Braat, M. (2021). Evolving Inclusive Learning: From Retrofitting Disability to Designing for Variability. The Organizational Improvement Plan at Western University, 185. Retrieved from https://ir.lib.uwo.ca/oip/185
The problem of practice addressed in this organizational improvement plan is that curriculum is not currently interpreted, designed, and delivered to be inclusive of the range of learner variability present in Sursum Corda School Division classrooms. Although all students are physically included in SCSD classrooms, the learning of those who cannot assimilate to current instructional practices is generally supported through alternative, and often disconnected, practices and materials. Researched and experienced concerns with this approach include an increased potential to isolate, limit, or stigmatize targeted students and the inhibition of innovative instructional practices more generally. This OIP aims for a divisional shift toward curriculum and instructional beliefs, practices, structures, and resources that support all students to access, participate, and make learning progress within the general education classroom and curriculum. Current divisional structures and initiatives that aim to support inclusive education will be discussed. This plan was developed through a review of the literature on inclusive education, including the impacts of educator beliefs about learning and learners, and an examination of documents and materials produced and disseminated by the provincial Ministry of Education. A disability studies in education lens is used to understand current practices and beliefs for supporting learner variability and to present a vision of using the universal design for learning framework to inclusively extend quality instructional practices to a broader range of learners. Tools and tactics of adaptive and inclusive leadership are used to present a plan guided by research in the field of implementation science.
Braat, M. (2014). Building the Plane as We Fly It: My Personal Journey to Understanding Inclusive Education for Students with Complex Needs. Masters of Education Capstone Project at University of Lethbridge.
What educators believe about students with complex needs affects how school systems design and implement their educational program. Many adults in this complex population continue to spend lonely adult days in publicly funded, often static, segregated facilities and programs rather than working and living dynamic, self-determined lives in community. Within every school, there exists the capacity to impact this projection for and with this population of students. Since the early 1990s, research has consistently demonstrated the short and long term academic and social benefits of inclusive education for both students with complex needs and their classmates. Despite this, schools continue to struggle to create effective educational programs that facilitate a lifetime of personally meaningful learning and inclusion. This paper is a synthesis of the research related to inclusive educational programming for students with complex needs. This paper is also a personal and professional reflection on the experiences involved in facilitating the beginning steps of a movement toward a more inclusive approach of educating students with complex needs across a school division. Both research and experience demonstrate that this type of change must be more than structural. Sustainability of authentic inclusive programming for students with complex needs involves overcoming exclusion and increasing participation and learning in the same spaces and processes as other students. Inclusive values and beliefs must be the foundation for the work that is done. Educating students with complex needs is about continual and constructive reinvention with the goal of K-12 education being that of successfully moving up the continuum to increasingly more inclusive learning and experiences. In this way, our schools position students with complex needs for a high quality of life both now and in the future.
Braat, M. (2007). The Life that Chose Me in Gifts: Mothers Reflect on How Children with Down Syndrome Enrich Their Lives. Kathryn Lynard Soper (Ed.). Woodbine House. pp 263-267.
This book tells the story of 64 individuals, all born with Down syndrome. The focus of these stories, written from mothers’ perspectives, is the person. The editor has organized the chapters according to the universal gifts that all children bring including respect, strength, delight, perspective and love. While many of the mothers reflect on the challenges they have experienced relating to societal attitudes, medical complications and altered expectations, the universal gifts that accompanied the birth of their children remains consistent in their stories. The book aims to provide a source of support, encouragement and joy for new parents.