Using Acting to Support Neurodivergency with Theater of Possibility
June 17, 2022
Using Acting to Support Neurodivergency with Theater of Possibility

Neurodivergent students often get pulled out of classrooms and taught separately because they are “different.” Well, we’re all a little bit different. Does that mean we should all be taught in silos? Not a chance.

There’s an inclusive program in the Seattle area that’s supporting our colorful, mismatched students in a unique way that can help them on and off the stage. Youth are learning through theater and improvisation.

This week on the podcast, I’m talking with Lauren Marshall, director of Theater of Possibility, about the organization’s unique take on theater and learning. And joining Lauren is Jackie Moffit, one of the school’s former students and current teachers.

Together we explore the role the current education system has had on neurodivergent youth, why pull-out programs might work in some instances (but generally don’t), the problem with special education, and why acting is a valuable tool for students with autism.

About Lauren Marshall:

Lauren Marshall is the founding director of Theater of Possibility, serving neurodiverse youth, since 2010. A produced and published playwright, she has an MFA in Music Theater writing from NYU, and BA and JD from Stanford.

About Jackie Moffit:

Jackie Moffit is an actor, writer, and musician on the autism spectrum who goes by any pronouns. They first started participating in Theater of Possibility in 2012 as a student and became an assistant teacher for the kids’ class several years later. They are passionate about neurodiversity representation in education and the arts, and are excited for their first session as lead teacher. In addition to his work with Theater of Possibility, Jackie also volunteers at Books to Prisoners and writes media reviews for the Northwest Film Forum and Redefine Magazine. Some of their interests include synthesizers, linguistics, and tabletop games.

Jump in the Conversation:

[1:55] – Creating community for neurodiverse youth to come together
[3:15] – The commitment to Theater of Possibility
[3:56] – “We can succeed in life not by repressing autistic attributes but by embracing them as much as possible”
[5:07] – Lauren’s journey with theater
[7:04] – Why acting is valuable for people with autism
[10:03] – The positive results that TOP is seeing
[11:50] – Theater of the Oppressed
[13:25] – It starts with community
[14:20] – The present classroom model moves neurodivergent youth into another room; it’s beneficial to bring youth together
[15:25] – Neurodivergent need space to be around people the same as them
[17:57] – Activities need to be rewarding in and of themselves
[20:01] – Turbo Time
[25:05] – Magic Wand
[29:16] – Maureen’s Takeaways

Links & Resources

 

Transcript:

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 0:03
Hello fellow parents and educators. Thank you for joining me at Education Evolution, where we are disrupting the status quo in today’s learning models. We talk about present day education, what’s broken, who’s fixing it, and how. I’m Dr. Maureen O’Shaughnessy, your host and founder of education evolution, micro school coalition, and co founder of at active, I consult and train with schools and leaders who are fiercely committed to changing the narrative, reimagining the education landscape, and creating learning that serves all children and prepares them to thrive. If you are new, welcome to the podcast. Please subscribe on our website to get it delivered to your inbox weekly. If you’ve been around a while, have you left a review?

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 1:09
Lauren and Jackie it is so good to have you both today. All right. And listeners today I’m chatting with two leaders of Seattle’s Theater of Possibility, or top, founded in 2010. Top serves youth with autism and other disabilities as well as typically developing peers. They value that every person has gifts that they bring through acting improv collaboration and play creation. Top fosters creativity builds confidence creates community. It is wonderful. Let’s hear how they are making this happen. So Lauren, what did you create it?

Lauren Marshall 1:53
Well, I think first and foremost a community, a community for Neuro diverse people to come together and be creative and feel safe and be valued for who they are.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 2:06
Nice. And Jackie, what is your role at top?

Jackie Moffit 2:11
Well, I started off in TOC as one of the students. When I was 16 years old, I kept participating because it was such a life changing experience for me every year because we don’t really have like a hard like age limit or anything for like the teen and young adult class. And by the time I was like 2021, I was experienced enough that Maureen invited me to be the assistant teacher of the kids class. Now that I’m 26 I’m also involved in leading the curriculum for the young adult group.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 2:43
I love it’s you’ve come up through the ranks and really know what the experience is like. And obviously, it was powerful and positive, or you wouldn’t still be with them. That’s wonderful.

Lauren Marshall 2:57
Yeah, that’s 10 years that we have. And we have other students. I think Jackie’s the longest, but we have a number of other students who have been in the program for 6, 7, 8 years.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 3:11
Wow. Love it. So top is a big undertaking. Why are you both so committed to top?

Lauren Marshall 3:22
Well, yeah,

Jackie Moffit 3:25
I guess I was out. Basically, the thing about as like an autistic person going through school and everything growing up, I always loved learning, but did a horrible time in school because the way it was administered was so rigid, and so stigmatizing. And I think a big part of that is like these autistic kids, they’re growing up like not having like teachers or therapists who see this the world the same way they do and go through the same life experiences. So I want to be there as like a role model who’s also on this spectrum, for especially these younger kids and sort of show like, you can succeed in life, not by repressing your artistic attributes, but by embracing them as fully as possible. path forward. That’s what’s different than what you’ve seen a typical curriculum.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 4:17
Love that and Jackie, I am hearing this all over the place in the last couple of years. We need teachers that look like our students, we need to be addressing race, gender ability, and we need more models that look like the kids so that they can identify so for you to be providing that is really meeting such an authentic need. Good for you.

Jackie Moffit 4:41
Definitely. Thank you.

Lauren Marshall 4:43
Yeah, I remember my my college graduation that the speaker said the best thing you can do for an organization is make it not need you when you’re gone. And it really is my dream that eventually theater possibility will be run by people like Jackie who are on the spectrum and that they are the leaders It’s been very exciting for me to create those opportunities as leadership opportunities for my students. So for me, I probably, I think I probably have some shadow traits of Asperger’s, but I don’t identify as neuro divergent, but I do have autism in my family, I have deafness in my family. So from the time I was very little, I’ve grown up with disability. And I was one of those awkward kids in elementary middle school, I didn’t make friends very easily, I raised my hand too much talk too much in class wasn’t good at sports. And theater really saved my life. And I discovered it in my senior year in high school. And it, it just gave me a place to be myself and to kind of move beyond myself.

Jackie Moffit 5:48
Kind of go. Okay, so basically, here’s what’s interesting. There’s a stereotype of it’s stressful to go on stage, it’s overwhelming, it’ll make you insecure for me know, the opposite, when I’m on stage is the one time when I feel no social anxiety at all. Because when I’m in a regular conversation, I always go up being like, I was the kid who would talk too much, I would be too loud, or interrupt people, what have you, I’d be so like, I wouldn’t realize that how I was acting was like, considered wrong, whatever. And then I’d be like, so like, ashamed of myself when people would get upset. But if I’m on stage, it’s like, I don’t have to hold anything back. I don’t have to filter who I am, I can just let it all fly. And people will accept and appreciate me for that I can just be like, sort of as as big and flamboyant, or as emotional and vulnerable, or whatever. Or like just talking about my interests as much as I want. And so it’s like, when I’m on stage, I have no anxiety, then I feel like I’m in a flow state. Look, I’m at home.

Lauren Marshall 6:51
I’ve actually had students who might have a speech impediment, maybe a stutter or stammer, and when they’re improvising the character, sometimes that goes away. It’s, it’s really miraculous. And and I think it’s about that freedom to be in yourself, but also outside yourself at the same time, right to step into the shoes of another character. You know, sometimes it’s kind of become common in the autism community to say, Oh, yes, people with autism should learn acting. But it’s really important to to understand why like, it’s not about learning to pass as neurotypical or masking, it’s about being yourself more fully and authentically. And, and that’s what I really firmly believe theater guys, it expands who we are, but it doesn’t change. It doesn’t erase or or put behind a mask who you are.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 7:46
I love that. Yeah, we’re not fixing anything, we’re writing a chance to be authentic and accepted. And as you said, expand ourselves.

Lauren Marshall 7:55
Yes, yes. And, you know, I’ve learned to I think, in the early years with theatre possibility, you know, we talked about practicing relationship skills through theater, I think that’s very much part of what the curriculum does that it is designed to highlight and foster certain relationship skills. But I really see myself much more as a facilitator than a teacher, it’s not top down, I’m creating an environment where the students can explore and discover and learn. And I’m learning as much from that design, inquiring

Jackie Moffit 8:27
about that kind of like, the important thing is that the social skills aspect of it, it’s not didactic as not behavioral at all, it’s just about the organic connections that are formed between the students through the activities, having intrinsic rewards, and just through, like having other people in the same space, who may have a similar life experience or similar perspective. And also interesting differences at the same time, can create connections that people authentic, and not forced, like or like, it’s like an obligation to socialize. Because basically, to me, it’s very important that teaching isn’t based around enforcing a hierarchy. It’s more like I regard my students as like, their peers, who I’m sort of I’m just sharing this knowledge, I’m sharing skills, but not from a perspective of like, trying to act like a centralized authority more just like a peer model for these activities.

Lauren Marshall 9:22
Yes. And if I can throw out a compliment to Jackie, because I’m in observing you and leading the team in class. And I think you do that so beautifully, that you really do create a mentor relationship with this with the students. How are you? You are one of them, while at the same time,

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 9:41
that is so important, and I know that our micro school, our teachers coach, and it’s less top down, it’s more facilitating and first name basis and relational. It’s super important that kids feel safe and seen and accepted. I’m wondering, I can imagine but tell me what are some of the positive The results that you are achieving with top participants.

Lauren Marshall 10:04
Wow, do you want to start on that one, Jackie,

Jackie Moffit 10:08
I want to say like, for instance, it’s like, a lot of these students are discovering, like, they might have an interest that they think no one has in common with them. And then they’ll meet someone in the group turns out who has the same interest that can be so rewarding, you know, and also, like someone who may be, maybe they would be guarded and not share their emotions very much, they actually ended up sharing it a lot, you know, or someone who like, if they’re talking a lot, some of the more nonverbal exercises, they might learn, like other ways to express themselves, but it never feels like you’re being told, Do this, instead of that, it’s more like you can do this, but you can do that as well. So just sort of like expanding, expanding and building upon this, students establish a set of sense of self. And we’re also looking at ways that these kids can address problems in their life and like any qualities they face in their life in a way that still feels playful. And not like we’re trying to lecture them on how to live their life, but rather helping them explore strategies through the games themselves.

Lauren Marshall 11:17
Yeah, so the kind of theater we do, it’s improvisation we base and it’s sometimes called devised theatre where we are creating original pieces out of improv and collaboration as opposed to my coming in with the script and casting assigning parts, we don’t do that. Once we do create our, our, our finished pieces, then there is some more traditional rehearsal where people take on roles and stuff, but it’s really a process that’s very organic. And a lot of the work we do is grounded in a gustibus Theater of the Oppressed. So Theater of the Oppressed was designed for community activism and self empowerment. Festival wall is Brazilian, and he worked a lot in, you know, placed in situations where there was gross inequality. So landlord peasant, you know, totalitarian states. And so he felt that traditional theatre was to pop down because he was telling the audience what to think he wanted to create a theater, where the audience became participants, he called them SPECT actors instead of spectators. So some examples of Theater of the Oppressed that we use is a technique called form theater where we present a scene around an unsolved problem. And then we invite the Specht actors, which includes the audience, as well as our actors to step into the roles of one of the characters and try out different solutions. So it’s kind of like a roleplay. But it’s, it’s both artistically and psychologically much more advanced than roleplay. Because sometimes in roleplay, you say, you know, like, just say no to drugs, you’re going to practice that. But real life isn’t that easy. So in our form theatre scenes, we make it hard. We show that that strategies don’t, you know, they’re tricky. And we tell the, you know, the antagonists to push back, don’t give in, you know, sometimes just saying no, isn’t enough, you have to what else can you do? So, we’re teaching those empowerment strategies that I think do carry over into real life, in terms of a benefit that I’ve seen in the students, you know, so much of it for me, it starts with just the community that, that people want to come there, and they like being around one another, and we’re having fun together. But another benefit is that my students get to become the teachers out in the real world. And we’ve been invited to do gigs, where we go into the community. And we are using these techniques to teach teachers to teach doctors to, you know, to teach staff at a school, how they can be more inclusive of people on the autism spectrum, and people with other disabilities. And that has been so empowering. When, when my students who are often the recipient of services, at least they have experienced that growing up and in school, now they’re going into a school environment. And we’re using these theatrical techniques to enlighten others.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 14:14
Oh, that is so powerful. And that leads me to another question, you’re halfway into it already. Often, our present classroom or program model moves neurodivergent kids to a separate space, and you’re showing how beneficial it is to bring youth together. So how might others create spaces that blend and include a variety of learners?

Jackie Moffit 14:37
I would say the important thing. I mean, I don’t think someone who’s been through this special education problem. I don’t think the problem is necessarily having spaces that are specifically for autistic students. I don’t think that’s inherently wrong. I think the problem is when these spaces for their specific At least for autistic students are used not as a way to bring them together, but rather a way to kind of put them all in a bin and separated out from the rest of society as lessor. And that is what I’ve seen in the public schools. And that’s why I want to bring this curriculum to the public schools, because that’s what we need to change is that I think the important thing is like neurodivergent, people do need social spaces to be around others who are like them. Because when you when people think of as like, oh, neurodivergent people like lack an understanding of neurotypical, it’s not about a deficiency, it cuts both ways. It’s like people who have no experience with neurodiversity, they have a lack of understanding of autistic people, social cues. But when you put autistic people together with each other in a space where they are afforded dignity, to interact in a way that feels natural to them, it will be natural for them to socialize with each other is what I have noticed, because they won’t have to explain these things like not having to explain everything all the time. But the problem with special ed as its as it’s like practice now is it’s often based on a model that’s remedial and or based around like rewards and punishment, both these like paradigms need to be thrown in the dumpster, honestly, because like neurodivergent, kids are being failed by this system. I never graduated high school. And now I’m a teacher.

Lauren Marshall 16:31
I, I have done some work in the public schools, as well as a guest artist. And I definitely see that rewards and punishment system, I was working at an elementary school in Seattle, in a behavioral classroom, and I would, you know, try to gather the kids into the circle and the teacher, the classroom teacher would say, Okay, if you’re not in a circle, by the time I count to 10, I’m talking a minute of the recess. And, and that turned, what could have been, you know, a fun game and to now the kids were anxious now, they were afraid they were going to fail if they didn’t do theater of possibility, right. So in that situation, I actually have to speak to the teacher and say, Hey, let me let me do it my way. And, you know, there was initially like, or I don’t know, but I don’t use I don’t use incentives at all, very early on in my teaching, you know, I sometimes there were classes where sometimes there was issues of very high needs, and some some people needed quiet and some people needed loud, and how do I counsel that? And I remember people saying, oh, you know, use a marble jar, and whenever, when the kids are good, put a marble in the jar. And I tried that. And boy, was that a disaster? You know, for a lot of different reasons. I mean, for one, we’re up on our feet, and I couldn’t be near the marble jar. But I really but but more philosophically, I realized that, that the activities needed to be rewarding in and of themselves. And that if I set the pace, right, and I, I structured the curriculum so that everybody could have success, that there were fast activities and slow activities and, and that I was appealing to different types of learners and room for different types of gifts, that I didn’t need to use discipline, right, because you want to succeed. And when you when you get misbehavior or checking out, it’s because students are feeling frustrated, they’re not successful. So I don’t use any incentives like that at all the participation is its own reward. And I do think that what I would like to see happen more in the schools is more tailoring of instruction to diverse types of learners like in, in our program, the possibility we have had students who are nonverbal or primarily or minimally verbal, not not everybody’s on the autism spectrum. We also sometimes have students with Down syndrome with cerebral palsy with with learning disability, I say we’re about three quarters autism spectrum, we also have typically developing students who are there just because maybe they want to be part of the program, or they’re, they’re dealing with anxiety or other other depression or other issues. So we were very, very diverse. And I think, Jackie, you can tell me if I’m wrong on this, but start to see that, that everybody brings something to it. So like, Jackie is so highly verbal, and he’s so quick on his feet. And he’s amazing at improv. And there might be another student who’s just extremely emotive, and she’s always there with the hugs and she just senses exactly what somebody needs emotionally, even though she’s not as Faasil verbally. So if you can kind of create that environment where she can start to see oh, that person is different from me, but they have something really valuable to offer. Nice that’s how you create community.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 19:54
Love it. Yes, I would love this shift now to turbo time just to some rapid question. In an answer so that we get to know a bit about the two of you now that we know how powerful the theater of possibility is. So first question, and you can answer either be on either order, who are two inspirational folks you’d love to meet.

Jackie Moffit 20:19
I would say, David Byrne from talking heads, he’s on the autism spectrum. And I was gonna say Temple Grandin, but actually I have talked to her.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 20:31
Oh, my goodness, well, but you can admire her. That’s way cool.

Jackie Moffit 20:34
yeah. Because you’re a public speaker, public speaking event, like doing a q&a. And I asked her questions, she answered it. So I actually have talked to her. But other than her, David Byrne from talking heads, because he’s on the autism spectrum. And you actually see like, a lot of themes of that and like his lyrics, and like, also, his movie and stuff like that, because he made a movie to that was really good.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 20:58
Awesome, Lauren.

Lauren Marshall 21:00
So Nikki row is an artistic actor who just wrote a book called fearlessly different, which is really wonderful about his quest to play the lead role in The Curious Incident in the night. And I found him so inspirational. I’d love to meet him, I’d love to work with him. I also my second would be JB Handley and his son. So he is a dad who wrote a book called underestimated about his son, who is nonspeaking, who, at the age of 17, discovered a technique called spell to communicate, where he could, he didn’t have the motor, fine motor ability to type but he could point to letters on a letter board and communicate his thoughts. And he had been so underestimated that his his father really thought he had the intelligence of a preschooler. And once he started spelling to communicate, they realize that he has this amazing mind. He’s now studying calculus in high school, and he plans to go to college and become a neuroscientist. So I would love to meet them.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 22:03
Yes. How about your favorite place to travel

Jackie Moffit 22:07
over this day, say, the thing is, it’s always been my dream to travel internationally and see different continents and things like that. But for because of my kind of financial background, I’ve never had the opportunity, but I’d love to go to Iceland, Norway, Japan, Scotland, or New Zealand or Argentina. Wow, places I have been. I really liked visiting Ellensburg Washington and I like going to Las Vegas as well and Colorado.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 22:36
Okay, I know this is turbo, but I grew up in Ellensburg. Tell me what you like about Alan’s.

Jackie Moffit 22:42
Okay, here’s the thing, lots of historic buildings, like very old architecture, lots of like little independent businesses like small record stores, bookstores, and things like that. I like that kind of desolate like looking out over like the fields and the highways, especially like at sunset, like looking out over just like the trees and the motels and the hills. It’s very atmospheric. Oh,

Lauren Marshall 23:05
love it. And we actually did a trip to Ellensburg Jackie, and another another.

Jackie Moffit 23:12
Alumni who, you know, for better or worse. I mean, maybe it’s kind of sad, but he’s not participating anymore. But he was speaking at the panel too with me anymore.

Lauren Marshall 23:21
Yeah, it was the Washington cultural Congress, that large wall Yeah.

Jackie Moffit 23:24
Artois, origin disabilities conference 2018, October 2018.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 23:29
Nice.

Lauren Marshall 23:30
Absolutely. For travel. So I have been fortunate to get to travel to some places in the world. My younger daughter is adopted from China. And she loves all things Japanese. So we have told her that when she graduates from high school configure that we would like to take her to Japan. So I hope that I hope that at that point COVID And all it will be under control. And then we’ll be able to do that.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 23:54
Yes. Final question. Something about you that most people don’t know.

Jackie Moffit 24:02
Something about me that most people don’t know, is when I was a teenager actually studied martial arts and fencing. Like I was going to say it just might be unexpected because I’m not a very militant looking person, but I thought was very rewarding.

Lauren Marshall 24:19
Nice. I was a ski racer, when I was a middle schooler and a teenager, never never, you know, went very far. But I won some second and third place trophies was 10th in state. And it was kind of neat for me because it was the first sport that I was semi decent at maybe because it wasn’t a team sport. It was an individual sport. And it just like that was before I discovered theater, but that was the first thing was skiing. That kind of gave me a new sense of myself. And so I still love the mountains. I still love the snow.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 24:56
Nice, nice. And I’d like to wrap up interviews with a magic wand question. So if you each had a magic wand and could change anything about how our culture views neurodivergent NSSI, what would you want to change?

Jackie Moffit 25:17
Well, I would, I would abolish ABA. And also, I would probably change the special ed curriculum.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 25:29
Would you say what ABA is? For folks that don’t know i

Jackie Moffit 25:32
behavioral analysis is a form of therapy that is based around trying to make autistic people act, indistinguishable from neurotypical. But it has a dark history of using like punishments, including physical punishments against autistic kids, and was actually invented by a doctor who practiced ex gay conversion therapy, because that’s a whole nother issue is overlap between like LGBT community and autistic community and how they both been persecuted in similar ways. But that would have to be a whole nother interview to fully delve into that.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 26:08
Wow, that’s powerful. Lauren magic wand.

Lauren Marshall 26:12
So I would like to get rid of once and for all, the notion that people with autism lack empathy, it is a stereotype that is not grounded in any reality. In my experience, having now worked with probably at least 200 individuals on the autism spectrum, it it just does not hold true. And the classic example of how, how Nonya Delphine is, is the teacher therapist who sits down, you know, the, the autistic child’s just had a meltdown in school, and maybe gotten to a conflict with another child who says the overwhelmed and, and the teacher, instead of saying what’s going on with you, what do you need, what’s happening? It’s all about put yourself in the, in the shoes of this teacher or this other child, right? You know, it’s all about you need to show more empathy, while the authority figure is completely lacking empathy to autistic child

Jackie Moffit 27:13
To kind of connection going on what Lauren’s saying here is, like the research and a lot of people’s lived experiences showed autistic people actually feel empathy on an emotional level at a heightened level compared to their peers, where it’s actually to an overwhelming degree, but they don’t know how to express it, because they’re not as good at reading the emotions of like people’s facial expressions and things. But on a level of like, they feel the emotion more powerfully, of what others are feeling that many neuro typicals do in a lot of cases, but don’t always know how to express that in a way that’s considered socially acceptable. And same with like, if an autistic person is having a meltdown, because it’s happened to me a lot, especially if you’re younger, when I was younger, like, the last thing you ever want to do is tell them that they’re acting disruptive, or anything like that, because believe me, oh, but they can’t stop how they act. Because someone who has very high functioning phone quote, might still act very quote unquote, low functioning, if they’re under if they’re very overwhelmed. Yeah, because they’re high functioning people don’t believe that it’s actually that severe for them when they are upset. So they’re like, Oh, you’re just acting out for attention. So the important thing is never use that kind of rhetoric run autistic because just like kerosene on a fire if they’re feeling anxious,

Lauren Marshall 28:39
yeah, if so, like, if someone was having a seizure, you wouldn’t shame them. Right? You wouldn’t stop that right now. And yet, that’s what people do all the time to to autistic people when they’re when they’re overwhelmed.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 28:51
Yeah, I completely agree with you guys. Thank you. I really appreciate the whole interview and your magic wand answers and and just I’m grateful that you were on the education evolution podcast today.

Lauren Marshall 29:05
Thank you. This was really fun.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 29:16
Have fun to have both Jackie and Lauren with us today. Sadly, Jackie’s story of loving learning. But finding school way too rigid and stigmatizing is one that many students for various reasons can relate to. The recent push for students to see others like them needs to be expanded so that our bipoc LGBTQ and differently abled youth all have mentors, and successful adults in their world who look like they do. Being in a flow state and fully present without anxiety. That is a dream that many wish were reality. How powerful that theater of possibility takes our neurodivergent youth to that place. It makes me wonder how we can be using improv and theater more frequently in our classroom experiences. When they mentioned Theater of the Oppressed, my curiosity was piqued and I can’t wait to look into this powerful tool for social change. I appreciated their emphasis on community. Whenever we can create community students feel safer. I know that the top priority at my micro school forging those relationships and caring about each other makes it much easier to be vulnerable and open to learning new things. I’ll be sure to put the turbo time resources in the show notes. I was a little alarmed to hear from Jackie after the interview. More history about the founder of ABA. Jackie’s concern is that this behavioral approach feels like he is being told to reform and change and become air quotes normal. I know that our schools consulting SLP has been a big advocate of social communication, instead of ABA. She is trained in Barry presents work and has had all of my teachers and me read the amazing book, uniquely human. That philosophy is that we look at behaviors and understand what’s behind them. So the example of a student hand flapping shifts from a behavior to be extinguished because it doesn’t look again air quotes normal to one of understanding that this is an excited student who is self regulating. Berry present is a pioneer in the whole early days of autism research. And I love his humane philosophy and how easy to read. His explanations are. On a last note, a little promo for anybody that’s interested in more if you’re in the Seattle area, theater of possibility is going to have a July camp. Check out their website in our show notes. And Jackie and Lauren, take their show on the road and work with educators, business people present at conferences. I really love how they walk their talk and create such a positive and affirming message for all you. As always, thank you for being a part of the education evolution.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 33:01
If you are finding yourself thinking, I need to do this in my school. Let’s talk about it. I consult and also have a book TEDx talk an online course to support starting learner driven schools and programs. My goal is to help schools and individuals find new innovative solutions to reaching every student. Let’s create an action plan together. Visit education evolution.org forward slash consult to book a call and let’s get started. Education evolution listeners, you are the ones to ensure we create classrooms where each student is seen, heard, valued and thriving. We need you. Let’s go out and reach every student today. I’d be so grateful if you’d head over to your podcast app to give a great rating and review if you found this episode valuable. Don’t wait. Please do it right now before you forget. I really appreciate it. Thank you listeners signing off. This is Maureen O’Shaughnessy, your partner in boldly reimagining education

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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What better way to support young kids to be happy and healthy students than to encourage them to play. Unfortunately, that’s not the way we operate in the U.S. Instead, we prioritize test scores and sitting quietly and academically-charged preschools. It’s no wonder...

Creating Equity to Improve Education with Carlon Howard

Imagine being at a school where 80% of the students look like you…but you’re the only one like you who is in the honors and advanced classes. That’s where this week’s guest, Carlon Howard, found himself as he readied to graduate from high school. And that experience...

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Why Isn’t Educational Change Happening?

School change is so much harder than I thought! When I did my doctoral research on school innovation and created a hands-on learning school-within-a-school in the 90s, I had no idea that I’d spend the next few decades making tiny changes. Changes that often...

Instilling a Practice of Gratitude in Uncertain Times

Thanksgiving looks different this year. Traditions are being shattered in 2020 and new realities are emerging. Thanksgiving is no exception. After Canada’s Thanksgiving in October, COVID statistics jumped, reminding us that, sadly, the pandemic isn’t taking a break...

Building Interdisciplinary Learning into Traditional Classrooms

A traditional classroom setting is just that...traditional. Teachers must teach specific subjects for a required amount of time, often using prescribed curriculum materials that may be a decade old. There’s little consideration for the individual learner--their...

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Creating Equity to Improve Education with Carlon Howard

Creating Equity to Improve Education with Carlon Howard

In this episode, Carlon and I talk about doing the work in the messy gray space, why teacher pathway programs are so valuable, why schools need support outside the traditional education space, and how he built Equity Institute organically from a place of connection and decompressing.

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