Tomorrow Is Too Long to Wait for Inclusion

12 Ways to Think More Inclusively

12 Ways to Think More Inclusively

Embarking on self-improvement requires no celebratory facades. Many people treat a new year or turning a year older as reasons to set goals. Honestly though the reason does not matter. The desire to change for the better proves much more important. Becoming a more inclusive-minded person stands one way to improve. Who better than Think Inclusive then to help you think more inclusive?! Enjoy these 12 ways to think more inclusively.

The following lists only 12 ways to think more inclusive and does not intend to act as a “Top Ways” or “Best Ways” list. Items go in no particular order.

Acknowledge the Individual, Not the Diagnosis

A person becomes forever linked with their diagnosis but remember the person and diagnosis remain two separate entities. So you taught or tutored one autistic student before. That does not mean what spelled success with that one student will work with your next autistic student. Adjust your approach to the individual learner.

Tune into The Inclusive Class Podcast

Parent and teacher Nicole Eredics along with her co-host Terri Mauro produce a great weekly podcast on inclusion. Through their weekly dialogues you will continue to grow your knowledge. Make sure to take time and visit their show archive.

Work as a Team

Author and motivational speaker Brian King recently appeared on The G.I.M.P. (Gifted, Intelligent, Motivating, People) Show Podcast, a podcast for the special needs community hosted by Handicap This Productions’ Tim Wambach and Mike Berkson. During the appearance Brian King dished great insights on how parents can approach teachers to best facilitate teamwork. He also explained how both parents and teachers can learn from a student’s own resourcefulness. Listen by clicking the above link.

Read Books

Read books and not only textbooks! Spending time with memoirs by authors with disabilities can spark ideas. Getting perspective from a person with a disability that lived what you currently experience may cause you to stumble upon an idea otherwise gone unexplored. Plus you can always try to contact the author to get his or her advice on your specific situation. How many reply may surprise you!

Maintain Expectation Levels

While speaking about authors, one specifically shared some great thoughts on inclusion in the following Youtube video.

The way John W. Quinn (Someone Like Me: An Unlikely Story of Challenge and Triumph Over Cerebral Palsy) defines inclusion addresses a huge misconception. Inclusion involves lowering standards. If anything, that proves detrimental to the process! An interview I did with intervention specialist Kelsey Kimmel for The Mobility Resource demonstrated this in an educational setting. During the interview Kimmel described how by maintaining expectation levels, her students felt challenged, leaving them to reach new milestones academically.

Gain Experience

Can you find a better teacher than experience? Positioning yourself in situations to gain said experience will make you more inclusive-minded. Allow me to give you a personal example. I volunteer weekly at the Euclid Adult Activities Center, a Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities facility. Through my interactions with their clients there I gain experience working with individuals with intellectual disabilities. Simply put I know how to interact with such individuals now where before I admittedly would feel unsure.

Implement Multiple Mediums into Lesson Plans

Even individuals without IEPs learn differently. Some prefer visuals while others thrive off audio cues and others by writing. Combining multiple channels into one lesson makes lessons more inclusive for all.

Learn How Each Student Learns Best

A tip intervention specialist Anshawn Ivery mentioned when I interviewed him for The Mobility Resource will assist in formulating the most effective lesson plans. At the start to each school year he meets with his students to learn about them, asking questions like “What do you hope to get out of this class?” and “How do you learn best?” He suggested doing this for all students, not just ones with IEPs.

Encourage Common Interests

Inclusion starts with integrating students with disabilities into the general education classroom. However inclusion excels after a belonging environment emerges. Common interests help to lay a foundation for this. Seek extra-curricular activities which can bring common interests to the forefront. As a result you will find whatever differences exist between the student and her peers will fade to the background.

Hang Anti-Bullying Messages Around the Classroom

A belonging environment means a bully-free environment. Back when I interviewed anti-bullying speaker Tony Bartoli for Think Inclusive he advised hanging student made anti-bullying posters around the classroom. Such posters provide dual purpose. First they allow students to consume the anti-bullying message. Secondly, the posters constantly remind students to treat peers with respect.

Practice Social Situations

Many people take with ease the ability to navigate different social situations, albeit in the cafeteria at lunch or moving around the hallways before or after school. Certain disabilities can make what many take with ease extra challenging. Rehearsing such situations works to make these situations easier for everyone. Louisiana Autism Spectrum and Related Disorders (LASARD) Project coordinator Julie D. Riley delved into the rehearsal strategy in the Think Inclusive piece I wrote based off an interview with her.

Become a Think Inclusive Member

If you enjoy the Think Inclusive website, know the experience gets even better by becoming a Think Inclusive member! Membership perks include exclusive content from our sponsor Brookes Publishing Company, a 30-minute consultation with our founder Tim Villegas (either by Skype, phone, or email), ad-free browsing, complete access to the Think Inclusive archives (three years and counting), and a curated online newsletter. Membership perks will only grow too. For instance, sometime this year Kids Included Together (KIT) will start providing membership exclusive content too. Click here to learn more about becoming a Think Inclusive member.

We Are Turning Three And It’s Giving Us A New Perspective

We Are Turning Three And It's Giving Us A New Perspective

It’s hard to believe that three years has passed since we launched Think Inclusive. It all started because, in all honestly, I was feeling a little lost. At the time, I was in my eighth year of teaching special education, and though I felt like I knew a lot about my field, there was so much more I wanted to learn. I had recently discovered other educators on Twitter and Facebook and realized that a vibrant community of people with and without disabilities were committed to sharing their experiences of inclusion in the classroom and community. I thought that if I could create a place where people from different backgrounds and abilities could have a voice… we could make a bigger impact by coming together than any of us could alone. So, I started writing and asking other people to contribute to the site, and before we knew it, people were finding us on the web and engaging in life-changing conversations about disability and authentic inclusion.

So here comes the exciting (and scary) part for me. We have grown enough for me to turn over some of the responsibilities of managing the site to other people. Here is what that means for you—our dedicated readers!

  1. When you sign up for our newsletter, every month you will receive a round-up of content you might have missed at Think Inclusive. (I know this, because I won’t be in charge of it anymore!)
  2. For our members, our relationship with Kids Included Together (KIT) will become official, and we’ll add even more new content to our members-only section. Expect that to roll out sometime this year.
  3. In addition, our podcast is slated to come back by the end of March 2015. We recently upgraded our sound and recording equipment and we have a shorter/leaner format that should be better for everyone. Our podcast episodes typically lasted more than one hour. We will edit those down for the public and leave the unedited versions for our members.
  4. I’ll be writing less and giving more people the opportunity to give their voices to the discussion surrounding disability and inclusion. It has always been important to me to let people share their stories.  As I ease back on the writing responsibilities, more people will have the chance to shape the tone and stance of Think Inclusive moving forward.

Just to give you a little perspective… here are some numbers to think about:

  • We now boast close to 100 paying members!
  • We reach nearly 900 readers via email with our monthly newsletter.
  • We have over 10K followers across our social media outlets (Twitter/Facebook/Google+).
  • We consistently rank in the top 50 of education blogs (in the world).
  • We had 250K page views in 2014, which exceeds our 2013 total by more than 100K.
  • …and we aren’t even finished!  We’ll keep spreading the word about inclusion and disability rights.

So… what have we learned in the last three years? (Glad you asked!) The secret ingredient in our recipe for success is YOU!  You give this site fresh perspective.  As you share our posts with your friends and colleagues, you continue the conversation about inclusion in your own context.  Now that is pretty exciting.

Thank you for supporting our efforts. We would not be able to provide the content you deserve without your investment in us.  We believe that our fourth year will be the best yet.  Here’s to the Think Inclusive community and all the good things in the year ahead!
Thanks for your time and attention.

Tim Villegas
Founder of Think Inclusive

Photo Credit: Adam Melancon/Flickr

How To Become A Think Inclusive+ Member In Less Than 4 Minutes

How To Become A Think Inclusive+ Member - YouTube.clipular

Some of you may be wondering…

How do I become a Think Inclusive+ Member? I am glad you asked.

For more information on the benefits of membership, you can visit our Member Benefits page.

Thanks for your time and attention.

BREAKING NEWS: Think Inclusive Is Expanding!

breakingnews

We have exciting news and we can’t wait to tell you about it.

If you have followed us from the beginning, you know that we started this journey approximately two years ago with a Twitter and a Tumblr account. Today, we have grown into a respected voice in the disability rights and educational community, receiving a solidly “middle of the pack” ranking on the Teach 100 (a daily ranking of education blogs) while garnering over 25,000 page views in the last three months. So with this in mind, we are happy to announce that once again…we are growing. Here’s how:

  1. We’ve hired Zachary Fenell as our first staff writer. Zachary has penned Off Balanced, a memoir about teen life with cerebral palsy. Additionally Zachary has written content for numerous blogs including The Mobility ResourceHandicap This!Special Education Guide, and the YAHOO! Contributor Network. He also wrote a guest post for us called “Exploring the Parent-Child Dynamic within the IEP Team“, which is how we were first introduced. He will make an excellent addition to our writing team that will hopefully grow over the next year and beyond.
  2. We will be rolling out our Think Inclusive+ Membership the whole month of December as well as giving away 31 FREE One Year Memberships ($19.95 value) as well as a special Buy One, Give One (BOGO) membership promotion. More about member benefits in a minute.
  3. Some of you may have already noticed there is a section on the site for Common Core aligned lesson plans (it is under the#GAA tab). Over the next year, we will be in touch with educators all over the US that will fill in the gaps for special and general educators by giving access to the Common Core State Standards. At this time we will be focusing on Georgia educators, but it will expand to include more state specific information as it relates to their alternate assessment.

Want to work for Think Inclusive?

Over the next year, we will be looking for at least two more writers, an editor, and a web based media producer to round out our staff. If you are interested in finding out how you can be a part of the work we are doing at Think Inclusive and our vision for a more inclusive world, please visit our “Start Here” page and/or email Tim at timvillegas@thinkinclusive.us.

What do Think Inclusive+ Members receive?

Here are some of the exclusive benefits only available to members (Starting January 1st, 2014):

  • All-Access Pass to the Think Inclusive Archive which will include posts 6 months old or older.
  • Expert how-to, opinion/commentary, and technical articles written by leaders in the disability rights, inclusion and educational field.
  • A weekly curated online newsletter that includes links to inclusion related stories from around the web.
  • Members only giveaways.
  • FREE Training videos and/or webinars (Non-Members will have to pay).
  • FREE E-books that will cover a range of topics in disability rights, inclusion and education (Non-Members will have to pay)
  • 30 minutes of consultation time with Tim (via Skype, phone or email) which will be scheduled at a mutually convenient time.

How much does it cost?

Yearly, Two-Year and Monthly Memberships are available:

One Year Membership ($19.95 – $1.66 per month)
Two-Year Membership ($29.95 – $1.25 per month)
Month-to-Month ($2.00 per month)

(Taxes may apply on all memberships)

Where exactly will my money be going?

One of my goals for Think Inclusive is to be as upfront and honest as possible with you about where your membership money is going. This is why I would like to share with you the bigger picture and why I wanted to start a subscription website in the first place.

The plan for this website has always been to create an economic engine for writers (self-advocates, educators and parents of children with disabilities) so that they can get a little extra money for what they are passionate about. None of us are trying to get rich here. This is how I see the breakdown of where your money will be going.

  • 20% will be donated between two non-profits: TASH, an organization that is solely dedicated to the equity, opportunity and inclusion of people with disabilities; and the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network (ASAN), an organization run by and for Autistic people which focuses on public policy advocacy, community engagement to encourage inclusion and respect for neurodiversity, quality of life oriented research, and the development of Autistic cultural activities.
  • 40% will go toward paying our staff (writers, an editor, media producer, and webmaster)
  • 20% will go toward future developments (equipment, hardware, software, licensing, etc.)
  • 20% will go toward site maintenance (web-hosting, domain names, and technical support)

Promotions and Giveaways

WOW! Are you still with me? I hope you are…because here is where I get to tell you how you can get a One Year Think Inclusive+ Membership for FREE or BOGO during the month of December. To qualify for one of the 31 FREE One Year Memberships ($19.95 value) you must do two things.

  1. Register for a FREE account at Think Inclusive (Free accounts will only be active until December 31st, 2013).
  2. If you are already a FREE member, LOG-IN to the site and make a comment on any post (all of our current and archived posts are available to everyone until December 31st, 2013).

We’ll be picking random winners every Friday in December. Good luck and we are looking forward to seeing all your comments this coming month!

To get the Buy One, Give One (BOGO) Membership Promotion, all you have to do is SIGN-UP for a One Year Membership and then email Tim (timvillegas@thinkinclusive.us) with the name and email address of the person you are gifting with a membership. It can be anyone! After that, we’ll set them up.

Enough Information For You?

Thanks for hanging in there with us. We hope that you see being a Think Inclusive+ Member will produce big rewards for you and for inclusion.

Thanks for your time and attention.

Tim Villegas
Think Inclusive

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