think about what are opportunities which don't require a lot of planning time.

We also know that the school day is pretty short and there's a lot that teachers are asked to do.

So, again, how do we think about how does peer awareness fit into what we're already doing rather than asking for more time or time to take away from something else to dedicate to this.

It's about integration, seamless integration.

From the student side of things, we recognized that talking about some of these concepts could be very vulnerable or very risky for students.

So one of the things that I suggest, is low risk, is starting by talking about disabilities that are not prevalent in your school community.

And then higher risk is talking about those disabilities that are prevalent in your community, in your school.

So, again, we wanna think about, when we roll things out, how are we considering what is the risk level for a teacher and what is the risk level for a student, and how do we build a pipeline, how do we build a curricula over the course of an academic year that starts with low risk and slowly moves up to higher risk.

So the first kind of concept that I want to talk about or strategy is what I would call a low risk strategy, using children's literature to support peer awareness.

Now, over the course of the last probably two to four years, we've seen a huge uptick in the amount of books, picture books and chapter books that have been published that include spotlight or feature characters with various disabilities.

And children's literature is a great low risk way to start implementing peer awareness in your school.

Now, why is it low risk?

Well, one of the reasons that it's low risk is, it doesn't take a lot of planning time.

It's finding a list of books and getting the book and reading the book and maybe having a discussion or having kids do a written response to it.

You don't need to get worksheets.

You don't need to have art materials.

You don't need to coordinate an assembly in an auditorium.

It's very, very low risk.

And they're reading in school, anyway.

So, again, we're not adding to what we're already doing, but we're being more intentional.

We're thinking about this in a more intentional way.

Children's literature is accessible for all ages.

They are books for our youngest learners and there's books for our oldest learners.

So no learner is absent of the opportunity to engage in peer awareness through children's literature.

So it creates some equity across an entire school district or school site where all students could have access to the opportunity to read or listen to a book being read to them that includes a character with a disability.

Number two, sparks meaningful conversations in a safe way.

What I love about using literature is that the conversation that we're having after the book or during, or the activity or the response that students are asked to complete after or during the book is focusing on characters in a book, fictional characters, rather than themselves or people they know.

It's much easier and less vulnerable to talk about a third party or a fictional character than it is to talk about yourself or your neighbor or your friend or your cousin.

So using children's literature is low risk from the teacher's standpoint, 'cause there's not a lot of prep time, and low risk from the student's standpoint, 'cause we're not talking about ourselves or who's in our classroom or who's in our school.

We're talking about someone in a book.

It's a great way to build the foundation for those higher risk conversations.

And lastly, in the last presentation, I talked a little bit about visible versus invisible disabilities.

The nice thing about children's literature is that there are books that spotlight characters with both visible, as well as invisible disabilities.

There's books that spotlight characters that were born with a disability versus acquired a disability later in life.

So it really gives you the opportunity to find a story that is really gonna hone in on the type of peer awareness that you are hoping to build greater empathy and understanding for.

So, Changing Perspectives, the nonprofit for which I run, we have a list of books categorized by disability, that I'd be happy to share an abbreviated version with anyone who's interested.

Shelley, if you don't mind popping my email address in the chat again, that would be great.

But just a few books, just to give you a sense of the real plethora and variety of books that are out there right now.

So "The Pirate of Kindergarten" is a picture book about a young girl who's in kindergarten, who has a visual impairment.

"How Katie Got a Voice" is about a character who uses an AAC device.

And when Katie gets that device, it opens up her world for social interaction.

Couple picture books to spotlight, "The Thing About Georgie" is the story of a boy who has dwarfism.

"Fish in a Tree," the story about a middle school student who has dyslexia and other learning disabilities.

"Just My Luck" is the story of a character who lives on the autism spectrum.

"The Alphabet War," a picture book about a young boy with dyslexia and learning challenges.

And "Wonder," the story of a character with a hearing loss and facial difference.

And these are just some.

There are so many books out there.

One of my interpersonal favorites is "Out of My Mind," which is the story of a middle school girl who uses an AAC device, has cerebral palsy, but makes her middle school quiz bowl team and takes them to the championships.

So that's a great one.

There's also a series of picture books by the author Barbara Esham, who all focus on learning disability.

And if there's other books that you found, that you know of, feel free to drop them in the chat, and have that conversation going, as I'm sharing, of other resources.

But I guarantee, if you go into Amazon or another website in your community and you start looking up some of these titles, you're gonna find a lot of books like these.

So, in summary, using children's literature is a great way to really spark conversation, start building an opportunity to engage in peer awareness.

It's a way that it doesn't take a lot of teacher prep time.

It's low risk for students.

It's something that you can easily integrate in.

And maybe you start really small.

In your school maybe, if you are in a middle or a high school, you could do a reading challenge at the beginning of the year, and create a list of books that were encouraging students to read.

And they're all books that include characters with disabilities.

And maybe each time a student reads a book, they get a coupon and it goes into a hat, and then they win like a $5 gift card or something.

At the elementary level, do something like read aloud Thursday.

So, every Thursday for a certain series of weeks, at the beginning of the day or another time, we ask all teachers to do a read aloud.

And you can give teachers a list of books or work with your school librarian to curate a separate shelf in the school library that has all these books, so it's really easy access for teachers.

Just pause there, see if there's any questions in the chat or any thoughts in the comment box here about using books and children's literature as a strategy.

Not seeing anything.

So we'll move on to the next part, which is using videos to foster peer awareness.

Now, just like books, videos, again, if you go back to the visual of the ladder of risk, videos are gonna be towards the bottom of the ladder, 'cause, again, it doesn't take a lot of prep time.

All we have to do is give teachers a link and they have to button, and they're short, typically.

So it doesn't take a lot of time.

And lastly, just like the books, we're asking students to then reflect, write about, talk about, think about characters on a screen that they don't necessarily have a connection to, rather than themselves or their peer group or their friends or their family.

So, to get us started, I wanna show you just one example of a video that I would categorize as a video that could be used for peer awareness.

So this is a short video, I think it's about three minutes long.

It's about a young man by the name of Ezra Frech, who is sharing about his physical disability.

So, as you watch this, I encourage you just to think about how you might be able to use a video like this or how you might be able to encourage others to use a video like this in kind of what the conversation or what the outcome, positive outcome might be in terms of students in the class developing a greater understanding and awareness of others with varying abilities and/or disabilities.

How many legs do I have?

I don't actually know the answer to that.

I've had lots of legs.

I get about maybe one every year.

And when I was younger, I was getting on, like, twice every year, and it was, you grow half an inch, you get another leg, you grow an inch, you get another leg.

So, now that the mechanics are getting better and they can raise my leg and make it taller to how tall I am, but I get lots of legs.

I have more than I can count.

Hi, my name's Ezra Frech.

I have two fingers on my left hand and I have a shorter leg, and I use a prosthetic leg to play sports.

I'm nine years old and I'm the starting QB for my school football team.

When I play sports, it makes me feel at home and I'm not thinking about being different.

And I feel like I'm one of the guys.

But I set seven national records in track and field at the National Junior Disability Championships in Iowa.

It felt really good to me that I made history in the nationals, and I love competing.

So it was really fun.

I'm here to talk to kids and parents about being different and that being different is okay.

I really like it when kids actually walk up to me and ask me what happened to your leg or were you born like that.

Sometimes I would ask God to gimme another leg.

To stay positive, you have to think of all the good things.

Think of what you have instead of what you don't have.

He needs his parents to empathize with him and feel his pain with him and say, "I get it, it is hard. It's hard being different. It's hard being stared at."

And for us not to say, oh, no, it's gonna be okay, that we can feel the pain with him, but let's talk about all the great things.

I wanna be treated normal.

If I can do the things that normal kids can do, I'd like to be treated normal.

I was born with a shorter leg and they gave me this prosthetic leg that helped me run and do stuff.

I have these two fingers on my left hand and I used to only have one finger and they added a toe to this, and now I can pick up stuff and I can play basketball and football and all these sports because of it.

I think your job as a parent is to get help your child get the most out of their life, whatever that was destined to be.

He's always felt like he was an athlete first.

Doesn't think of himself as disabled.

So, it just reinforces who he thinks he is.

What I wanna tell kids in life is that you can do anything you want to.

You can dream it, you can hope it, or you can make it happen.

I choose, in my life, to make it happen.

That's the one way you're gonna get it.

You dream it, you're like, "oh, I wish that, hope it. Oh, I hope that happened."

But if you make it happen, you go out there and show them what you can do.

So I hope you enjoyed that short video.

And, hopefully, as you watched it, it gave you maybe some inspiration or some thoughts about how you might be able to use, whether it's this video or other videos like this to promote peer awareness in your school communities.

So this was Sports Illustrated.

They have a great YouTube channel with some good videos.

And I don't know in Canada, I know in the States, the US Paralympics team has a great YouTube channel.

But what I found is that there's more and more of these videos being made, where individuals with varying abilities and/or disabilities are sharing their story.

One strategy that could be really helpful is create like a shared Google spreadsheet or shared Google doc amongst the faculty within a given school site.

And then that's where people put links to videos as they find them.

'Cause I would say the most time intensive piece of utilizing videos to promote peer awareness is finding the videos.

So, if you can create one ongoing doc or spreadsheet or depository that teachers are collectively contributing to, you can make it really easy, and you could even have headings for different disability categories.

So then when a teacher is ready to utilize a video to support peer awareness, they have a easy place to go to.

So they don't have to stay up till 1:00 AM, like I did when I was a teacher, trying to find resources.

And at Changing Perspectives, we also have some great links to videos that I'm happy to share with anyone, if anyone wants to reach out to me.

So I would say, in summary, we've got the books, the videos, those are low risk, those bottom of the ladder, because they don't take a lot of planning time for teachers.

They're easy to implement.

You're talking about characters or people that are fictional in a video and in a book rather than ourselves.

And it allows us to build that trust.

It allows us to build the comfort in having these conversations.

Now, a few other videos, more than just YouTube.

There's tons of stuff on YouTube or other like websites, but a few other videos, I think peer awareness isn't necessarily always for our students.

It's also for us too.

As adults, we need to gain our own sense of peer awareness.

And we need to gain our own comfort level in facilitating these conversations.

So a few videos and TV shows.

Again, these are all from the States.

I don't know, Canada might have some equivalent ones, but I think these are all pretty available on most streaming platforms these days.

So CODA just won a whole bunch of awards here.

CODA stands for Child of Deaf Adult.

And it's a story of a family, where all three out of the four members are deaf and use sign language.

And one in the member is the CODA, the child who speaks, and how she has to navigate being kind of the translator for her family and how she balances that role with her own life.

Atypical is a Netflix Original series, and it kind of shares the story of a young man who lives on the autism spectrum.

And what's really kind of cool about that like a TV series, is that you kind of have the opportunity to kind of crawl into the young man's skin and really perceive the world the way he perceives the world, both from sight and sound and emotions.

And I've seen some, definitely, middle and high school showing clips of that.

Maybe not a whole episode, but, definitely, there's some really, really valuable clips in there that I think can spark some meaningful conversations and support peer awareness development.

Best Summer Ever, I believe that's on Amazon Prime, that came out a couple summers ago.

I really like it.

It's a movie that follows a group of kids that go to summer camp, but what's really cool about is, all the actors and actresses have varying abilities and/or disability, some visible, some invisible, but in the movie, they never draw attention to the disability.

So the disability is just kind of the norm, but it's great.

It's kind of teenage romance, but they all have their own abilities and/or disabilities.

Speechless was a sitcom, a couple years ago, on ABC.

Mindy Diver was one of the main characters.

And it's the story of a family.

Their eldest son has cerebral palsy and is trying to navigate school and they're, as a family, trying to figure it all out.

And the character played by Mindy is a strong advocate, in somewhat kind of hysterical ways, for inclusion and acceptance of her son.

So those are just a few videos, movies that are out there.

Again, I encourage you to share resources with your colleagues, maybe throw a virtual screening party.

Another great film is the "R Word," which I should have included on the slide, and I didn't.

If you Google "the R Word film," you'll find it.

They have a couple versions, one for older kids and one for younger kids, more of a documentary kind of talking about the historical impacts of the R Word and kind of where it is today.

So lots and lots of ways, again, that videos, whether that's a full presentation video, or just a short two, three minute clip, like I showed you about Ezra Frech, can be used, again, in a low risk way to really build that peer awareness.

So before I jump into the next strategy, which is the power of storytelling, just wanna check the chat, see if anyone has dropped anything in there around other books or videos that they can think of, and also the Q&A.

I'll just pause for a second.

Give folks a second if they have any questions around using books or videos as a way to implement peer awareness.

All right, I'm not seeing anything, but feel free to drop them in if you, oh, here we go.


Thanks, Julian.

Yeah, and that's the other thing, Julian makes a great point, a lot of these books now, since COVID, you can find a lot of these books being read on YouTube by other teachers.

Another fun thing to do is kind of work with your colleagues and take turns reading different books and recording them, and then you could send those links around to other classrooms, that could be kind of fun as well.

So, storytelling can be an incredibly powerful way to develop peer awareness, whether that's empowering as student in your school to share their story with their classmates, or whether that's bringing in a guest speaker to share their story with students.

Couple things to think about around guest speakers and storytelling.

One, when guest speakers or students share, it's about sharing personal stories of a life with a disability.

I find that the personal connections are the most important.

And, oftentimes, when someone shares their story with students, although the conversation starts out by talking about differences, I find that it often ends by talking about or making connections for how we're the same.

Storytelling is really the core to building awareness.

It's about learning and asking questions and expressing curiosity about others and how they experience the world, their challenges, their needs, the assistive technologies that they might use.

If you're going to bring in speakers or even speakers within your school, again, as we try to help students get a broader lens or spectrum about disability, we wanna make sure that we're bringing speakers in who represent both individuals with visible, as well as individuals with invisible disabilities.

And I would even like piggyback on that to say, individuals who were born with a disability, so it's a part of their identity from birth, versus individuals who acquire a disability later in life and are trying to figure out how to adapt from maybe an accident or an illness with a newfound disability.

Regardless of if you're bringing in a guest speaker or cultivating a student to speak in your school, it is so, so, so essential that you do one of two things.

One, that you ensure that you are doing pre-learning prior to the presentation.

And, two, that students have an opportunity to reflect after they listen to the story.

I, myself, with my disability, travel around in-person and virtually, and do presentations where I am the guest speaker, here I am in the picture.

And it is so disheartening to me when I go to a school and students are filing into the assembly hall or the auditorium, and I say to them, "do you know why you're here?" And they go, "no idea."

My presentation is not going to have a very big impact on them if they don't know why they're there.

So we have to make sure that we are taking the time, dedicating the time, curating resources, and making sure that teachers are held accountable to do some pre-learning, some preliminary conversations before they listen to the speaker.

If you're bringing in a speaker from the outside, I suggest asking the speaker "what are some things that we could do prior to your presentation that's gonna elevate the impact?"

And, likewise, afterwards, they need to reflect.

Again, I can't tell you how many times I've gone to a school and I've given a presentation.

And at the end of the presentation, I turn to the teacher who helped organize the it about, all right, what are the next steps?

What are the directions now?

And the teacher says, "okay, well, now, it's time for everybody to go take a math test."

I'm like, no, no, no, no, no, no, you need to make sure that you're reflecting, digesting, thinking about how does this information inspire you to be a change maker for inclusion, both in your school community, in your neighborhood community, and beyond.

And, again, asking the individual who's speaking, "what are some reflection questions?"

They should be able to give you some information.

Now, in terms of cultivating a speaker within your school could be incredibly powerful to have a student be the presenter.

But, again, if we think about that ladder of risk, it's much higher risk to have a student in your school share, than it is to bring in someone from the outside and share, who they don't know.

So, if we think about having students in our school share, I think it's incredibly powerful, but there's a few things to consider.

One, we need to give that student what I call voice and choice.

We need to ask them, "who do you wanna present to?"

They might say, "well, I just wanna present to a few friends over lunch to begin with."

They might say, "I just wanna present to my teachers at a staff meeting," or they might say, "I wanna present to the whole school," but we need to make sure we give them some voice and choice.

We also may need to give that student like an outline.

I like doing just an basic Google slides outline, because we want the student to focus, not just on their disability, but who they are, who they are as a person.

I kind of like to imagine that each one of us is made up of what I like to call an identity puzzle.

If we envision that our body is made up of different puzzle pieces and each piece is a part of our identity, and our disability or student's disability or difference is just one piece of their identity puzzle.

So, if they're sharing about their disability to their school in an assembly format, we need to make sure that they're not just sharing about that one piece about who they are, but they're sharing about other pieces of their identity as well.

So a few takeaways, then I'm gonna pause and give you some time to reflect.

Then we're gonna come back together.

So a few takeaways.

Peer awareness in action is not simply a one and done, okay?

Having a guest speaker come in, doing Autism Awareness Day, doing a disability fair, yes, those are great things to do, but that is not really peer awareness.

That's one and done.

Those are one hit wonders.

We wanna think about how do these events, if you're going to choose to do events, how do these events fit in to a bigger curriculum around peer awareness?

Secondly, this goes back to that ladder of risk, we need to be implementing peer awareness strategies, whether those are books, whether those are videos, whether those are guest speakers.

And I'm gonna talk in a little bit about some specific curriculum as well.

We need to make sure that this work fits into a scaffolded and an intentional approach.

We wanna go from low risk to high risk.

We wanna make sure, if we're doing an awareness event, if we're bringing in a guest speaker, we're doing pre-learning, we're doing reflection efforts.

Lastly, another thing that I haven't touched upon yet, which is really, really important, is that we need to make sure that we're engaging all of the stakeholders within our school community.

So, if you think about that previous training we did, and if that was recorded, and Shelley can share that recording with you if you missed it, we need to make sure that all the teachers know what peer awareness is.

We need to make sure that all of the students understand why are we doing this.

And we also need to engage our families and our parents to make sure that families and parents understand the what and why behind it and how they can continue to foster an understanding of peer awareness at home.

Oftentimes parents will say to me, "when we're in a grocery store and there's someone with a disability or a difference, I don't know what to do."

We need to make sure that we're giving parents tools and strategies and we're engaging them in this work.

So think about the roles in which parents can play in this work.

So, with that, I wanna take a little breather and give you some time to reflect on what I've been sharing about.

So, on the next slide here, I've got three Jamboard reflection questions.

And in a minute, after I go over the direction, Shelley is gonna put a link in the chat to the Jamboard.

A Jamboard is kind of like an interactive whiteboard where you can push your thoughts on digital sticky notes.

So the three questions that I'd like you to kind of reflect upon, as I've gone through today's presentation, is thinking about your role or what control you have in your school site, what ways could you see implementing peer awareness in your school?

And given that, it's already end of April.

Let's think about next year, let's think about being proactive.

So what are some ways, whether that's using books, whether that's using videos, guest speakers, curriculum, which we'll talk more about in a minute, but think about all the strategies I've shared today and really think about what's doable in your school.

One of the things that I found instead, if we put two much on people, they're scared by doing this.

So it's all about little bite size chunks.

How do you anticipate your colleagues responding to peer awareness and peer awareness initiatives that you might choose to implement?

So what ways could you do it?

How do you anticipate people responding, your colleagues responding?

And, lastly, how would you measure the effectiveness of peer awareness initiatives in your learning community?

So, for example, if you say you're gonna do books and videos, what's the outcome?

How are you going to evaluate the success of that?

What are the goals?

What are the objectives that you're hoping to achieve in terms of the school community, the school climate?

What students with disabilities feel about themselves?

How students without disabilities can be agents for change for a more inclusive school community?

So, with that, let me just show you what the Jamboard looks like to make sure everyone understands what we're going to do.

So give me one moment here.

All right, so, in a moment, Shelley is going to put a link in the chat to a Jamboard.

And this is what the Jamboard looks like.

There is one question on each page.

So, up here at the top, you can change the pages.

So, what ways could you see?

Over here, if you click sticky note, this will pop up.

You can choose your color to make it fun.

Type in your thought here, of ways you could implement this work in your school.

And then you click save.

And it will add it to the Jamboard.

Then you can click next and go to the next question, and next and go to the next question.

If you are sitting with others from your school site right now, and you wanna just work on this together, that's fine.

If you wanna work on it independently, that's fine as well.

We'll give ourselves about 10 minutes to work on this, just to kind of start jotting down our thoughts.

So, Shelley, if you wanna throw that link in the chat, that would be great.

We will take the next 10 minutes to work on reflecting.

And I already see people popping in, which is super exciting.

I might go in and rearrange the sticky notes just to organize them a little bit, make them a little bigger so everyone can see 'em, and then we'll come back together.

All right, we'll come back together.

Again, if you're jotting down thoughts, I don't wanna interrupt you, keep them going.

Great, so what I'm gonna do is screen share again, and I'm gonna go through the Jamboard so we can kind of look at it together and really start to reflect.

Again, if you have other thoughts or questions, throw them in the chat or the Q&A box.

All right, so, the first question that we ask folks to reflect on, what are ways that you could see implementing peer awareness specifically in your school for next year?

Really thinking about the role you play at your school, and maybe what power you have to to do certain things.

So, few things that come to mind.

I love the idea of doing something monthly.

So it isn't overwhelming.

We're not asking folks to do things every day or every week, but maybe it's once a month we ask folks to do a thing.

A student and parent caregiver panels, it reminded me, I did a program actually out in Los Angeles a few years back, where one of the things we did is we did a panel discussion of parents, but they were all parents of students with varying abilities and/or disabilities.

And they were sharing their experience as being a parent with a child with a disability.

And it was really, really well received.

So that's a great idea.

I see a lot about bringing parents in and sharing the parent experience.

So valuable.

Suggesting resources and making suggestions for how to incorporate, yeah.

It's all about looking for ways to incorporate in.

It's much easier to do.

I like the idea of at a staff meeting.

If you can get some time, kind of explain this.

I'm also happy to share any of the slide decks from both this presentation and the previous one.

So, if you want any of the slides, let me know, they're all Google.

So I'm happy just to share them with you.

Working individually with students to help them create their own stories could be incredibly powerful, could be powerful for everybody involved in the process.

Sometimes the hardest piece there is to get parent buy-in.

But what I found is that parents are pushing back in resistance.

It usually has something to do within parent's heart than it does with you or the student.

And then I think sometimes parents worry that if their child shares about his or her disability with their classmates, that'll be perceived as bait for teasing.

But in my experience, it rather is perceived as a sign of bravery or courage.

Yep, the books, the videos, podcasts are great.

But, again, the more that you, or you can create maybe a team in your school that can help curate these resources and make them easily accessible.

I found the higher chance or likelihood that teachers are gonna latch on and do it.

So over here how do we anticipate our colleagues responding?

I think this was very interesting to kind of see what you all were writing down.

This one, yeah.

As much as you can get administrative, whether that's school level or district level, or however your administrative structure works, as much as you can get administrative support for this, the better, Because teachers really need to understand the school values this from the top down.

Very, very important.

I'm glad that so many folks here are saying that they think teachers would be kind of calling to be 100% on board, if they don't have to do the planning and the prep.

And that is really important.

Grateful, appreciative, gratitude.

Yeah, it seems like, overwhelmingly, the folks that are here today on today's webinar are feeling like their colleagues are gonna respond positively to this, as long as they're given those low risk, pre-made resources ready to go.

So it's always important to consider why are we doing this, what's the outcome, how are we gonna measure effectiveness of our work.

And it's interesting here, I'm seeing a lot of kind of different responses on this page.

Let's kind of go through it.

Feedback from students who participate, 100%.

Take the time to do some surveys after and really think about the questions that are kind of inner reflection, outward reflection, and action.

'Cause what could be kind of hard with this work is, we're looking to quantify things that are not always quantifiable.

We're looking to quantify a change in mindset, a change in empathy understanding.

And then we're trying to look for behavioral shifts.

We want students to be more inclusive.

So when we think about gathering feedback, just really think about like what type of feedback are you looking for.

What's gonna be most important for you in your school community?

So, yeah, it could be surveys.

It could also be kind of anecdotal feedback.

Yep, speaking with families too, getting their input.

If people came, very important.

We need people to come to an event or participate in this.

Yeah, you could do some sort of challenge where you try to, students submit a name of someone who they witness doing an active inclusion.

I think this is really important here, this orange one.

Imma make it a little bit bigger.

Around taking ownership of peer awareness initiatives.

Folks really need to embody this.

They need to take ownership of an, they need to feel like they a have a direct role in this work.

Yeah, and I think this last orange one too.

If you're gonna invest the time and maybe the money and the bandwidth to put together resources, we need to ensure that people are using the resources.

So a lot to think about there.

Thanks everybody for taking the time to reflect, share your ideas on how you might be able to begin this next year, how you might perceive or expect or predict that your colleagues are gonna respond to this, whether that's positively or negatively, and then how you're gonna measure the outcomes.

What is your vision?

If you start doing peer awareness in September, how does that change the way your school looks like, feels like, and sounds like to be a more authentically inclusive learning community for all this time next year?

So, in just a minute, we'll kind of open it up to any other questions that folks have before we wrap up for this afternoon.

But the one piece that I also wanna mention is disability awareness or peer awareness curriculum resources.

I'll put the plug that Changing Perspectives does have our own peer awareness pre-K through high school curriculum, that's organized into eight categories of disability.

So you have the autonomy to select.

Happy to connect with anyone offline about that.

But there's lots of other resources out there as well.

One of the things that I would just really stress is, if you decide to go more of a curriculum route, a couple things to think of about.

One, is the curriculum designed in a way that gives educators the flexibility to, again, integrate it into what they're already doing or is it really designed where it has to be its own standalone thing?

Two, who is teaching the curriculum?

Sometimes I've found that there's great programs out there, but they're taught by people who don't work in the school, whether that's parent volunteers or outside agencies.

And that's great, but then it doesn't empower the teachers and the adults in the school to do it all the time.

And the student sometimes view it as, "oh, this is only important when so and so comes in," rather than making student feel like, no, this is important every day, all day here at our school.

The other thing that I would really stress is that, if you're going to kind of go through a curriculum route, and it's a little more scripted, we wanna make sure that you have the autonomy to select the order of the disabilities that you're focusing on.

Some curriculums I found, they kind of say, "okay, first graders are only gonna get curriculum on physical disabilities.

And second graders are only gonna get curriculum on visual impairments."

Peer awareness is kind of being responsive.

We have that ladder of risk, but we also wanna make sure that we are cultivating empathetic and inclusive leaders.

And the disabilities that you focus on do need to be somewhat relevant to the lived experience of your students.

So you wanna make sure that you have a curriculum that, not just gives you the flexibility on how to integrate it into your core curriculum and structures and schedules, but also gives you that flexibility to select the curricula, or select the disabilities that you wanna focus on at the right time, based on your own ladder of risk.

So just a few things to consider if you kind of start exploring or Googling peer awareness or disability awareness curriculum.

So, to recap.

This afternoon we've talked about a lot of different things and I hope that I was able to meet your goals around what you put in the chat in the beginning, of you were really hoping to take away from this work.

And so we talked a little bit recapping what is peer awareness from the last conversation, how peer awareness can be implemented and introduced using books and videos, we talked a little bit about the role that guest speakers and storytelling can play, we talked about the ladder of risk, those takeaways about it being done intentionally, not being a one and done, and engaging all of the stakeholders.

So I wanna thank everybody for your participation today, being here, listening, dropping things into the Jamboard and the chat.

And before we wrap up with any kind of closing remarks from Shelley, I just wanna give another moment for time and space for any comments, thoughts, aha moments, maybe something you're really excited about, jazzed about that you wanna throw in the chat or any other questions that you might have that you wanna drop in the Q&A box as well.

I do see a question in the Q&A around guest speakers, virtual versus in-person.

Any advice on the value of one over the other?

Or what are your thoughts, Sam?

Sure, yeah, I think both are effective.

I'd rather you do virtual, if that's your only option.

In an ideal world, in-person, I would argue, is definitely more effective.

If you're doing virtual, one of the things that I found now is, doing smaller groups and having kids on their own individual devices is oftentimes a little more intimate than the guest speaker being projected on the full screen.

And I know a lot of guest speakers, if they do it for a profession or a job, they usually charge by the day or by the hour.

And I think if they are doing it or if it works better for your school to do virtual, one of the things I would suggest asking guest speaker is, "are you flexible with how we use your time?"

Could you Zoom in for 20 minutes with one class, and Zoom in with another class for 20 minutes?

So rather than having to do one big assembly, where all the kids are in an auditorium, looking at one screen, is the guest speaker flexible to do smaller, little virtual workshops or breakout groups, in a sense?

I think that can be a little more effective.

Another thing that I might too is, if your guest speaker is flexible enough in a virtual environment, have them do the presentation or share their story, and then have the teacher in-person facilitate a conversation with students to come up with questions and then Zoom back in with the guest speaker.

Sometimes it could just be hard to manage, all right, this person gave this presentation, I need to unmute and ask your questions.

Sometimes if they can prep their questions after.

But, again, that takes a little more flexibility.

Great point.

Thank you for that.

Any other questions or thoughts?

I'm happy to keep the meeting open for a few more minutes.

If anyone is typing, certainly go ahead, but I'll just take this opportunity to say thanks so much.

Speaking of flexibility, Sam, as a presenter, I've certainly appreciated your flexibility and your willingness to work with us and to really focus and tailor your presentation in a way that's meaningful for the folks who would be part of this group and who may be potentially attending the presentation.

It's really amazing to have the opportunity to have that collaborative work throughout this process.

So thank you so much for that.

And thanks so much for the strategies.

I was waiting for this one to get to the strategies as well.

And I think that you've provided us with a lot of food for thought, some really great strategies, and strategies that are really manageable and can be easily incorporated into work that's already happening in the classrooms.

And I think that's key to making anything sustainable.

So thank you so much.

It's been a pleasure to meet you and a pleasure to have you join us.

And, hopefully, we'll have a chance to work together again.

Serving Children & Youth Who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing/Blind or Visually Impaired