This blog was written on March 8, 2021
I’m so excited to announce that the Included by Design Mastermind Website has been published!
Why we got started
In the spring of 2020, school teachers and leaders started to recognize that the COVID-19 shut down wasn’t a brief interruption. It started becoming clear that school, especially in populated areas, would be on remote emergency teaching for many months – maybe even through the end of the school year. There was even radical talk that schools wouldn’t resume as normal in the fall.
Not surprisingly, the schools where I was consulting put professional development on hold. They told me that co-teaching, empowering learners and families, and strengthening specially designed instruction were important, but not a priority right now. I agreed! But I wanted to support them. I pondered questions like:
- What does inclusion look like in remote learning?
- How do we meet individual student needs in remote and hybrid formats?
- How can teachers build and sustain connections with students at a distance?
- What does co-teaching look like with remote and hybrid formats?
- What is the role of families with remote and hybrid learning?
I registered for every webinar and conference I came across. I read blogs and published papers. I ordered new books hot off the press. But I realized these questions were too broad and too important for one person. I needed a mastermind!
I reached out to individuals I’d respected for years and new contacts as I heard them presenting online. Some members invited others to join. We had a core of about ten who showed up for our weekly calls, including general education teachers (elementary and secondary) and special educators, education leaders (district, state, school levels), parents, parent advocates, and special education attorneys, school improvement specialists/consultants, vocational specialists, and individuals with disabilities.
How it was organized
Each week we featured one of our members, who shared his or her perspectives on inclusion, on belonging, on teaching ALL students during the pandemic. Usually, speakers included glimpses into their personal lives and experience. Many shared wisdom and resources helpful for the group. After each week’s presentation, members brainstormed about new insights and new possibilities.
What we gained
Our meetings were nearly every Wednesday evening from June to November. Once a month, the VIP members (self-proclaimed) discussed implications from our new understandings and proposed actions we could take to spread what we learned. As our end approached, members were invited to share their “gold nuggets” — their takeaways from the whole Mastermind process.
We decided to create a website with a page for each contributing member, now published! I hope you will visit it: www.IncludedMastermind.com and explore our wisdom. Each member plans to share the site with colleagues and families. I will post links in my professional development modules. Each page offers a brief survey where you could provide your thoughts and feedback to the featured speaker. We hope the website will contribute widely!
10 Minutes with Barb & Ron
Barb (a Mastermind member) and Ron have a regular video blog on topics related to Universal Design for Learning. Last week, they interviewed me about the Mastermind Website. Check out their interview here: 10 Minutes with Barb & Ron