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Supporting Diverse Learners Lab iJED Conference, March 2-4, 2014

Welcome to the Supporting Diverse Learners Lab.

In this Learning Lab, you will work in groups to explore real life case studies of the challenges that arise when supporting students with an array of different learning styles and needs. You will learn from each other and from expert consultants over the course of three Lab sessions, as you dive deeply into discussions about inclusion practices, systems, personnel, communication and other challenges and opportunities.

Schedule: Lab #1: Sunday 3-5 • Introduction to Lab & case study approach • Briefly skim the case studies and select your preferences for case study groups • Consultant Panel: Framing the “big ideas” underlying the case studies • Group work (facilitated by Case Managers): teambuilding, discussion of case study; work with Consultant #1 • Explanation of next day’s Table Networking activity Lab #2: Monday 9-12 • Participant Table Networking activity • Group work with Consultant #2; optional meeting with Consultant #3 and/or with other participants with relevant expertise • Whole group activity Lab #3: Tuesday 10-12 • Group work to finalize plans and presentations; optional meeting with consultant(s) and/or with other participants with relevant expertise • Group presentations • Summary and Reflection

The Case Study Process The Case Studies: Case Study 1: Systems, Academics, Leadership: Tension and Balance •

Participants will explore the challenges faced by a small Orthodox school in Florida. The school is facing declining enrollment as parents express concerns about the effect of including students with behavior or learning differences. They feel that the quality of education is not adequate for all students.

Case Study 2: Meeting the Needs of the Whole Child: Inside and Out •

Participants will focus on young children with social/emotional needs. By closely examining the problems faced by one student with a severe anxiety disorder, the team will be able to explore best practice strategies for all students with challenges in this area.

Case Study 3: Professional Development as a Lever for School-Wide Change •

Providing a 21st century education to adolescents has become increasingly more complex. Lack of explicit teacher training in current practice impacts all students but especially those with learning differences. This case study will examine how professional development can impact change at the high school level.

The Case Managers: Beth Crastnopol Nancy Kriegel Ellen Maiseloff

Sharon Goldstein Benjamin Mann Faye Friedman

IMPORTANT: Please fill out the Case Study Group Selection Form and submit it before the panel discussion begins.


Goals for the Supporting Diverse Learners Lab •

Participants will return to their schools seeing their classroom/school in a whole new light and possessing the tools and resources that will improve learning for all students.

Participants will be able to analyze and identify the complexities of a school problem and will have an understanding of how to follow a process for creating a positive action plan. Participants will leave with a bank of tools/materials/contacts to work on school dilemmas.

Agenda for Case Study Work: Day 1: • • •

Read the case study and take notes.

Work on defining the problem. Work with a consultant to refine your definition.

Day 2: •

Review the problem and articulate action steps to lead towards positive outcomes.

Work with a consultant on action steps.

Day 3: •

Develop a presentation that is geared to a specific audience and that clarifies steps to an action plan.


Case Study 1: Systems, Academics, Leadership: Tension and Balance Background In a small city in Florida, there are two Modern Orthodox Day Schools and one community day school. There is one boy’s Yeshiva for families who are looking for a more yeshiva-like experience. This Modern Orthodox School, called Bernstein Hebrew Day School, has 95 students, grades k-6. The school is known for its warm and loving environment and for its Zionistic emphasis. They teach Ivrit B’Ivrit (Judaic Studies courses taught in Hebrew) and are committed to the Hebrew language portion of the curriculum. When the school first opened 15 years ago, there was great excitement that the community would have a school that has a Zionistic emphasis and many community members supported the school. Over the last 5 years, Bernstein’s enrollment has shrunk from 165 students to 95 students. The school runs the risk of losing more students due to the demographics at each grade level. “Experienced” teachers are frustrated with the behavior issues, and there is no cohesive, school wide behavior policy in place to ensure structure for learning. “The kids just aren’t like they used to be,” declared one teacher. “I never had trouble with behavior before, but that is all I spend my time on these days. They can’t learn the material the way they used to, I don’t know what else to try.” The school has worked hard to fill seats and has not used a clear admission criteria. If the parents wanted their kids in the school, they were accepted. The school has accepted an extraordinarily wide range of learners without training the teachers in how to meet those needs. The school has developed the reputation in the community for being the Day School for children with special needs. There is a perception that this has stunted the admissions process, as parents who might have been potential candidates for the school are choosing to look elsewhere. There are even parents who send their kids with diagnosed learning disabilities to Bernstein while the rest of their children learn at a different Yeshiva that is a better fit for the family. The Head of School, new to the field, is overwhelmed by meetings, parents and responsibilities that come with the job. Not understanding supervision and evaluation of teachers, the Head has the impossible job of bringing the teachers together to form policies that will help manage the behavior issues, and improve the teaching and learning in the classrooms. The teachers have never participated in a project like this before. They are used to ‘doing their own thing’ with the kids without consulting their colleagues. “We are all so different and we have our own styles, there is no way we could have one system that works for all of us,” one veteran remarks. Another was overheard sharing, “I have been teaching since before he was born. How could he tell me anything about teaching?” What is happening now Parents are pulling their children out of the school because they don’t feel their children are receiving the best education when the behavior/ learning abilities in the classroom are so diverse. Readiness levels among classmates cover the spectrum, and teachers spend more time implementing behavior management strategies than teaching. The teaching that does happen usually caters towards one group of students in the class.


Although the teachers seem to understand the concept of differentiation, there is no evidence of what this looks like in a classroom. In addition, there is no process of educating parents about pedagogy that meets the needs of diverse learners in one classroom. Low enrollment has caused the school to decrease the size of the faculty and the administration. There is one head of school and he has no support system or time to learn about leadership in a school. He recognizes that not all students enrolled in the school belong there. His background in special needs has helped him counsel some families to a school better equipped to meet the needs of their children. However, because of the lack of administrative staff and high teacher turnover, he has very little time to focus on curriculum development, professional development and teaching and learning in his school. The HOS has an infectious personality. Kids come in for rewards all day - and his smile is the reward. He has a reputation among the faculty to have an open door policy, and both faculty and parents take advantage of this policy. Faculty freely send children who are acting up to the Head of School for a magic solution. There is a constant stream of children in and out of the Head of School’s office with little follow through in the classroom. Parents Many parents feel they are paying tuition for a product. They are aware of the other choices available in the community and use this to maneuver themselves into his office and make demands on behalf of their children. Being new to the community and the field, he has a hard time saying no and has found himself making choices that he later regrets. In one instance, Jeffrey Tannenbaum, a parent with two children in the school, came into his office without an appointment but with a definite agenda of complaining about his children’s teachers. The Head allowed Mr. Tannenbaum to come in and spend the next hour ranting. The Head of School listened, and tried to let Mr. Tannenbaum feel he had been heard. This “chance” meeting has become an every day meeting. The Head does not know how to stop the parent from coming in and there isn’t a dean of students or counselor to handle this parent. Mr. Tannenbaum insists that his children aren’t being challenged and they are far above grade level. He doesn’t think his son’s teacher has the capacity to meet the needs of his child and is insistent that the Head of School do something about the situation. He brings in his child’s homework, email communication from the teacher, and usually a quote or two from “other parents in the class.” The Head of School has thought a lot about what Mr. Tannenbaum is saying and knows that there is some truth to his complaints but he spends his time trying to retain the students he has. In the Classrooms The Head is being pulled in all directions to meet everyone’s needs and this task is leaving him frustrated and unhappy. He is committed to the success of Bernstein. He is committed to the students. He is controlled by the parent body and by an inflexible group of teachers who lack basic pedagogy training. Let’s enter a typical classroom at Bernstein: There are 15 children in 1st grade. Mrs. Simons, the teacher, has spent all three years of her teaching career at Bernstein. She graduated from a small college and did her student teaching in a 5th grade classroom. Mrs. Simons is very committed to her students whom she adores and thinks of as her children. At Bernstein, she was given the Common Core Standards but is not sure how to translate them into lesson plans in the classroom. She has 4 students who read above grade level, 3 students who read at grade level, 5 students who are struggling but getting there, and 3 5

students who cannot give the sounds of letters. The children above grade level often finish their work quickly and can be found wrestling on the rug, poking each other, or laughing loudly at their own jokes. In a desperate attempt for some quiet time to work with the struggling students, the early finishers are often given free reign of the classroom computer to keep them distracted. One child who cannot find the corresponding sounds to letter is often crying in class. There is no aide in the classroom. The classroom library has books that were donated by parents which Mrs. Simons has tried to organize by reading level but the system is not perfected yet. Each morning Mrs. Simons stops by the Head’s office to say she is overwhelmed but she cannot describe what is overwhelming her. When the HOS offered to send her to a workshop on Differentiated Instruction, she answered: “I am differentiating. We already received training.” One of the above grade level children is Dovid Tannenbaum, the child of the parent who stops by the office each morning. Mr. Tannenbaum Over the course of many weeks, the HOS heard a lot from Mr. Tannenbaum. “My kid is getting blamed for acting out. He is a great kid. He is just bored. What are you going to do to make it better for him? The teacher really does not get how to teach to smart kids,” was his first conversation. By the next week, he was bringing in articles on how high expectations in 1st grade could lead to academic success in later years. “If the teacher was not so busy with those other kids, she would be able to do more for my child.” Another comment was: “the Core Standards that you CLAIM to use are used by the public schools. This school is supposed to be better than that. I am paying good money so that my kids get a better education than they would in public school. Can you explain why you think the Core Standards are good enough?” As the weeks went on, the statements escalated, “ You are making a decision that kids who are struggling are more important than smart kids. How do we know that our first graders will get what they need this year?” and on another day “other parents agree with me. This is not a school for smart kids. We are all thinking of pulling our kids.” The comment that hurt the most was, “Aren’t we the people of the book? Why are you putting more effort into kids who cannot even read a book than my child who is reading above grade level? “ More in the Classrooms Enter another classroom 3rd grade Judaics with 9 children. The year started with 13 children and 4 have transferred to another school because the parents said that their needs were not being met and that they were being bullied by the other kids. Left in the classroom are 7 boys and 2 girls. The curriculum is text based. Of the 9 children, 1 is Israeli and his parents want him to be kept current with the Israeli curriculum as they may return to Israel in the next few years. (As this family is full tuition, the school promised that they would do all that they could to use his curriculum from Israel including his textbooks). One child just entered the school this year and is just learning to read Hebrew. Another child is the child of the local Orthodox Rabbi. They learn Torah at home together and he often has already studied the lessons in advance. He tends to answer the teacher’s questions the minute they are asked. In addition, there are two children who have trouble following the primarily frontal lesson. They have no strategies for retaining the information and often cannot recall the lesson before. The teacher often moves on as soon as she has one answer to her questions. At the end of each unit, the teacher administers a written test. She knows ahead of time who is going to get what grade, and the results rarely vary. The "high" kids always score perfectly and the "low" kids never succeed. The 4th Grade General Studies classroom is completely structured. The schedule is clearly written on the board. The students have their books and supplies organized. The lessons are clear. The pedagogy is 6

traditional. The teacher often uses an overhead projector and explains the new information followed by worksheets to check for understanding. Students who do not write their name in the top corner or have more than 3 mistakes take the worksheet home to redo that night. When a child misbehaves, his/her name goes on the board. The teacher uses a three strikes method and the children are very well behaved. They arrive on time, sit at their desk and await the teacher’s directions. By the middle of October, the children are not forgetting their homework and their names are in the correct place. Excellent work is posted on the bulletin board. This class has 8 boys and 7 girls. The HOS hears from two parents in this class. One parent claims that the teacher moves on before her daughter understands the lesson and that she is barely understanding the learning. Another mother claims that her child is extremely anxious that he might get his name on the board and cannot sleep at night. The parent is blaming the teacher for being “too harsh”. The teacher feels that she is the only teacher in the school who gets results. In 5th Grade, there is a child who has diabetes. Because the school does not have a full time nurse in the building, the mom, Pam Wallach, spends her day sitting in the hallway of the school. She often helps out in the school and is there in case her daughter’s blood sugar is off at any time during the day. This mother acts as the 'eyes and ears' of the parents in the school. Many of the parents who come to speak to the head of school make references to observations that this mother has seen during the school day. Although Mrs. Wallach is generally supportive, her presence tends to make teachers nervous. Help is Needed The Head of School knows he needs help. He wants to create systems, train the teachers, offer support and create policy. He wants to continue to use the Common Core Standards but does not know how to help teachers modify or how to get them to buy in. They seem to be working independently without collaboration or supervision. He wants to create a preferred pedagogy for the school but does not feel equipped to do so. He also knows (because of his conversations with Mr. Tannenbaum) that he has to address the issues in first grade. How can the HOS make changes within this grade level, address the needs of this parent, and at the same time work on the overall culture of the school ? What are the most important steps for the HOS to take first in order to rebuild confidence and to lower attrition? Choices for the group presentation: • Write a proposal for the Board of Directors with goals, objectives, vision, and details, as well as budget. Use the consultants to ensure that you are truly building capacity. • Create a 3 year plan for the HOS to use internally. Choose an area that you feel he should address and work it through three years with the help of the consultants. • Focus on the 1st grade and build a program that will meet the needs of all the children in that class. Include teacher training in the Core Standards and in methodology, systems, and support as well as ways of bringing that learning to the rest of the school. Use the consultants to help you think more deeply both in the first grade and more globally. • Also consider (in any one of these choices) how blended learning can be a tool in the process. Case study written by: Jane Taubenfeld Cohen, Ben Mann, Melanie Eisen, Shira Loewenstein


Case Study 2: Meeting the Needs of the Whole Child: Inside and Out Overview According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), four million children and adolescents suffer from a serious mental health disorder. One in eight children suffer from an anxiety disorder. As Jewish Day Schools focus on academic requirements, accommodating differences and building communities that are respectful and inclusive of many kinds of learners, it is critical to also take into account the social and emotional well-being of students as part of the “big picture”. This case study will focus on the experiences of a child with a diagnosed anxiety disorder in a Jewish Day School, including concurrent perspectives from the parents and from the school. Introduction Hannah, the middle of three children, attended a Jewish nursery school, and was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder at the age of three. Her mother, a social worker, and her father, an attorney, had already learned quite a bit about Hannah and her struggles with anxiety by the time it came around to looking at kindergarten programs. Hanna’s father graduated from a Jewish Day School (in fact, the same one that their older son was attending and the one they were considering for Hannah), and Hannah’s parents were hopeful that she could also receive a quality Jewish day school education. They were up front during the admissions process about Hannah’s anxiety diagnosis, explaining the ways in which her anxiety impacted her day to day, both socially and academically. The Jewish day school observed Hannah in her pre-school environment, and although nobody could guarantee how her transition to kindergarten would go, the admissions committee felt that their Jewish day school would be a good fit for Hannah. Hannah’s parents were committed to maintaining open and honest communication, updating the school on progress made between the admissions process and the start of kindergarten. (Hannah’s birthday is in late May - the school cutoff is September, with many children in the class with fall birthdays who turned 6 just after school began.) The school, in turn, was very comfortable accepting Hannah after observing her in preschool, meeting with her teachers and the school director and discussing her needs with her parents. The Director of Educational Support Services at this Jewish day school is the lead professional who works with incoming kindergarten families who may have a child with an already identified learning need and often takes the lead in also working with incoming families that have a child with social/emotional needs. The Director of ESS set up a meeting with Hannah’s parents, kindergarten teachers and guidance counselor at the very start of the school year to discuss the strategies that worked well in preschool and at home in situations in which Hannah would become anxious. Hannah’s parents provided the team with a list of specific strategies that the teachers felt comfortable implementing in the classroom. As the year began, Hannah’s parents felt very positive about her transition to a much larger school and were thrilled to hear how seamlessly she seemed to be acclimating to kindergarten in the first few weeks of school. The Jewish Day School which Hannah was attending was a K - 12 pluralistic day school in a metropolitan area with an enrollment of about 1200 students. The school employed 7 guidance counselors and 9 learning specialists. Compared to other local Jewish day schools in the same city, this school had a fairly 8

comprehensive number of faculty members dedicated to meeting the diverse learning needs and the social/emotional needs of the students. The school’s reputation had changed in recent years from a school that did not accept students with any type of learning challenge to one that was welcoming and accommodating to students with mild to moderate needs. The Guidance Counselor who specializes in the younger grades just entered the school last year after receiving a Masters in Educational Psychology. She has already shared with the Principal the need to create systems for struggling students in both academics and social/emotional learning. She has consulted with one of her professors from Graduate School who reminded her that there are no two children with anxiety who present the same exact way and that she needs to deeply understand this child’s issues and educate the teachers to meet that child’s needs. She is in process of working on this while Hannah is in first grade but nothing is ready to put in place at this time. While Hannah is struggling, 4 other children in the lower grades who came in with social/emotional challenges, are thriving and their teachers are able to meet their needs with input from their private therapists. Kindergarten: Hannah had been in various types of therapy for her anxiety since she was 3 years old. While her parents were a bit worried about the transition to kindergarten, they also felt that beginning at a new school was a good way for Hannah to “start over”, without so many pre-conceived notions about her. At the same time, they felt strongly that her new school needed to have an understanding of how her anxiety affects her in a school setting, and be prepared for a wide range of possible scenarios. Most importantly, they wanted the school to understand their approach to Hannah’s anxiety disorder: That she needed to learn how to be anxious, “but do it anyway”. Anxiety would likely be a life-long challenge for her, and learning coping strategies at an early age would serve her well both now and later in life. Hannah’s adjustment to kindergarten was a good one. Although she consistently said she didn’t like school, she was making friends and went to school each morning without a fight. Her teachers provided feedback about how they felt she was doing, and in what areas she was struggling. Hannah’s parents provided a list of strategies from the outside therapists Hannah had been seeing. Suggestions included “wait time”, multiple choice questions and, for the first 15 minutes of class each day, not asking Hannah questions that did not have “simple” answers. This would ease her into her school day and provide her with the support she needed in order to deal with her anxiety. Hannah’s parents became a bit concerned when reports from the teachers seemed very focused on what Hannah couldn’t do. The parents understood that the teachers would be worried, but wanted to be sure they saw the real Hannah. They were worried about the teachers’ reports that Hannah couldn't answer questions out loud about a story that had been read to the class; she couldn’t follow instructions that were given on the carpet once she returned to her table; and that her handwriting was not up to par with the other students. At the same time, Hannah’s parents worried that the school was not implementing the suggested strategies, and was hoping the school would offer ideas of their own. The teachers felt that they were working very hard to meet Hannah’s needs and were also very nervous that they could not please the parents. They sometimes felt that they were hyper focused on Hannah’s needs and were attempting to help her keep up with the class so she felt less behind. They had very little experience with anxiety in young children and were relying on each other and the guidance counselor for information. The strategies given by the parents seemed good but they were not always 9

able to follow through on them given the needs of a diverse class with children who needed enrichment, children who struggled academically, and some behavior issues. The teachers also did not have the training in Differentiated Instruction that would have allowed them to use these strategies on a regular basis. Throughout that year, the teachers, trying to understand Hannah, and trying to respond to the parents’ concerns, often “diagnosed” more than “described”. They wondered if Hannah might have ADD because she was tying and untying her shoes a lot; they suggested a processing disorder because of the issue with instructions; they said she was too distractible because whenever Hebrew began she asked to go to the bathroom. The teachers asked Hannah’s parents to pre-teach material at home on a regular basis, hoping that if Hannah was familiar with the material she would be less anxious. The teachers were thrilled that Hannah had established friendships in the class, and considered that a very important focus for the year. In the meantime, Hannah reported to her parents that children in the circle would whisper to her that she was “stupid” and that it made it really hard to pay attention. On one occasion, a fellow student convinced Hannah not to eat her lunch telling her that Hannah was “allergic”, causing Hannah to go the entire day without eating during school. Brought to the teachers’ attention, they agreed that children calling others “stupid” was not acceptable. They would work with the students to build social skills, but also suggested to the parents that no strategy would be 100% effective and it would be in Hannah’s interest to learn how to deal with these kinds of things and develop a thicker skin. Hannah’s parents worried that she already had a lot on her plate to “deal with”. They had hoped that schools, and Jewish schools in particular, would have a greater emphasis on socially healthy environments. The school has an anti-bullying program that begins in 5th grade . The guidance team oversees the antibullying program and helps to train the lower grade teachers in how to create a healthy social emotional classroom. In previous years, they punished ‘bullies” as incidents occurred and read a story to the class about how to treat each other. They tried the same strategies this year. First Grade: Hannah’s parents were definitely ready to move on to a new year. When they looked back at their daughter’s kindergarten year, they realized that she had made very positive strides socially in school compared to her last year of preschool, but they were frustrated that her teachers had not played a significant role in helping her push through academic situations in the classroom that caused anxiety. The school held meetings with them to think about which teachers would be the best fit for Hannah, hoping that the right set of teachers could make a big difference in Hannah’s anxiety level and academic growth. Hannah’s parents described Hannah’s anxiety to her new teachers. They and the director of educational support discussed some of the challenges from the year before, and talked about ways to keep communication open. They also requested that the child she had trouble with in kindergarten, Miriam, not be in her 1st grade class. As it turned out, Miriam also needed to be with the teachers selected for Hannah because of family history (siblings who had the teachers) – but because they were deemed the best fit for Hannah, the guidance counselor and the parents agreed that although they would be in the same class, steps could be taken so that Hannah and Miriam were not near each other all the time.


The school understood the parents’ desire to keep Hannah separate from Miriam, but felt that Miriam was also growing in her abilities and that the first grade teachers would be successful in helping her learn how to treat other children. The Guidance Counselor felt that children at this young age needed to learn how to get along with each other and not avoid difficult situations. A few weeks into the school year Hannah told her parents that seats were changed and she was now right next to Miriam. Days after that, she reported that she couldn’t eat her lunch because Miriam told her “she was allergic”. When the parents called the guidance counselor, who apologized and said, “the teacher had no way of knowing this was ever an issue.” In General Studies, separating them for lunch from that point on worked fine. The Hebrew teacher, however, said that she did not typically assign seats for lunch and was concerned about how it would impact her relationship with the class if she changed policy now. She agreed to increase her supervision during lunch to address this issue. In the meantime, Hannah screamed and cried every day at home prior to leaving for school. Although she didn’t particularly like kindergarten, this behavior was new. Her parents spoke with the teachers, hoping to discover what was going on. The teachers reported that at school Hannah seemed “perfectly fine” and they never would have guessed the mornings before school were problematic. Soon, things became worse at home and Hannah was throwing up every morning before school – another thing that had never happened before. The parents, hoping to help the school understand the extreme morning difficulties, explained that children with anxiety disorders spend a lot of time “practicing looking fine” – in Hannah’s case, she didn’t want any attention drawn to her, and she was afraid to speak up if something was wrong. They explained to the teachers that they might now know what was worrying Hannah, unless they made an effort to discover it. The teachers, in an effort to maintain open communication, emailed daily descriptions of Hannah’s day, but her parents did not find these reports helpful since they only said, she was doing “beautifully”. Hannah continued to throw up every morning and getting her to school was getting more and more challenging. Finally, one day Hannah got to school, walked through her classroom doorway, and froze. And no matter what the teachers and guidance counselor did, she didn’t move for an hour and a half. The school became very concerned. The teachers felt at a loss for how to help her and didn’t know what type of support they could give her to help ease her anxiety in the morning and help her transition back into the student they had been seeing for months in their classroom who was actively engaged. As Hannah’s visible anxiety symptoms that had been seen at home for weeks and weeks became apparent at school each morning, the teachers were at a complete loss as to how to help Hannah. They tried a variety of supports each morning but nothing was successful. At the parents’ request, the principal met with them and all agreed that they needed to try to get to the bottom of what was going on. They decided together on measurable goals, and for extra details of what happens in Hannah’s classes to be provided to them so that they could follow up at home. Three weeks later, at the end of November, the principal had not yet put these reporting systems into place. It was time for parent/teacher conferences, where it was reported that Hannah was behind grade level in everything, from reading to math to Hebrew. However, when the parents questioned these proposed report card grades since they had seen Hannah demonstrate success in these skills at home, 11

the school did not provide any documentation or assessments performed. The parents left the conference feeling that the teachers saw Hannah as a non-reader, despite their explanation that Hannah certainly could read and regularly did so at home. Her teachers said Hannah was receiving pull-out services with 3 other children – 2 boys, and Miriam. In fact, that was her group for each subject area, since they all received support. Hannah’s parents suggested that because of her anxiety, Hannah may demonstrate different skills at home and at school. Her teacher insisted, “we’re not seeing different things.” The Director of Educational Support Services suggested at this meeting that Hannah’s parents videotape her successfully reading at home so that the school could see the academic progress that was being described that was very different than the skills that her teachers or learning specialist saw at school. In the coming days, videotapes of Hannah reading at home indeed indicated that she had been placed in academic skill groups in her class that were much lower than her academic level. The principal did not get back to the parents, but Hannah’s group placements were changed and Hannah went to school much more willingly and stopped throwing up. Hannah’s parents were very upset about multiple aspects of the fall of first grade including the fact that it seemed to them that Hannah had resisted coming to school each day because she was misplaced academically. They were also upset about the lack of follow through from the principal and requested an apology. The principal viewed this as rehashing and suggested that the parents focus on moving forward. This left Hannah’s parents feeling that both Hannah’s and their struggles had been dealt with in a less than caring way. Her parents recognized that Hannah was no longer throwing up at home, was transitioning nicely into her classroom each morning and was now placed in academic skill groups that were at her level, but were emotionally traumatized by all the events of the first few months of school. And by the end of these meetings with the principal and teachers, her parents didn’t feel a part of the school community either. They reported that they didn’t feel like anyone cared if they stayed or left, despite being a 2nd generation school family, and despite having another child at the school. The parents shared their experience with the head of school and chairman of the board so they would know what had happened. They wanted them to know why they were considering taking Hannah out of the school. Most importantly, they wanted to know what would be different moving forward. Would they be fighting this same fight throughout their daughter’s day school career? Choices for the group presentation: • Imagine you would like to keep Hannah and create systems for children with anxiety entering the school. Where do you start? What would need to be true? • What steps can you take with Hannah while you are developing systems? Who needs to be around the table? • What if you decided to use this case study as a springboard for real change in the school? Describe the process you would use and what outcomes you would work towards. • Create a series of policies for the school that make the school more inclusive of students with social and emotional challenges. Case study written by: Meredith Polsky, Lenore Layman, Jane Taubenfeld Cohen , Rona Novick


Case Study 3: Professional Development as a Lever for School-Wide Change Background and Context Rabin High School is a 350 student Community High School. Rabin was founded 15 years ago to meet an increasing demand for a Jewish high school in the area. Rabin is the only Jewish high school within a 50 mile radius with students matriculating from a number of Jewish day schools in the area, as well as nonday school students. Rabin has built a reputation as a wonderful school with great teachers and practices that are designed to meet the mission of excellence in teaching and learning. There is great pride in the rigorous academic program and the attention given to balancing Judaic and secular studies so that students succeed in “getting it all” during a relatively long school day. In recent years the number of entering 9th graders has been in decline. There is some belief that more and more families are starting to choose public high schools because of their documented track records at serving a diverse student population. Family exit interviews indicate that Rabin’s admission director has told them that the school may not be a good match for certain students and they might consider a different school that could “better meet their child’s needs”. One family, in particular, was so angry about this occurrence that they started a Facebook campaign to shed light on the “exclusive and discriminatory nature of Rabin’s practices which are antithetical to Jewish community values”. The Board has asked the Head to explain why the enrollment is in steady decline and the Board Chair has requested a plan to improve the situation, to stem the tide of attrition, to increase the interest in the school. It is not clear what the whole Board’s stance is on accommodating special learning needs at the school. The Head has heard from some individual board members that they are concerned about Rabin’s reputation for attracting new students and ensuring excellent college placements if a concerted effort is made to change practices and attract more diverse learners. Staff Rabin has an administrative structure that features a Head of School, Assistant Head, a Director of Curriculum and Instruction, and department heads. Some of the staff has been recently hired while a core group consists of educators who have been with the school since its founding. Due to scheduling and budget constraints, 20% of the faculty holds part time teaching positions. After extensive classroom observations and discussions with faculty, staff, administrators, students and parents, the Director of Curriculum and Instruction has raised concerns to the Head of School about major differences in classroom teacher capacity to serve the range of students with diverse learning needs currently in the school. Most of the teachers prefer whole group instruction and only a few have the skills to integrate technology into the teaching learning process. No one is using on-line or blended teaching methodology. A small number of new teachers have expressed interest in employing some new teaching methods in their classes. However, most of the other teachers are suspicious of new initiatives.


The Head and the Director of Curriculum are concerned that some of the decrease in enrollment is due to parent dissatisfaction with the instructional methods of a large number of the teachers. They believe that to improve overall teaching and uphold its reputation for excellence, Rabin must shift its teaching approach and expectations with more focus on teacher support and supervision. The Student Population A growing number of students with different learning needs are either already enrolled or would like to enroll in the school. Anecdotal data indicates that as at least 20% (and possibly closer to 30%) of the current student body struggles to access the current curricula and many students require ongoing tutoring or extra help. Not all of those who request or access help have had formal testing and official education plans. It is common for students to “drop in” on a regular basis (some daily) to the support staff offices to get some form of extra help. These students range from those who are identified and are assigned to specific support staff as part of their “case-loads” to students who have no testing or plan but are struggling with a particular class or assignment and are seeking help because the class teacher has been unable to help them successfully access the lesson or curriculum. The Special Education Support Staff To attempt to meet the needs of its students, Rabin began to hire new support staff during the last several years. These staff members have disparate abilities and educational approaches. Members of the Support staff have recently complained to the Head that they are overwhelmed with the student drop-ins and that some of the “tutoring” that they are being asked to do should really be addressed by the classroom teachers. The most senior Support Staff teacher just gave notice, explaining to the Head that “teachers see us as a dumping ground for the students who are holding the rest of the class back – I can no longer comfortably and in good conscience support students in this kind of negative atmosphere”. To be sure, integrating the Support Staff into the overall curricular program has been challenging both due to a resistance among general education teachers toward collaboration with support staff, as well as student scheduling conflicts. In addition, the overall vision for meeting the needs of diverse learners has not been clearly articulated. Some regular education teachers do explicitly believe that students with ed plans are the "responsibility" of the specialists and do not feel equipped to meet their needs. Other educators are explicitly not interested in developing skills to be better equipped to meet diverse needs, believing that “kids like that do not belong in our school”. Still other teaching staff has expressed a desire to learn more about better serving the changing student population. In order to better develop a cohesive vision for meeting the needs of diverse learners, and to better integrate the support staff within the overall fabric of the school, Rabin recently hired a Support Staff Coordinator. It is hoped that this coordinator will stabilize and improve communications internally and with families. Professional Development at Rabin The Head of School has delegated the job of organizing and offering professional development opportunities to the Director of Curriculum. In general, Rabin has a poor track record with respect to professional development. PD has not been coordinated and the offerings have mostly been one time programs with limited or no follow up or feedback. PD experiences have often been “one size fits all” programs. Teachers report that they have had no time to implement strategies with the intensive 14

academic program already in place. The sense in the school is that teachers have generally rejected any new initiatives coming out of their PD experiences as another waste of their time. The local Federation is offering some funds for professional development, but it must focus on improving practice for serving students who struggle. Choices for the group presentation: Create a plan/proposal for improving the school that hinges on using professional development to make sustainable school change. Use the following questions to help you in doing this. • • • • • • • • • • • •

What is the problem? What are the major issues? Are these issues in keeping with a concern for the mission of the school? Are there assumptions about practice going forward that would create the desired outcome for the school? Could blended learning help the school in some way? How? In five years how would the school be different…. (give 3-5 outcomes) Why is this important? Who are the players that need to contribute to the change? What are the solutions/activities? Why are the solutions important and how can they be expressed to all in the community? How will the solutions be implemented? What will indicate that the solutions have succeeded? How much will this cost?

Case study written by: Nancy Kriegel, Alan Oliff


Consultants John D’Auria Teachers21 John D’Auria, Ed.D, moved from directing the Canton Public Schools as Superintendent to becoming President of Teachers21. In a career that has spanned four decades as a math teacher, guidance counselor, principal and superintendent, Dr. D’Auria has worked with hundreds of school leaders around sharpening the academic focus of school teams, developing a vibrant school culture, and managing conflict in the workplace.Dr. D’Auria’s research focuses on the ways in which the assumptions that people hold about intelligence significantly influence their learning. He has written several books on the subject and is a frequent speaker at national and regional educational conferences. Links to share with the iJED community: pdf

Elizabeth Fox Hidden Sparks Elizabeth Fox has been working as an agent of change in education for over twenty-five years. As a researcher, a staff developer, and a leader, Elizabeth has successfully led change efforts on a wide range of projects— from classroom teachers, leadership teams, to principals and superintendents/chancellors in both urban and suburban districts. Elizabeth has worked with the Education Alliance at Brown University and the on wholeschool reform projects and with the Center for the Professional Education of Teachers at Teachers College Columbia University on projects ranging from implementing Common Core Standards to establishing Collaborative Team Teaching, to using reading and writing to learn in all content areas. She is currently the Director of Education at Hidden Sparks. Links to share with the iJED community:


Rona Novick Yeshiva University Rona Novick, PhD is the Director of the Fanya Gottesfeld Heller Doctoral Program at the Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration at Yeshiva University and Clinical Professor of Child Psychology at North Shore Long-Island Jewish Medical Center. Dr. Novick also serves as co-educational director of the Hidden Sparks program, providing consultation to day schools and Yeshivas. Dr. Novick developed the Alliance for School Mental Health at North-Shore Long Island Jewish Medical Center and served as its director for eight years, authoring the BRAVE bully prevention program for schools. Dr. Novick is a frequent and much sought speaker for both professional and general audiences. Her wit, warmth and engaging style, coupled with extensive knowledge in the fields of psychology, parenting, education and family life have earned her recognition nationally. She is the author of a book for parents: Helping Your Child Make Friends, and editor of the book series Kids Don’t Come With Instruction Manuals. Dr. Novick has made numerous appearances on local and national television and radio. As the mother of three sons, Dr. Novick credits much of her knowledge and skill to on the job training. Links to share with the iJED community:

Alan Oliff Initiative for Day School , Combined Jewish Philanthropies Alan Oliff has served as the Director of the Initiative for Day School Excellence at the Combined Jewish Philanthropies (CJP) since 2008. Before joining CJP Dr. Oliff held a number of important positions in Boston area public schools. For ten years he was the Superintendent of Schools in Weston, Massachusetts. Prior to that, he worked for thirteen years in Wayland, Massachusetts initially as the Director of Special Education and then as the Assistant Superintendent. His early career included work as a special education teacher and program coordinator in both elementary and secondary schools. Dr. Oliff’s specific areas of interest include strategic planning for schools and school systems, establishing innovative and inclusive school programs, creating and measuring school excellence, and fostering ways for teachers, administrators, and parents to work collaboratively on school improvement. Links to share with the iJED community: 17

David Pelcovitz Yeshiva University Dr. David Pelcovitz holds the Gwendolyn and Joseph Straus Chair in Psychology and Education at Yeshiva University’s Azrieli Graduate School where he also teaches pastoral psychology courses He also serves as Special Assistant to the President of Yeshiva University. Before assuming his position on the faculty of Yeshiva University, Dr. Pelcovitz was a clinical professor of psychology in psychiatry at New York University School of Medicine and director of psychology at North Shore University Hospital-NYU School of Medicine. Dr. Pelcovitz has published and lectured extensively on a variety of topics related to child and adolescent behavioral problems. Links to share with the iJED community: The Road Back Dramatic Film on Teen Anxiety/Depression

Allison Zmuda Competent Classroom Allison Zmuda has been in education for 20 years. She got her start as a public high school Social Studies teacher in Newtown, CT and then shifted her role to author and education consultant. She has authored six books, including The Competent Classroom (2001), Transforming Schools (2004), and Breaking Free from Myths about Teaching and Learning (2010). Her latest project is the cofounder and curator of a site designed to inspire learning that is challenging, doable, and worthy of the attempt. Her seventh book is due out next year on the subject of personalized learning. Links to share with the iJED community: Websites Blog posts 18

Table Networking Monday 9-9:40 AM A structured opportunity to network with and learn from your fellow Learning Lab participants and from the consultants. Every five minutes you can visit a different table and learn about programs, models, resources and expertise from members of the Supporting Diverse Learners Lab planning committee and consultants:

Faye Friedman & Aviva Weisbord

Shemesh, Baltimore

Ellen Maiseleff

Opening the Doors, Detroit

Rabbi Elisha Paul

Sulam, Washington DC

Nancy Kriegel & Alan Oliff

Initiative for Day School Excellence, CJP, Boston B’Yadenu Project

Sharon Goldstein & Beth Crastnopol

Gateways: Access to Jewish Education, Boston B’Yadenu Project

Elizabeth Fox & Debbie Niderberg

Hidden Sparks

Rona Novick

Yeshiva University, Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education

David Pelcovitz

Yeshiva University, Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education

Allison Zmuda

Competent Classroom

If any other Lab participants are interested in sharing your programs, resources or expertise at this session, please contact Ilisa Cappell or Arlene Remz on Sunday


Supporting Diverse Learners Lab Planning Committee Arlene Remz, Gateways: Access to Jewish Education (chair) Ilisa Cappell, Schechter Network Jane Taubenfeld Cohen, Yeshiva University Institute for University-School Partnership Lauren Applebaum, American Jewish University Howard Blas, Camp Ramah in New England, Tikvah Program Beth Crastnopol, Gateways: Access to Jewish Education Elizabeth Fox, Hidden Sparks Fayge Friedman, Shemesh, Baltimore Sharon Goldstein, Gateways: Access to Jewish Education Lenore Layman, Charles E. Smith Day School Jeff Lichtman, Yachad Gaby Kaplan-Mayer, Jewish Learning Ventures, Philadelphia Nancy Kriegel, CJP Initiative for Day School Excellence Ellen Maiseloff, Opening the Doors, Detroit Ben Mann, Solomon Schechter School of Manhattan Debbie Niederberg , Hidden Sparks Rona Novick, Yeshiva University Elisha Paul, Sulam School Meredith Polsky, Matan Alan Oliff, CJP Initiative for Day School Excellence Ilana Ruskay-Kidd, Shefa School Sara Rubinow Simon, Jewish Special Education International Consortium Aviva Weisbord, Shemesh, Baltimore Tikvah Wiener, Frisch School and RealSchool Allison Zmuda, Competent Classroom Judy Zorfass, Education Development Center, Inc.


iJED: Supporting Diverse Learners Case Study Protocol Case Study Topic: ___________________________________ Group Members:

Day 1. Begin with an icebreaker (ideas attached) that introduces participants to each other and focuses on activating thinking about the upcoming task. (10 min.) Look briefly at the 3-day agenda and then proceed: 1. Read the case study: Individual reading of the case study (10 min.) What are your first thoughts….what’s going on here, what part speaks to you (private self-reflection, write notes) Use sticky notes and highlighters to take notes OR, if reading an electronic version, take notes with Track Changes. Note information that will highlight the problem and its causes/effects. 2. Defining the problem(s): Participants work to unpack the case and define the problem(s) for focus. This will involve looking deeply at any nuances to the issue(s) at hand and closely examining any artifacts to inform planning. One or two of the pre-assigned consultants will be listening/observing this part of the process. Assign a note taker to record participant responses electronically or on chart paper. (20 min.) The following questions can guide the discussion and work to keep participants focused on the task: • What do the characters believe to be true; what do you believe to be true • When reading this, what is the scenario telling us about the stated situation? Can you ‘read between the lines?’ • What was not stated that you think might be relevant? • What assumptions seem to be operating? What do the characters believe to be true that may be influencing the outcomes? • What factors may be causing the problem? At the end of 20 minutes, the group should have defined a list of problems/issues. This can be recorded on the Google Doc (see end of document for link) provided, on the word document, or on the hard copy form. The following is a list of sample problem statements: • Teachers lack the training, skills, and strategies, as well as continued supervision and support from their educational leaders in order to be translated into practical implementation in our classrooms. • Many students are unavailable for learning because of high levels of anxiety and distractibility. 3. Consultation: A pre-assigned consultant will now help by asking guiding questions and suggesting resources to help promote deeper analysis of the problem. (If the group is larger than 6, the group can divide into two sections and work with two different consultants.) For example, if the team has defined the problem as, ‘Teachers need more training to improve their skills in working with diverse learners,’ the consultant may help them look deeper to determine why this is the case. Is it a lack of training or a result of inadequate coaching? What area lacks the needed training? The consultant can also help the group choose which problem or which part of a problem to focus on for the purposes of this lab. (30 min.) Note: Day 1 will be focused on defining the problem(s). Arriving at this will be crucial in knowing how to proceed with an explicit plan. If the particular case study involves a very discreet problem that takes less analysis, the case manager may choose to move the group forward to the plan listed for day 2 and spend more time working on the action plan.

Day 2 1. Briefly, review the problem statements. (10 min) • Is the problem clearly stated? • If there are multiple problems, decide on a focus for the final report. 2. Without evaluation, brainstorm possible action steps (resources, strategies, actions) that could lead towards positive outcomes. (20 min.) 3. Consultations: A second pre-assigned consultant will work with your group as you look closely at the possible strategies for addressing the issue and possibly recommend resources to explore now or later. For each action plan, use the suggested questions to help evaluate the efficacy of the plan. If you would like, use a visual such as the one below, to record your thinking on chart paper or electronically on the linked Google doc (see end of document for link). The case manager could choose from the following options for structuring the time. Choice may depend on the particular case study and the number of participants. • Break into pairs or small groups and assign each group an action plan to explore. • If there are multiple problems, break into groups and assign each group a problem. • If the group is small (fewer that 6), participants could work individually and then share with other members for input. • If time permits, you may bring in another consultant or member of the networking lab. When considering potential actions steps (resources, strategies, training) for addressing the problem, ask: Do we need to clarify the proposed action plan? • Do we fully understand it? • What potential challenges will arise? • What potential benefits and outcomes do we expect? • What questions does this raise for us? • What assumptions and values underlie this proposed action plan?

4. Work with another consultant and/or with others (e.g. participant from networking activity)

Day 3 Options: • Group work on your own • Invite a consultant to join you • Invite a lab participant from the networking session Choose an action plan to propose and develop a presentation. For the purposes of this lab, it will be important to narrow the focus so that the task can be completed within the time allotted. Include the following and use consultants in your planning: • Timeline • Who will lead the initiative • Resources • Funding if needed • How will time be allotted? • Measurable goals Create a presentation as per any instructions on the case study. Gear this to a specific audience (teaching staff, board, students…). Some suggested presentations are: • • • • •

A proposal to the Board presented as letter, Powerpoint, or written document. A proposal to an authentic or imaginary funder presented as letter, Powerpoint, or written document. An outline for Professional Development including resources and budget. Role play a meeting, presentation, discussion Create a presentation designed to engage the staff in your plan

(1 hour) Google Doc links Case Study 1 Case Study 2 Case Study 3

Role of the Case Managers: • • • •

Facilitate the group work using the case study protocol while responding flexibly to the needs of the group. During discussion, push participants to think deeply about the complexities of the issues. Respectfully identify and name points of disagreement while keeping the discussion focused on the task. Remind participants of the goals of the learning lab and that this is a vehicle for learning about tools, strategies, and processes – not simply a way to solve the specific problem of the case study.

Possible Ice breaking activities for the first session:

This icebreaker should serve the purpose of introducing group members and activating some thinking about the topic of reaching diverse learners. It should take no more than 5-10 minutes. Here are some suggestions:

Imagine: Put a chair in the middle of the circle. Imagine a student in your school who you are struggling to provide services for. Introduce yourself, your school/position and say, “I am thinking about _______(name that student).” Through this short activity, participants will learn everyone’s name and where they work as well as begin to think about the upcoming task.

That’s Me: Make a series of statements and participants stand and say, “That’s me” • • • • • •

I am a classroom teacher. I am a school administrator. I have worked in Jewish Education for 3 years or more. I have worked in Jewish Education for 10 years or more. I have been to at least one workshop on Differentiated Instruction. I have had at least one student in my class/school who was counseled out because we were unable to meet his unique learning needs.

Magic Wand: You can use almost any stick as a magic wand! We have imbued the wand with a magic power. This wand can change any aspect of how your school effectively reaches all learners. The wand is passed around the room, and the participants say their name and explain what one thing they would use the wand to change about their school to help reach a wider range of learners.

iJED: Supporting Diverse Learners Case Study Protocol 1 Day 1: Define the Problem(s):

l Day 2: In evaluating the proposed action plan(s), consider the following questions: Action plan being evaluated:

Questions to address: Do we need to clarify the proposed action plan? Do we fully understand it? What potential challenges will arise? What potential benefits and outcomes do we expect? What questions does this raise for us? What assumptions and values underlie this proposed solution?

On a scale of 1-10, predict the efficacy of applying this action plan: Why?

Day 3: Outline your presentation:

Defining the Problem


What do the characters believe to be true; what do you believe to be true?

When reading this, what is the scenario telling us about the stated situation? Can you ‘read between the lines?

What was not stated that you think might be relevant?

What assumptions seem to be operating? What do the characters believe to be true that may be influencing the outcomes?

What factors may be causing the problem?

iJED2014 Learning Lab Resources: Supporting Diverse  

Presented by: Arlene Remz, Gateways:Access to Jewish Education

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