3/13/23 Just some random ponderings………I would love to hear some opinions and input from my esteemed colleagues and the experts that I look up to so much…..The issue I see is that SO many more kids these days are not “fitting in” to our current “best practices” for early education. So many more kids these days just don’t fit neatly into our predefined boxes……do they really all need special education, or is this actually more OUR issue than theirs? Should we keep teaching everyone the way we have been, and continue to expect 10% of our students to severely challenge their teachers to the point of total burnout? or can we change OUR expectations? If prek-kdg and the early grades educated ALL kids based on their unique learning styles and needs, wouldn’t education be alot more active, more fun, and more relationally connected? Within our current system it seems impossible. But It would be so awesome if their uniquenesses could somehow “fit” into what we have to offer. To be celebrated and championed as opposed to being labeled as “unmanageable.” The way schools and classrooms are set up right now, for most teachers it is too much to ask, to incorporate more movement–motor skills like climbing, jumping, running, spinning, swinging, and throwing–into their learning environments for those who need it. So many kids who have experienced violence, some kind of trauma, neglect, or for whatever reason are neuro-atypical. Kiddos the school system eventually labels as “BD,” (behavior disordered) or “on the autism spectrum” or “ADHD” — these little ones are in Pre-K classrooms “not fitting” and “not behaving” each and every day. Their poor teachers are TRYING SO HARD to help them fit into spaces and routines that they CANNOT. Administrators are caught between the expectations of parents and the legislation to keep these kiddos in class, and the REALITIES that our ECE teachers are not able to teach these neuro-atypical children using the current-day methods at their disposal. As coaches and trainers, we are always playing “catch up” — trying to more fully equip teachers with not only more effective methods and the special resources they need, but also with the attitudes and mindsets that are INCLUSIVE, rather than exclusionary. Child development experts currently tell us that high stress levels due to poverty, trauma, or other environmental factors can produce brain wiring that is highly reactive. Why are our little black boys the ones most likely to be “misbehaving?” Is it possible that our schools and teaching methods are neurodivergently and culturally insensitive? Is it really physically impossible for schools, administrators, classrooms and teachers to change the environments and shift teaching styles and expectations to accommodate to these needs, or is it just too great of a mindset shift? It’s time we start acknowledging the truth about our educational system: we have some outdated ideals, based on traditionally white, judeo-Christian, abelist values and principles. In this current fast-paced, technology-saturated world kids are being born into, we are wiring their brains quite differently. It seems to me that neurodiversity should be a good thing, not such a huge problem — can’t our education systems and practices adapt to the multicultural and neurodiverse population of kids we are serving? Shouldn’t they? Those of us who work with the Pyramid Model and from a trauma-sensitive approach recognize that there are proactive and positively-focused practices that REALLY DO WORK for many of these kids. But we are falling short in the goal of CONVINCING TEACHERS of this fact, because their daily struggles make them want to throw in the towel on these kids. For those of us who are coaches and mental health consultants, I see that as our biggest challenge – with not more than an hour per week in their classrooms, if that, how can we help teachers feel supported ENOUGH so that they are willing AND able to change both their mindsets AND their approaches to be 99% proactive and 100% positive, and to believe that they ARE equipped to teach these very neuro-divergent, behaviorally-challenging children? What needs to be changed in OUR expectations and in the supports WE can provide? How can WE be proactive and help teachers change the entire culture of their classrooms? [And where do PARENTS fit into the picture? In what ways are we failing them or are some of them failing their kids? Another whole can of worms entirely……how can admins create systems of support and engagement that make it desirable for parents to come to the table?] I’m sorry that I have way more questions than answers! Corporately, all of our minds should be able to come up with some solutions NOW, so we don’t lose any more teachers, and kids stop falling through the cracks of our educational system.