Preschool Inclusion

We are excited to share an ongoing professional development opportunity with you! On February 2, 2021 the Early Childhood Center (ECC) will launch a free four-month webinar series, What it Takes to Implement Effective Preschool Inclusive Services, open to all early education providers and administrators. It will address evidence-based practices proven to effectively include children who are at risk or have disabilities in early education settings.

February 2021 through May 2021, the ECC will post a weekly, pre-recorded, short (approximately 30 minutes), self-guided webinar the first three weeks of the month, covering the topic's breadth. The fourth week will include a live forum hosted by an ECC staff member, registration required. Although the live forum is not a presentation per se, it is an opportunity for reflection and discussion of the topic for that month.

At the end of each recorded webinar and the live forum a link to a survey will be provided. When the survey is completed a certificate for Professional Growth Points will be emailed.

Adopting High-Quality Inclusive Service Models: Starting Points

Part I

By Dr. Michael Conn-Powers

Webinar Survey Link for Certificate

Description of the video:

Hi, welcome to our initial webinar as part of our Early Childhood Center webinar series. What it takes to implement effective, inclusive preschool services. What do we mean by effective and inclusive services? When we have four criteria. For the preschoolers with disabilities, we want those services, special education-related services, to be provided within the regular early childhood classroom settings and routines. There isn't pull out. Services aren't being delivered elsewhere. They are embedded within the regular preschool setting. Second, we want children receive the level and intensity of services and supports that match their individual learning needs. Just because we're looking at including kids with disabilities and regular classrooms. We also want to make sure that they receive the intensity of supports and services that we provide in special education. Third, we want to make sure that those regular education settings provide all of the social and learning opportunities that are available for all children. We want children to be fully included as members of that classroom. And then finally, we want children to learn. It's important for them to be a part of the mainstream and have the opportunity to be fully included. And we want to ensure that they are also demonstrating substantial growth in their learning and development. Why are we talking about this? Some of you may have seen this before. It's called a scatter plot. And this is based on Indiana's data in which we chart the percentage of children receiving inclusive services. This is preschool-aged children. That's along the bottom axis, and along with the percentage of children who make substantial progress according to the federal outcomes that are state measures. Now, each dot in this scatter plot represents a school district here in Indiana. And when you look at this, you can see that many of our school districts provide services to well under half of all preschool-aged children with disabilities. This is a problem. When we look at how well our state does in comparison to other states. We are substantially behind and educate very few of our preschoolers with disabilities in regular education settings. Hi, I'm Michael Kahn powers. I'm director of the Early Childhood Center at the Indiana institute on disability and community at Indiana University. And I'm the first presenter in our series and I'll be talking about how we can go about adopting high-quality inclusive service models. And talk about some of the starting points to get new efforts underway. Before I start, just a little bit of background information. As you may know, the Early Childhood Center is one of seven centers at the Indiana institute on Disability and Community. The institute covers a lifespan for people of all ages with disabilities. We happened to attend to the beginning of that lifespan. A big emphasis at our center and in fact at all centers at the Institute is this notion of promoting research to practice. How can we take what we're learning and research and translate that into better practices and better services for all individuals with disabilities. I have three distinct goals over the next four weeks. One, I want us to imagine special education services and supports that not only foster the kinds of skills that we typically include in our IEPs, but also to think about the skills and opportunities that support children's membership and engagement, in home and community and regular early childhood settings. It requires a different skill set and it requires us to rethink how we provide services to give children the opportunities to develop those skills that support membership and engagement. Second, I'm going to introduce you to the field of implementation science that looks at how programs and districts make changes and adopt new practices and service models. And finally, using that implementation science framework, I'll make you aware of the initial steps you can take to begin to implement and effect change in your local district. Now we also tried to reference our work with the Division for Early Childhood's Recommended Practices. And I've identified three practices there that get at the importance of leadership and advocating for policies and resources that reflect best practices in early childhood special education. And specifically with a focus on those policies and practices that support more inclusive services. Okay. So we're going to think of this as a journey. And I want to share what our agenda will be for the next three weeks, with the fourth week being an opportunity for you to join us in a live forum and talk about some of the content I'm sharing today. And over the next couple of weeks after that. First, we need to think about our destination. We're looking at a journey. And in this designing of inclusive and high-quality and effective inclusive service models, we need to think about what that looks like and what that means. And so I want to talk about that today as well as introduce that roadmap for change. Then in the next session, I'm going to talk about how we can prepare for that journey. What are the initial steps we need to take if we are serious about effecting change within our own school district and community. Then finally, I want to talk about how we can begin to design and implement a plan for change. It's not an easy effort to move from a program in which the majority of preschoolers with disabilities are served in segregated environments to one that's more inclusive. It takes a lot of work. Okay, let's get started. So I want us to think about or maybe even rethink what our destination is, what is it that we want to create? Taking time at the beginning to really think through what is it that we want to accomplish? What is it that we want our program to look like as it relates to providing high-quality educational services for preschoolers with disabilities. Now the rethinking comes from the fact that when we look at what we've done over the past several years, well, you know what? We've been doing the same thing over the past. Well, I think I only show six years here, but it's probably closer to ten or fifteen years. Reality is that most of our preschoolers with disabilities are served in segregated preschool classrooms. Only about 30%, three out of ten children, have the opportunity to receive special education and related services within a regular early childhood program or classroom, or family daycare home. When I've shared this scatter plot in the past, I've had some educators and therapists say, wait a minute. There's quite a few of us that are making an incredible impact on these preschoolers with disabilities. Yeah, who were providing services that are in segregated, self-contained preschool classrooms, but they're making great gains. Is that's so bad? Well, first, there are important skills that children are not learning when they're served primarily on a segregated or self-contained preschool classroom. One, children aren't learning how to generalize the skills that we're teaching and them in the self-contained classrooms. To be able to use those skills out in regular everyday life, out in the community, or in a very busy and hectic classroom with 20 other preschoolers. And we know that generalization can be a challenge for many children with disabilities. And when we restrict and control the setting in which children are learning those new skills, makes it very hard for them to successfully generalize the skills that we've taught. Another thing, children not learning or not learning how to attend and learn and engage in a classroom with 20 other children. Many of our preschool self-contained classrooms have small class sizes. We do that for the good intention of being able to provide more individualized instruction. But the reality is, we're not preparing children to be able to learn and cope and manage themselves in a very busy and hectic kindergarten classroom of 20 to 25 other children. We're not giving them that opportunity to learn those skills. They are not learning how to function in a large group setting without them being always told what to do. They're not provided the opportunity to learn skills about how to follow directions during large group time with 25 other children. The opportunity to learn how to appropriately wait turns and share materials and make choices when there isn't the level of adult direction and supervision that they're going to get in a regular preschool or kindergarten setting. Also, there are several important opportunities that children miss out on. They miss out on the opportunity to develop friendships. Have the opportunity to develop friendships with children that they might accompany throughout all their school years. We restrict that. I don't know if you're familiar, but having friends is a very powerful intervention in and of itself. Research shows that when students with disabilities have good friendships, it helps contribute to long-term outcomes. Better academic skills, better high-school graduation rates, better adult employment status, greater chance for independent living, and so on. This opportunity for friendships and a membership gives them the time to be able to be a part of something that will help carry and support them throughout life. Finally, we might have unintended negative impact on families. Think about the messages that families might be receiving. When we meet with them during those case conferences, are brand new families coming into the system and their children are needing special education services. And they're asking about services occurring within the child's childcare or preschool setting in the community. And we're making the recommendation that that's not an appropriate one. What is it that families might be hearing? What impact does that have on families own perceptions and hopes and expectations for their sons and daughters. I'm going to borrow from the work of one of my colleagues, Dr. Katie Herron. She has a research project going on right now where she's talking to a number of families of young children, very young children with disabilities, asking about the expectations they have for their children as they get older and get a sense of what influences those expectations, their hopes and their dreams for their sons and daughters. And one of the things that we're learning and we learn from research with families of, of older children, students is that we can have a powerful influence in lessening the kinds of expectations that families have when they hear that we're recommending that self-contained classroom. Because they think that their children will learn better or they're not ready for that regular preschool setting. That this will provide a much more controlled and careful setting to provide that intensive education that their sons and daughters need. Families may begin to think about what their children are and are not capable of doing and learning. They may be picking up on the fact that we have some negative connotations associated with the child's disability. Rather than looking at the wonderful gifts and strengths that each child brings to the situation. And what we can be doing and saying can nurture much more positive and ambitious expectations for families. Katie shares this quote and I'm going to, I'm going to borrow it. It's based on research that IV has summarized. And they found that when influential people in the child's life do not believe that their children have a potential to achieve a specific outcome. It is unlikely that the outcome will be realized. So I want you to think about the impact that you're having on families. And i know unintentionally, but what is it that families hear? So I'd like to invite you to think of an alternative that rather than repeating our past journeys. And continuing to do what we've always done, in which we do serve the overwhelming majority of preschoolers in separate, segregated services. That maybe we rethink that. Perhaps we consider more inclusive service models instead that provide children and families the opportunities to expect more and learn more. Now, to do that, we've got some important things we need to attend to. We need to be able to identify early childhood settings and determine how those services, how we will provide services within those settings. And then knowing that we're going to be partnering with our regular Early Childhood colleagues, we need to be clear about our roles and expectations. When we do this, we begin to form a more clear and defined picture of the service models and practices that we want to adopt. It's an important first step. Let's go ahead and get started. Okay. First step is, let's think about the early childhood settings that we want to partner with and placing children with disabilities and providing special education-related services. In Indiana, we've seen three options. Public school base, pre-K programs, working with community partners, including preschool and child care and Head Start. Let's talk about each of these. Ok. For a number of our school districts. They're already providing public school base, Pre-K, pre-kindergarten, or preschool services for children without disabilities. And so right off the bat, we have a natural partner in which we can have the conversation about including our children with disabilities in those classrooms and negotiating how we provide special education and related services within those settings. So that's a, that's an excellent place to start. Another place to start if that's not an option for you, is to partner with our community preschool and child care programs. We have a very vibrant childcare system throughout the state of Indiana. In this map, I'm making you aware of the child care resource and referral providers and service systems that exist in our state. This is a service system that is available to families and helping families find high-quality childcare. But it's also a good resource. And helping who might be some of the preschool and child care programs in your own community with whom you might partner. Another resource that's offered. By our state's office of early childhood and out of school learning is the childcare finder. Again, this is a resource for families and helping them to find high-quality childcare or On My Way Pre-K programs. But this is a resource that you can use, again, to find high-quality early childhood programs with whom you might partner in your community. Finally, another important partner are our local Head Start programs. Head start programs located throughout the state. And Head Start has been around for decades. They are a high-quality preschool program that's available for children living with low-income families. They have a strong history and strong investment in providing high-quality services. And they have a long standing mandate to include and serve children with disabilities in their preschool classrooms. So they are and should be a strong and willing partner. Now, with Head Start and preschool and child care programs that I've talked about. There are many pluses, but, but there are also some challenges. And I want to make you aware of those challenges as you go about trying to find regular childhood partners to work with. One, for some of these programs, some of the teachers may not have a lot of experience and training. and the perception that they have the skills to effectively care for and educate children with disabilities. They don't have the same education and training that you've had. And so they may be leery and feel that they won't be able to do as good of a job. And what you'll be doing is to provide them with a level of assurance as well as support and knowing that they can do that. Also, many of these programs may not have, if they have had children with disabilities in their classrooms, they may not have had children with more significant disabilities. So again, as you start to meet with and develop these relationships, you need to also convey your role in providing the kind of training and support that will enable each of these programs effectively care for and educate all young children. Next, we need to talk about the models, what are special education and related services going to look like in one of those settings? And from our work looking at successful programs. Here in Indiana, we've identified four primary models for how special education-related services are provided. And I want to talk about each of those so that you have an idea of what might be a model or models that would work for you in your own community. Probably by and large, this is the most common model. We talked about, Push-in services. That's a term that I think is unique to Indiana. And the idea is that as the special educator or speech and language pathologist, we provide services within that regular classroom, push those services into that classroom. So depending on the activity, whether small group or free choice time or large group, we find the opportunity to take and work with those individual children on their IEP goals and objectives and provide the intensity and types of services that those children need to acquire the goals from their IP. Now the strengths of this model are one, the folks that have the greatest expertise use the special educator or therapist, are the one that's providing the service. You're there in the classroom working with the child and providing the services based on that child's IEP. the downside that model is if you're the only one that's doing that, then there's not an opportunity for the other teachers in that classroom to learn about what you're doing and what they could be doing to support that child's learning and development. It, it doesn't build the capacity of the classroom teacher to take on some of those responsibilities and learn some of the intervention strategies and techniques. And so we run the risk of children being a guest in that classroom rather than a full member. That the classroom teacher is responsible for. Another model that we see. And some districts around the state as this itinerant or consultative services model. Here the focus is on providing training and technical assistance and support to the classroom teacher or teachers, and giving them the know-how to be able to appropriate care for an educate children with disabilities. You're coming in as a consultant. You have expertise, you're familiar with the child, the child's IEP, and you're using that to share that information with the classroom teacher. So the focus now shifts. It is around building the capacity of the classroom teacher to effectively educate all of the kids in his or her classroom. Rather than on a push-in model where you're taking that responsibility now you're, you're sharing that responsibility. Plus what's nice about this model. Another strength is it provides sort of a, a relationship, a problem-solving relationship. The classroom teacher knows that he or she is not alone, and then as questions or challenges arise. They know they have a partner that they can meet with to problem-solve. Now there are downside. There are downsides to this model also. One, it's not easy. This takes and requires a good deal of organization and interpersonal skills. You have to know how to be a good collaborative partner. You have to know how to consult without being bossy and directive. You have to look at this as a mutual relationship in which two brains are coming together to plot out the best strategy. Not you as the special educator, a therapist always in this role of, of telling them what to do and how to do it. And, and that takes a great deal of skill. Another downside or possible weakness. If this is your only Soul Strategy, there may be times when an extra pair of hands or an extra pair of skilled hands are needed in that classroom. Both to model the interventions that are needed as well as to provide that support. So if you rely totally on a consultative or itinerant model, there may be times where children on your caseload are going to need a little bit more. A third model is co-teaching. In this model, your co-teaching there, both of you in the classroom who have responsibilities toward delivering education. It could be that your co-teaching, like in this picture where it's team teaching, you're both leading a large group activity. And you're there either leading the activity or supporting the classroom teacher who's leading the activity. Or maybe during free choice time, you take one of the centers. And that's the opportunity for you to provide education or therapy. And you're doing that in the context of the regular routines of class. And other children may be involved too. And in fact, maybe you're enlisting the support of peers because peers can be a powerful interventionist also. So the strengths there, it provides a wonderful opportunity for you to do push-in. But it's not just you taking the individual child to the corner and working just with them. You're working with a child. In the context of the overall classroom. You provide the opportunity to model good special education and related services, strategies and techniques for everybody to see and learn. Children are getting the kinds of intervention and support that they need. And it's a great way to improve the overall quality of the classroom. We have a lot we can offer as good educators and of ourselves. The weaknesses to this model, the downsides. Again, it can be difficult to implement. It does require a good deal of collaboration in a classroom. Teacher needs to feel comfortable with you being a member of her classroom and sharing some of those responsibilities. And it does require some advance planning coordination. You can't just show up and kind of wing it. You need to have an idea what the lesson plan involves and, and what your role is going to be and, and, and the classroom teachers role is going to be in order for this to be executed well. Finally, the, the last model when we don't see this one very often, we've seen it in a couple of school districts. And, and it's where school districts took a very strong leadership role and they decided, we're not going to have special ed classrooms. We're not going to have regular ed classrooms per se. We are going to have preschool classrooms. And those preschool classrooms are staffed with early childhood special educators. And the makeup of the classroom, again, less than half of the children or children with disabilities. And they're usually 20, there's usually 20 kids in that classroom. So it's a regular preschool classroom in which children with disabilities are members of that classroom and there's only one teacher, and that teacher is the teacher of record and providing special education services. And they are teaching all the children. In fact, they're wearing both hats, both the regular early childhood educator hat as well as the special educator hat. Or major strengths of this model. It almost provides an ideal vision of how we might want early education to look like and start to tear down these artificial boundaries between regular education and special education. That is, we're creating classrooms that are universally designed. They work and strive to work for all children. And we put people in those classrooms that have good early childhood curriculum skills as well as good special education skills. And so that children, regardless of if they're identified and on an IEP or not, have someone in that classroom that has skill to provide those multiple tiers of intervention and technical support. The challenges to that. It's it can be inexpensive model. It you know, it it requires districts to be very creative about how they fund it. And recognize that they're going to be blending or braiding different levels of funding to support those classrooms. And and what those days look like. So I think it's a, it's a great model. And one seriously look at. But you need to know there are challenges that come with it. Once you've defined where and the service models are models that you're looking at. You need to spend just a little bit of time. Especially you're using the first three of the four models for providing services. You need to think about what your role is as the special educator therapists and with classroom teachers role and spend some time in conversations with the classroom teacher to negotiate and make sure there's a mutual and shared understanding of those roles. Because now we're starting to look at more collaborative service models. And while it sounds great, it's something that's hard. It takes a good deal of skill and it takes time to have those conversations to meet and plan outside of class time so that both of you have a clear sense of who's doing what. And what each can expect of each other when, when you're in that classroom. So again, if you're talking about push-in services, you're gonna probably be the primary teacher for those children with disabilities. But it begs the question, what is it that you want the classroom teacher to take responsibility? I mean, they are providing a regular classroom experience, but are they going to be involved in that in that child's education and helping them reach their IEP goals and objectives. If you're using a more consultative model, well, it's recognizing that both of you are consultants. In face, you need to be thinking of the regular classroom teacher as a consultant to you because one of the things that she has that you probably don't have is an understanding of what a regular early childhood classroom should look like and how children should behave and function in a group of 20 children and what are typical expectations? Okay? And, you know, she's the primary teacher. And so again, within a consultative model, you need to be negotiating those roles and again, respecting what each other brings to this consultative partnership and relationship. In a co-teaching, well now you're both primary teachers. And so there than the skill is that advance planning and preparation where you negotiate. You know, am I my leading the circle time and you're supporting or is it vice versa? During free choice, where am I and who, am working with and where are you and who you're working with? And so it takes a great deal of coordination and planning. And then, you know, if it's a one teacher model where you are both the regular education classroom teacher and the special educator. Well then some of these issues are moot and you're the the end all, you do it all. Okay, we've talked about thinking about our destination at this step. Thinking about where are you going to provide services? Who are you going to partner with? What the service model is going to look like? Negotiating roles, starting to think those through. Is going to be really important. In essence, you're starting to think about, alright, what are the programs and service models that we might want to adopt in our school district. And spending some time in thinking that through and starting to get into the nitty gritty is going to help in bringing the rest of the people on board and starting to look at and explore change. I want to talk about and introduce a roadmap for that change. And we'll spend more time talking about this roadmap in the next two sessions. But I want to, I want to just touch on it here. So this roadmap involves stages of implementation. We, we borrow from a science called implementation science that looks at how well districts, agencies and programs adopt new service models and adopt new practices. And they find that there's a science for how that can happen. Very, very well. Now we borrow, this is not something we've created our shop. But we've borrowed a lot from the National Implementation Research Network located at the Frank Porter Graham Institute at the University of North Carolina and Chapel Hill. And they have a wonderful website with lots of helpful materials and in fact, even some learning hubs that talk about an implement, implementation science and bringing about change. And one of the projects that's been around for a long time is there sits up model. And in that project they've looked at the state implementation and scaling up. They work with states who are interested in taking on a particular service model and how a state can support change throughout the state and in supporting districts to adopt new practices and models. And so these are the folks that, that we look to kinda help us understand how we can translate what they're learning. To perhaps look at our own changes here in Indiana. So here's the roadmap. I'm just going to give you a high level overview and then we'll get into more next week. It really looks at the stages of implementation. You know that it's a, it's a long-term multi-year process. And, and the important, the first step is probably the most important and I'll spend time talking about it next week. And that's exploration. That's bringing all the right people together. You know, you've got a great idea. You've really started to spend time thinking about and implementing an inclusive service model that provides high quality education and related services to preschoolers with disabilities. But now we need to chew on it. We need to explore it. We need to bring people together and assess how well will that model work and our school system? What is it that we are going to need to change? What is it that we're going to need to bring into our system? Whether it's professional development, learning new strategies, or looking at how we fund our programs. You're going to need to bring in leadership. So exploration is kind of getting our act together and, and truly looking at the model and the practices we want to adopt. Once we've done that and we have our eyes are wide open where we're making informed decision. Then we need to start to work towards installation. And the idea there is, what is it that we do to begin to put the services and supports in place? Okay. Whether it's professional development, that's usually a big one. But it's all planning and infrastructure and funding and leadership. What is it that we need to put in place so when we start to move into implementation, we have all of our ducks in a row. In initial implementation the idea there is, instead of doing this across the district, perhaps we pilot, let's identify some initial school, buildings or preschool classrooms that we want to try this first, let's try it out. Let's assess and let's learn from it. And then based on what we learn and the changes we make, we can look at full implementation across the district. So I'll be talking more about this over the next couple of weeks. I want to thank you all. There's my name and my email address, please. If you have any questions, you're welcome to email me and I'll be happy to respond. We will have two more sessions and then at the end of this month, we will provide a time to have a live discussion. And that'll be an opportunity for you to join me live and ask questions or share some of your own stories and experiences. Thank you.
Part II

Description of the video:

Hi, welcome back to the Early Childhood Center webinar series on what it takes to implement effective, inclusive preschool services. I'm Michael Conn-Powers, Director of the Early Childhood Center. And I'm hosting the first month of the series focusing on adopting high-quality, inclusive service models. Starting points: And this is part two. Last week, I recorded part one. The goals for this series and particularly for the February webinars are listed here. Last week, I encouraged you to rethink your Service Delivery System and think about more inclusive service models that support membership, test patient engagement. This week, I'm going to touch on elements of implementation science, a 'la our proposed roadmap and share more specifically initial points. And then finally, I want to make you aware of all of the steps it takes to effect change in adopting more inclusive service delivery models. We also cross-reference what we're doing with the Division for Early Childhood Recommended Practices. And I've identified a couple of leadership recommended practices that this series targets. The agenda for the series: Last week we talked about thinking about our destination. And this week we're going to talk about preparing for that journey. What does that mean? Last week, I introduced this roadmap. And this is a roadmap for making changes within your program or school district, specifically in adopting new service models and curricular best practices. We borrowed from the field of implementation science, which has shown that there are four distinct and important stages in bringing about effective change. This week, we're going to focus on the first stage and that's exploration. We borrow heavily from the work of the National Implementation Science Research Network at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. And there they published numerous documents and one of them is this notion of stages of implementation. And they provide their own roadmap for how to bring about systemic change within programs, school districts, and states as a whole. This week, as I mentioned earlier, we're going to focus on exploration. And in exploration, there are key outcomes that we need to aim at if we're going to be prepared and taking this journey of adopting new and inclusive service models and evidence-based practices. We're going to focus specifically on an initial assessment tool that they've developed that helps us to get a sense of the fit and feasibility and taking on new best practices. We'll talk about the importance of communication, both in communicating with people that this new adopting these new practices will have an impact as well as making it a two-way communication and getting feedback. And then finally, the fact that this is something we can't take on individually, that we need to build an implementation team that can help us in this journey. Probably one of the most important outcomes during this initial stage of exploration is to get a really good handle on the implications and impact of adopting these new inclusive service models and practices. And that involves assessing the fit and feasibility of adopting these new practices. What does it really mean? What does it entail? How well prepared are we? Do we have the resources and the capacity to be able to do this and what do we need to do in order to get ready in adopting that? And the National Implementation Science and Research Network puts forth this, this thing they call the hexagon tool. And there are six elements that make it a hexagon. Three of the elements in green are the practice. They focus specifically on the model and practices that we're encouraging you to adopt. And they also look at three blue indicators that address your own district or program and your capacity to be able to make the changes in adopting and implementing these service practices. So we're going to take some time and go through each of these. Well, in many respects, the National Implementation Research Network pairs them up so that for each green or practice element there is the corresponding blue or program element. And so the first two, I want to talk about are evidence and need. And we talked about this in some respects in the first webinar, specifically around evidence. We presented to you models and practices and a lot of our work will delve on practices that have a strong research basis. But if you were using this to evaluate adopting another practice or perhaps a program curriculum, there are three elements that you want to focus on around that fall under evidence. You know, to what extent is there data that shows that the practice or curriculum has a data that shows that it's effective in bringing about your expected outcomes. Again, the link between the practice end your expected outcomes. Obviously with our focus on inclusive preschool services, we're looking at outcomes not only traditional early childhood special education outcomes that are measured, but also this notion of building long-term skills around membership, participation, and engagement. And then the third element is the clickability of those models and practices for your own setting. And some of the work that we've been doing does just that. What are the specific models that we're seeing adopted here in Indiana and how applicable is it so that we only share practices and service models that we have found instances of them being implemented here in the state of Indiana, Indiana school districts. The corresponding program is how well does the practice model fit in terms of program needs, the needs of your preschoolers, and the needs of your family and community. And I think that's why we really emphasize this notion of building membership, engagement, participation, and regular early education settings right from the get-go, rather than pulling children with disabilities away from their main stream, their community. We're advocating to look at service models that are built on what families tell us they hope their goals and dreams are for their children. And looks that strengthening community programs, preschool programs, early childhood childcare programs, and expand on their capacity to be able to adequately serve all children within their community. This piece really focuses on you taking the time to build a strong case that you can go to the rest of the members of your team and your school district and saying why it is we need to make the changes, especially in adopting inclusive service models. The next two elements are fit and usability. Fit, again is the program element and usability is looking at the specific practices. And I'll start there. When we assess the usability of model, what we're wanting to do is to see if there is enough information and materials and supporting documentation in professional development to ensure that we're clear about what is involved in implementing that model in practice. And that there's sufficient guidance. So that we implement that model correctly and consistently. If it's a very complex model, then it's not easily understood, then the usability might go downhill a bit because it's going to be confusing for our teachers and therapists and it may result in poor implementation. And we know if practices are poorly implemented, then it's less likely that we're going to experience the outcomes that we've targeted. So, you know, it asks, is the service model well-defined? Is there available documentation and training that can provide us guidance. Are thereeir measures to help us in assessing fidelity or accuracy in which we're implementing that. And then the fourth piece, are there places that we can go and see it being implemented? And one of the things that we've been working on over the past three years is the inclusion directory that identifies districts here in Indiana that are implementing successful Inclusive service models that are willing to make themselves available, to be observed or to have conversations with, you know, so we can get some clarity about what that model looks like in real life. The corresponding program element of the hexagon assessment is fit. So that once we have a clear understanding of what this model looks like and its usability, then we can assess the fit. How well does it fit with our current program priorities and goals and values? Are there other things that are going on in our district that might make it difficult to take on this tool. Now, you don't assess fit to say oh, it doesn't fit because it doesn't match our values and priorities. But rather you use that to help in planning how you're going to roll out this model. And the work that you might have to do ahead of time in aligning the goals and priorities and values of your district to embrace more inclusive service models. This is, this is very important. I remember one school district that we worked with that was very interested in taking on more inclusive services. And we met with them and began the exploration. But it was clear from the get go that as they brought in their preschool teachers, that provided special education services to the young children with disabilities. It was not a fit with their own values and beliefs about how early childhood special education could look like. And we didn't take the time to explore that. And think about how it might fit and how we might roll out the implementation. In fact, it, it died right there because we didn't take the time to have that conversation about what will it take to enable this program, this district to, to fit with more inclusive service models. And then the final pair in the hexagon tool looks at the support on the practice side. What are the supports that these models and practices demand in order to be implemented well and consistently and correctly? What are the costs? And then on the flip side, the program and its capacity. Does the program have the capacity to pull it off and to pull it off well? And this is a big conversation in some of the districts that we've been working in. because as they become more and more informed about what inclusive service models can look like in their district the focus of the conversation turns to capacity very, very quickly. So let's explore both of these elements of the hexagon assessment. So, so in assessing a certain model or practice like the closest service models we talked about last week. Then we recognize that there are costs in adopting those models, there are startup costs. You knew if, if we're starting to look at partnerships with the community, preschool programs or the local Head Start. Or in fact, in one of the rural areas that we're working with, they're looking at actually creating a regular early childhood program within their school district. And within that program, they would look at combining early childhood and special education children and staff. And obviously the conversation turned to does the cost in starting up such a broad Early Childhood Initiative. Another big conversation is training and professional development. For a lot of our early childhood special education teachers who's only knowledge and experience has been in their own developmental preschool and being the lead teacher and having a classroom of children with disabilities. Now we're asking them to shift focus and take on new roles and practices, such as some of the things that we talked about last week, either as a co-teacher or as a consulting teacher. There are skills that are involved in implementing these inclusive service models. And we need to take stock of what training and professional development might be needed. And then because they are new skills and they take some practice, ongoing coaching, That's an expense that takes time. And you need to know that if there are resources available to provide the training and coaching. And then finally around leadership and guidance on policies. As we take on this new service model, what are the implications of supports at leadership level and from policies that will support more inclusive service models and get us away from a history and tradition of more segregated service delivery models. So as we start to look at the individual models and practices were wanting to adopt, there are supports that That adoption is going to demand that we're gonna need to have in place. So that the flip side, we start to look at the capacity. Can we afford to do this? Do we have the resources? Do we have the staffing? Do we have the time to invest in the training and professional development? Those are some of the things as we've been working with school districts that we see. So they they know that that their folks are going to need training. And so we start to plan out a calendar of training and ongoing coaching that's going to take place over the course of the year. And making sure that we have release time or substitutes or we find times at the beginning or the end of the school year, or early summer for that professional development to take place. If we're looking at role changes and bringing on a regular early childhood or Head Start partners. Well, there are implications there both on both sides of both programs. And there may be need to be changes in our policies and procedures. And do we have the capacity and the leadership to make those changes? And there may be structural changes. I mean, again, we're talking about moving from self-contained classroom service models to service model where the early childhood special educator doesn't necessarily have their classroom and they're an itinerant. They are floating across classrooms and embedding special education services within that classroom, either through co-teaching or taking on activities for teaching within routines of the classroom. So again, there are structural changes that need to be in place. And part of the hexagon, part of this initial assessment of fit and feasibility, is looking at capacity. I wanted to start with the hexagon assessment. Assessing the fit and feasibility of adopting includes service models first, but, but probably the very first step in the exploration stage is pulling together an implementation team, doing that assessment and all of the other work and in the roadmap and and going from start to finish and implementing, adopting and implementing new practices. You're not gonna do it alone. You have to have a team and this implementation team becomes sort of the focus group in helping to design and implement and sustain inclusive services that are going to get started within your district. It's the group that helps to follow and shepherd the district along and following this journey, along the roadmap that we provide, it helps the district and carrying out all of the required steps such as the hexagon assessment we just talked about. So in our experience and working with some districts here in Indiana, we really encourage people to pull together an implementation team; that's usually the first conversation we have. When a director, administrator, or someone approaches us about expressing some interest. And we encourage these teams to be somewhat small, so they can be nimble and make decisions relatively quickly. So we, we usually recommend that there are no more than ten people. And in our experience there are usually five to ten people. Sometimes there are more, and sometimes there may be fewer. But we, we kind of encourage small and nimble team. And there are some key roles to think about who should be on that team. So obviously the first one that you see is central administration. You have to have leadership. And that leadership needs to be someone that can authorize or very quickly get with the powers that be, your superintendent, for example, to be able to authorize the activities and the resources that are going to be needed in undergoing this, this, this endeavor. They're the ones that provide the interface with the policies and procedures and resources of your district. And definitely are going to be central in helping you in assessing the fit and the capacity and resource needs in adopting these new models. So their key and sometimes we'll have more than one. You know, that a lot of times we encouraged the special education director, in some of the larger districts, there may be a preschool coordinator administrator of the early childhood special education programs and obviously that person is key. And then for districts where the preschool programs are spread across multiple elementary school buildings, we might also include a building principle as part of the administration. Who else should be involved? I mentioned early childhood special education program coordinator. More often than not, they're going to be, if you if your district has one, they're going to be the interface with staff and buildings and central administration and making all this hum. And then finally, we need to have direct service providers that are, you know, one or two early childhood special education teachers and or a speech language therapists that are intimately involved in providing special education and related services. They are where the rubber meets the road and taking this on and their perspective is invaluable. Helping to just think about that. The hexagon assessment, we cover it, think of their knowledge and experience and how they can really help to guide that process, and informed that process. And so they're important. If you're going to be partnering with regular early childhood programs as you probably will be. Whether that's in the community, maybe it's a community preschool or childcare center. Maybe it's Head Start or even if it's your own early childhood pre-kindergarten program within the schools. You're going to need someone that's a classroom teacher from that program too they're going to have a unique perspective that's going to help to provide information and guidance on adopting these practices. And then finally, a family member. We haven't seen family members be very active parts of this process to date. But you know, it's families that, in many respect have the longer-term hopes and dreams for their children to grow up and have jobs and live independently and be a member of their community. And, and that starts in preschool. And so families can give us sort of a vested and long-term or life-span perspective that's missing in all the other members. Last, and then I mentioned earlier around building principles. Again in districts where you're rolling this out across several buildings, building principals, the leadership of that building. They're going to be critical too in providing a perspective that you might not get anywhere else. This implementation team help to do. Again, we're, we're aiming for outcomes. We want children to learn, but we also want them to be around their same age peers and the opportunities to be a part of the early childhood community, to develop friendships, to be a member, and learn to participate and engage and learn in those environments. Well, to pull it off, there are some key pieces that the implementation team helps to happen. First, it takes effective practices. If you don't have an effective practice. You know, that's again, assessing the evidence and the usability of the practice. If we haven't done a good job implementation team isn't assuring that we're not going to get to those outcomes. And we know that outcomes don't happen unless that's present. Those are the best practices. We know that if we implement these and we implement them well, we're going to, we're going to see good things. But you know, it takes more than just knowing this is the best practice It has to be implemented effectively. There's a lot of research and it's come from the implementation science world. Where, this is this notion of the research practice gap. We know through research there are numerous Best Practices and effective curricula. The problem is, they're rarely implemented or they're not implemented well, or consistently. And a roll the implementation team in this whole roadmap and this journey and adopting new practices is to ensure, to help promote and ensure that those effective practices are implemented consistently and effectively. And we'll talk more about some of the things they that next week that helped ensure that. But even within that hexagon assessment, remember we're talking about capacity, fit, supports, and what is it that we're doing to ensure the effective implementation, which brings us to the third element and that is enabling context. This is probably one of the very central roles of the implementation team They're having the conversations. They're collecting the data. They're developing plans for implementation that will help create contexts that will enable these practices to come into your school district. They helped provide the training and information that people will need to understand the changes that are going to be occurring within the school district. They're providing policies, and guidance that communicate that this is an important and valued change that's coming on. And have the opportunities to have conversations that help people to understand why it is we're, we're taking on these new practices. So again, whether it's assessing fit and feasibility, developing capacity, facilitating communication, and following this roadmap to support adoption, it all falls on the implementation team. And then the final element that I want to emphasize that's part of this exploration phase, is communication. And communication with our stakeholders. And our stakeholders can be central administration and the superintendent's office. It can be families, It can be building leadership. It can be our teachers and therapists. Everyone that has a stake in this change, we need to be sure that there's a communication plan that helps to support and inform everybody about what's going on. That involves taking the time to share the initiative and the roadmap that the implementation team is following so that there's no one that's unclear about what's happening and why and a roadmap or timeline for how change is going to happen. That's part of this communication plan. It's to engage in that exploration and assessed buy-in. So thinking about the hexagon we just talked about, and we're assessing the fit and feasibility of adopting these new practices. Well, that means that we need to have conversations with a lot of folks to make sure that everyone's concerns are heard, as well as the needs that are going to arise in adopting this new model. You know, I don't know how to do this. I I've never been a consulting teacher, I've only been a classroom teacher. I don't know how. And so that we know that for that person, they're going to need training and support. to learn new skills and practices. And when we have these two-way conversations, especially during that exploration phase, it's a wonderful strategy for people to be heard, their concerns to be shared and to promote by-in and this isn't something we're coming in and, And so to speak, ramming down their throats were providing the opportunity to hear both ideas and suggestions as well as needs. Later, and we'll talk more about this next week when we start to get into implementation. It's a great way to begin to identify pilot sites. One of the things that we will recommend is you don't just jump in and, and today you know your service, 0% of your preschoolers are served and inclusive environments. Everybody right now is served in more self-contained or segregated preschool classrooms and, tomorrow 100% of the kids and all the classrooms, we're going to move to inclusive service model. So we're going to suggest you might take this a little more incrementally and identify pilot sites. And by having these communications, you're gonna find people that are interested and supported and more engaged and might make for a great pilot site. And then finally, as you do start to roll out the models and the practices. Communication allows for two-way communication to assess how it's going to get feedback. Okay, so in this week's webinar, we talked about exploration and preparation, and specifically this notion that assessment for fit and feasibility and the hexagon tool that the National Implementation Research Network has, has shared with us as a good model. We recognize that we can't do something like this alone. It takes a team and investing in that team, making sure we have the right people on that team is going to help to support the longevity and success of this. And then the third piece is a communication plan. We need to make sure that everyone is informed, that everyone knows where we're going and the timeline and the roadmap for getting there. Alright, so last week we talked about the importance of rethinking how we provide services and this notion of adopting inclusive service models. Today and this week we're talking about what we can do to prepare for the journey. And then next week I'll talk a little bit more about the later stages of implementation science roadmap and what we might do in implementing change. Again, thank you for attending. There's my email. If you have any questions, I encourage you to reach out that'll help me to know what's working and not working. And also on the link somewhere there is Qualtrics survey that you can click. Please give us some feedback. And also that is the strategy that you can get a certificate for attending. Thank you and take care.
Part III

Description of the video:

Welcome again to the continuation of the Early Childhood Center's webinar series, looking at what it takes to implement effective, inclusive preschool services. I am Michael Conn-Powers. I am Director of the Early Childhood Center located, at the Indian Institute on Disability and Community, Indiana University. This part of the series is focusing on adopting high-quality, inclusive service models. Starting points, and this is the third webinar in that series. My agenda for the February portion of our Center's webinar series has really focused on those starting points. That includes taking the time to think about our destination. And of course, our destination or hoped destination, is to look at high-quality, inclusive preschool services for young children with disabilities. And in the first webinar, I focused specifically on that topic. Then in the second webinar, I talked about preparation, a starting point, and introduced and talked about our roadmap that borrows from implementation science and the importance of the exploration stage. In this webinar. I will continue with that roadmap and the use of implementation science principles and talk about next steps and implementing a plan for change. Specifically in moving away from segregated preschool special education services and developmental preschool programs and making the change to more inclusive service delivery models. My goals for this webinar series, are 1. to re-imagine services that are more inclusive and support membership and friendships and engagements. I wanted to introduce you to the elements of implementation science and then make you aware of the steps that you can take to begin effecting change and your own school district. Because we cross-reference our training with the Division for Early Childhood Recommended Practices. I identified two leadership practices that reflect the focus of the February webinar series. Both leaders advocating for policies and resources that support DEC statements on practice and establishing the partnerships to create coordinated and inclusive services. In the earlier webinars, I introduced the tenants of implementation science. And this notion of a roadmap that covers four important stages for programs and school districts. to undergo change to be able to adopt new and best practices that we know bring about desired outcomes for children and families. And I'm borrowing heavily from the work of NIRN, the National Implementation Research Network at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. And in fact, I was in a training just last week by Karen Ward who works at Chapel Hill. And she shared this graphic and I'm, I'm borrowing, giving her credit. That shows these four stages and sort of the, the basic function of each. Last week, I talked about exploration and the importance at that stage of taking the time to examine the model and practices you wish to adopt. And assessing how well that model fits, how feasible it is and how well it addresses the needs of the children and families in your community. This week, we're going to talk about installation and installation follows exploration. And it focuses on assuring that we're ready, that we have the resources, the supports, the training in order for us to move to initial implementation. Initial implementation looks at starting and working with select pilot elementary schools or preschool classrooms. Someone that will help us to take it on first and for us to learn and to demonstrate that we can do it and do it well, before we move on to full implementation and look at generalizing across all of our program or all of our district. I also borrow from a relatively new document, implementation stages planning tool, again, offered through NIRN, the National Implementation Research Network. And you can find it on their website. And this document is very helpful in outlining the key outcomes and steps along this journey. So in this webinar, I really want to focus on the installation stage of adopting new practices. After we've done the heavy exploration work, we know we've got a model, an inclusive preschool service delivery model and practices that we know will work in our district and that we can adopt it and we can make it fit with changes and training and services. Once we've answered those questions, it's time to prepare and put pieces into place that will allow us to implement that model. And that's the installation stage. Now, I've worked for many years to help support school districts and agencies and adopt a new best practices. And the inclination is... I've got this new practice, I've got this new model. Let's just start implementing it. And we want to jump right to that. And more often than not, if it's not, if planning and preparation doesn't happen, then that initial implementation fails. Because inevitably we run into roadblocks or barriers, or finding that we don't have the skills or supports that are necessary for the successful implementation of that model. So if we want to start, if we want to, jump into implementation, there are things that we need to have in place. And so these are the outcomes of successful installation stage of work. 1. we have a successful well-functioning implementation team made up of people who have the authority to authorize and support those changes. Includes people who will help to champion and monitor and manage those changes. And it also includes teachers and therapists who are going to be the ones implementing that change so they are able to provide their perspective. And it's a team that functions well. Fidelity measures. That means that we have a clear understanding of what these new service models and practices will look like. And we've developed assessment measures so that we can ensure and assure that we are implementing what we said we'd implement and implementing. Well. There are infrastructure support, some place we know will take support and professional development and ongoing coaching. It may need required interagency agreements. If we're working with community programs. We know that people need to be trained. Very few of our practitioners have the skill and training to implement high-quality, inclusive service delivery models. And then that last component, it takes a two-way communication. We need to be sure that we're communicating with the district and at stake holders, family members, community members. And we also need to make sure that it's two-way so that we have feedback loops. So in this webinar, I want to talk about some of the activities that we can put into place to successfully install the opportunity to implement best practices that we are choosing to adopt. Okay, so first, we have an implementation team that has the capacity to support the implementation. The Implementation team is sort of the nexus for ensuring that the district is successful in adopting these new best practices around inclusive services for preschoolers with disabilities. We need to make sure that members of that team have the knowledge, the skills, the functions, and the authority to make it happen. That means you've got someone, from the superintendent or superintendent's office that can authorize the changes that are going to need to happen. That you've got people who are familiar with the models and practices. That have the knowledge that can champion and articulate that vision of moving forward. And then we have stakeholders, whether it's teachers and therapists who will be implementing these changes or principles in our elementary schools that will help to lead that change at the building level. Or family members who will be recipients of the services that can help us. Remember why we're doing this in the first place. It is a team that needs to meet regularly and have the time and the support to do its job well. And as it's setting up, it needs to have the capacity to meet on a regular basis so that they can manage and oversee the changes as they're implemented. Once we move into the initial implementation phase, they are the ones that will be the problem solvers. So once things get started, they're the ones that are going to manage and ensure that we have all the infrastructure supports in place. These are the folks that make it happen. We need to focus on this thing called Fidelity. And I'm a big believer in this maxim, what gets measured, gets done. And this focuses on the actual service models and practices that we're wanting to adopt. In the first webinar, I talked about various service models. You might have a Push-in service model, you might have a consultative service model. You might have a co-teaching service model, or you might just ought to develop a one-size-fits-all model in which a single teacher is a teacher of record and provides the special ed services. It is also the classroom teacher for all young preschoolers. Regardless of the model or models that you choose, you need to take the time to articulate and clearly define the specific practices that comprise that model. You need to have a clear understanding of what are the essential functions and practices that comprise successful push-in model, for example, what does that look like? What are the practices of successful push -in inclusive special education and related services? And then once you have a clear understanding of what those practices are, you need to have clear, measurable indicators. Because these practices, they're not rocket science, but they're not easy. You need to ensure that people have the training and are implementing these practices with fidelity or you will fail. You will have a program that's poorly implemented. So this, this focus on fidelity is to pull together assessment, both assessment measures and practices that you will use to monitor implementation of these new service models. And as well as criteria for success. That is, if it takes ten practices for special educators to successfully implement push-in practices, you know, they have they have to embed those special education services in typical classroom routines. And within the classroom that might be a practice. There are specific ways and delivering that special ed and related services that it happens within the flow and the curriculum or the classroom. It isn't disruptive to the classroom routine and what's going on with all the other children. It may be that it happens in the context of small group or free time and involves other children without disabilities. So you have same age peers that are helping you. It provides, you know, we look at practices around imbedded instruction and what is comprised in the evidence-based practice of embedded instruction. So and taking the time, we almost define the curriculum that will be our, our training and professional development curriculum, but also our assessment. And that means that we'll be measuring and assessing how well our practitioners implement those models. So we take the time, define what those practices are. We have those clear, measurable indicators so someone can show up in the classroom and observe and have a way of clearly assessing if those practices are taking place or not. or taking place with a sufficient quality. We defined fidelity and this is important. How do we know when we are successfully there? And this is all bundled up into a performance assessment. It's not used for evaluating teachers. It's not teacher evaluation. It is for the purpose of ensuring that we're implementing these practices successfully. Then we also need to look at an another big responsibility during this installation stage is this caring and developing infrastructure supports. Any change is going to involve big changes throughout the system. If we want to ensure that what we're doing is successfully done, we have to make sure that supports are in place. This can involve policies, procedures, and agreements. I put in the agreements there. If your model involves working with the local Head Start or community childcare preschool program, then you're probably going to have to take the time to negotiate interagency agreements for how we will work together to provide high-quality, inclusive early education services for all children. If it involves new policies and procedures that take teachers out of the classroom as a classroom teacher. And starts to redefine their role and position as a as a consultant or a co-teacher, then those policies and procedures need to take and effect change. Another big part is initial training and ongoing coaching. I alluded to this earlier. These are new practices. It requires new skills. And one of the areas that we find that sometimes districts want to rush in and do on the cheap is training and ongoing coaching. You know, we'll do some, will do a two-day training at the beginning of the school year and we'll call it done. Well, some of these practices require more than a couple of days. And what we know about adult learning is the importance of ongoing coaching. We can have the best five-day training to get people up to snuff with the knowledge and beginning skills are required for high-quality inclusive services. But if we don't follow that with ongoing coaching, as the teachers implement those new skills in their classrooms or in the regular early childhood classrooms. We know that those skills won't stick. So it means that we put together and have in place the resources and the experts to provide that ongoing training and coaching. Some of these models require ongoing resources and supports for some of the districts we've been working with that want to build on the efforts to establish pre-K programs in their district. And they're looking at those as placement for children with disabilities. There may be the need for additional resources and supports to make that happen. I mentioned training, but it may involve providing substitute release time for the regular early childhood classroom teachers to participate in some of that training. So they acquire the skills to universally design their classrooms and their curriculum and their teaching to accommodate a greater diversity of learners. There may be supports and materials that are going to be needed to make those classrooms well-equipped for all children. And so taking the time to think about the resources and supports that need to be in place is also part of this installation stage. And making sure we have the infrastructure in place to support it. And then the fourth piece is data and access to data and supports to use it. This implementation science model relies a great deal on data. It relies on data during exploration and ensuring that we've done a good job of assessing the feasibility and fit of the models we want to adopt and our capacity to implement it. And as we get ready to implement the desired models, we need to have an ongoing data collection system so we can see how well we're doing, how well we're implementing the changes and how well those changes are being made in the classrooms. So data for the implementation team to be able to monitor its progress in implementing these infrastructure supports? Are we able to provide the training and ongoing coaching? Is everybody accessing that training? What do we do to support ongoing training and coaching? And are we implementing that effectively? And then are the special educators and regular classroom teachers and therapists. Are they learning and practicing the skills based on that fidelity assessment I talked just talked about earlier. So that data helps us to chart. Are we doing what we said we would do in preparing and implementing this change? And two, is it having an impact? Are we affecting changes and in the desired service models and service practices that we've targeted. And then over time, are we having the desired impact on the children and families? So data is very important and it, it helps to inform and guide the implementation team. But also you can use it to create a culture of data informed decision-making with the classroom teachers and special education and, and, and therapists so that they can see they're doing what they're supposed to be doing. They're doing it well. And they can begin to monitor their impact and their collective impact on children's learning and development. So taking the time to secure and develop these infrastructure supports is a tremendously important part of this installation stage. We cannot take on the change began implementing that change unless we know we have all the necessary supports in place or, or we will fail. And it's, as you begin to think about this installation phase now and all that's involved, you can see where if we don't do this, then our efforts to implement the change may be doomed for failure. Okay, the next element, an important outcome of this installation stage is the plan and planning. Obviously after we've talked about making sure that our models are well-defined and we have fidelity measures. We've talked about the infrastructure supports we need to have in place that's going to take time. And that means we need to have a plan. And part of that plan is pulling those resources together. But they're also the plan for implementation. And when we start to think about moving into initial implementation, there are some key things we need to have as part of our plan. First, who's gonna go first? A big recommendation as a district or an agency move towards adoption is spending some time thinking about who will be your initial field test or pilot classrooms or buildings or sites. That's important. You're not gonna do this system-wide it. You're going to start small. You're going to test it out. You're going to make sure that the model and the practices make sense and they still have that fit feasibility. We're also going to test to make sure we do have all the infrastructure supports in place and that we can execute it. And, and so where do we start first? Instead of just jumping in across the whole district, we should pick a handful of sites to do this. And so who makes that first-cut? Who do we want to go with first? Well, that's a a conversation, that's a decision. The implementation team. Now you might choose to go with teachers and therapists who are on board and have good skills and practices and philosophically believe that this is a good practice so that you start with them. You know, you're not going to be waging the philosophical battles. And that their hearts are in the right place. And, and it's going to be a true test of the model and the infrastructure support. So you might start with folks that are on board and have good skill and knowledge at implementing this. So that might be part of the logic. You might have other criteria that guide who goes first. You know, you may be looking at buildings and that you've got leadership with the principal and the building that is strong, or that there is logic that they go first, one of the districts that we worked with that was very much a part of the decision-making. In that particular school. There was support and logic for the special education preschool classroom teachers to move away from classroom delivery and do co-teaching and push in services because of the strength of the regular early childhood classrooms in that school and the willingness for them to take it on. So there are a number of reasons why and it's just important to take some time and ask who do we want to go first and why, what's the criteria? Whether you're starting with strength and the people or maybe it's being strategic about the locations in schools or the sites that You take on first, how will we train and coach those folks? How will we make sure that they have the skills and capacity to implement these inclusive service models and practices. And who's going to be the coach? Do you have the expertise within your school district? Do you have folks like ourselves at the Early Childhood Center who you can ask and turn to provide the training. And perhaps this help with the coaching. That's part of what we've been doing over the past two or three years in working with districts to provide ongoing training and even coaching. Even during the pandemic, we'd been using some virtual coaching tools that allow us to coach individual teachers from a distance and using technology. So again, that plan of how you're going to execute all of the work you've been doing as an implementation team starts to fall out here. Again, data, data, data. Who has it? How are we gonna collect it? How are we going to compile it? How are we going to make it available? In a useful and usable format so that we can make informed decisions as an implementation team. Who's going to help us in doing those fidelity assessments? How are we going to ensure that the training took place and that people are feeling good and comfortable with the new knowledge and skills. How are we ensuring that the coaching supports for putting in place are being implemented and carried out, carried out well. And that the teachers and therapists are acquiring the skills. All of those are data decisions. And they will make or break the success of your implementation plan. Because mistakes will happen, you will run into problems. And there will be some folks that are going to struggle to learn these new skills. A data system will help you to identify those problems are struggles very early on and help you to problem-solve. And then finally, taking the time to define success. You know, let's say you decide to pilot with one or two or three of your special educators and their classrooms and moving those children into regular ed classrooms. So over the course of the year and initial implementation, how do you define that you're doing it well, it's going well, we are successful. And it's time to start to add new staff and new classrooms and new sites as we start to scale up. So taking the time to think about what is success that teachers and therapists are implementing their practices and implementing them well. And that we're seeing data that indicates that children are learning and people are feeling good about the change and feel it and it's working and that children and families are learning and feeling good about those changes. So we can say, all right, it's time to bring in the next three classrooms or the next building. So spending time defining what success is so that you don't just happen stance in your movements forward. Finally, communication. In our experience, change is hard. We are asking people to do business differently. We have seen a lot of questions and resistance and concerns about moving to more inclusive service models. And so if we don't provide information and communication and an opportunity for people to voice their concerns and hesitancy and have them addressed. Then we are setting ourselves up for failure and failure because of people being confused and executing poorly. Or for people who are not on board and may passively or actively sabotage those efforts. And so taking the time to set up and implement this ongoing two-way communication is key because we need to make sure people are informed and they're not making up information because there's an absence or a vacuum of information. We want to make sure we're clear about the direction we're going as a district and where we are and what stage we're in and what the plan and the timeline is. Everyone is informed and that there are opportunities for them to be able to share their questions. And as they experience problems, there's the feedback loop. And that goes back to that implementation team or to the school's leadership. So that we're all on board. We're all, you know, communicating and working together. So the putting in place those mechanisms, how is it that if I'm, a classroom teacher or speech and language therapist, and I have questions or concerns about how I'm going to do this. Who do I go to? I go to my building principle. Do I go to the special ed director or the preschool coordinator? Do I go to the person that's champion in this, that's part of the implementation team. If it's not clear what the lines of communication are, that's going to be frustrating for folks. If we don't provide who's providing the message? I mean, we have principles. They are generally the building leaders. So is the implementation team putting together the communication that goes down, goes up, comes from the superintendent's office, you know, with the work of the implementation team. And it goes to the building leadership. And it's the building leadership that provides information and communication about this initiative and the rolling out of these inclusive service models. So again, taking the time to think about what the communication plan will be and how it's executed and and what the lines of communication are. So that if I have questions, I need to know more. I've got something, some concerns. What do I do with that key piece, key piece of the stage of, of installation. So, you know, in this webinar we spent some time so far and talking about these first two stages. And and that's as far as I'm going to get, we're going to move to some very different topics and start to explore some of these inclusive service practices that I've alluded to in these three webinars. But I wanted to start with the importance of taking the time to look at that exploration and installation phases are my own experience and I know the experience of the folks at the National Implementation Research Network is that so many efforts fail. So many efforts and initiatives to adopt new models and practices fail in their implementation because we didn't spend enough time during exploration and installation. It can take a year and maybe even more for exploration and installation to occur. And so for someone that wants to start, you know, this is February and they want to rock and roll and have this off the ground and being implemented at the start of the next school year in the fall? Well, that might be unrealistic because we have to ask the question, will this give us enough time for that exploration and installation to occur? I encourage you and I've, I've shared references to the work of NIRN and folks like Karen Ward that works for the SSIP project that looks at state implement, and implementation change, have wonderful resources. And we're in the process of developing a new website that will use this model of change and provide some kind of step-by-step planning for our districts here in Indiana. I'll close. On February 23rd, I believe at four PM. I will have open forum. It will be live. That's an opportunity. If you're interested to join me with questions that you might have about what I've shared and the work that we're doing and the initiative we're undertaking as part of our collaboration with the Indiana Department of Education. Our website at the Early Childhood Center where you found this webinar, there should be links to register for that forum. So we have a sense of how many people are joining us. And I hope to see you there and please come with questions. Thank you for joining me again. There's my contact information. If you should have any questions, please feel free to email me. Thank you again for joining me.

What it Takes to Implement Effective Preschool Inclusion - Team Collaboration and Multi-tiered Instructional Supports Enhance Child Outcomes

Part 1 -  By Sally Reed Crawford, M.A., Research Associate

Description of the video:

Welcome to the Early Childhood Center's webinar series. What it Takes to Implement Effective Preschool Inclusion Services. Our March topic is Team Collaboration and Multitiered Instructional Supports Enhance Child Outcomes. Today is part one. In subsequent weeks on March 9th we will cover tier two, March 16th will be tier three. And March 23rd, we will have a live discussion forum, but you have to sign up for that. Please visit our webpage. My name is Sally Reed Crawford. I have been a Research Associate at the Early Childhood Center at the Indiana institute on Disability and Community for six years. And I've been in the field of early intervention and early childhood special education for over 40 years. The Early Childhood Center is one of seven at the Institute. And the institute covers the lifespan for people with disabilities. The work of each center promotes research to practice. The goals for the March topic are to provide an overview of evidence-based practices that improve child outcomes, illustrate the importance of team collaboration in preschool inclusion, and to illustrate what tiered instructional supports look like to meet children's unique needs. As you can see, I have paired each goal with a sample practice from the document The Division of Early Childhood Recommended Practices. Implementing effective preschool services takes a dual responsibility. Leaders establish policies and procedures and hire staff competent in inclusive service delivery, as well as create the conditions for practitioners from multiple disciplines and families to work together. For practitioners. One practice is to maintain the required frequency, intensity, and duration of instruction to address the child's pace of learning or level of support to achieve goals. Today's agenda is, again, the overview of evidence-based practices, requirements of effective inclusion, and then delving into tier one. So what is the evidence base for effective preschool inclusion and why follow it? I think the answer starts with what we want to achieve with preschool inclusion. The desired outcomes you see on the slide were put forth in 2015 by the US Health and Human Services and Department of Education offices. Some phrases that jump out at me are inclusion should promote a sense of belonging and membership, support positive social relationships and friendships, and provide supports to maximize each child's learning potential. Learning potential: research tells us that when we simply place children in high-quality early care and education, that is often not enough to increase their opportunities to learn and be socially included. Some children will need specialized supports to fully participate, engage, and to learn. I wanted to provide you a overview of the legal, science, and equity bases for using evidence-based practices in preschool inclusion service delivery. The first one is the legal basis. We learn from the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 that for eligible children, the first placement option should be considered is the regular classroom where a child would attend if they did not have a disability. Both IDEA 2004 and the Every Student Succeeds Act require schools to use programs, curricula, and practices when serving children and inclusive environments. Based on scientific research. The science basis for early childhood inclusion is robust. With over 30 years of evidence pointing and telling us we need to increase inclusion for young children. A brief sampling of the research shows us that children with disabilities can indeed be educated in inclusive settings with individualized instruction. That evidence-based practices increases the probability of positive outcomes for children. And inclusion requires intentional and effective collaboration and teaming and probably professional development and coaching. The equity basis is strongly linked to the legal basis. All children have the right to equitable learning opportunities to help them achieve their full potential and to become valued members of society. Therefore, all educators have a professional obligation to advance equity. Our colleagues at the Indiana Department of Education's Office of Special Education designed this excellent visual. As a quick reminder of what each and every educator serving students with different abilities needs to be doing to support those individual needs and to meet the Indiana Department of Education mission: Every child succeeds. This visual is in alignment with the march topics. I'm going to break it down just a bit. So you see the colored elements, the four core elements of the visual, collaboration. instruction, curriculum assessment. We also see surrounding that universal design for learning and multitiered system of supports is a component of support and in the middle we see shared responsibility, shared accountability, and high expectations. More elements that we will be visiting in our March topic. At the very center of the visual is our goal or target in educating students. If we provide equity plus access, we increase child outcomes. The target in the visual drives our efforts to implement effective preschool inclusion. Lastly, the arrows around the donut or bagel reflects that this is a fluid model. Each element impacts the next. The presence or absence or strength or weakness of an element impacts our ability to hit the target, to increase child outcomes. We know that inclusion is challenging. The field of early childhood special education has a framework that was given to us in 2009 with the three features of effective inclusion. We consider these the requirements of what we need to be doing. A joint position statement was put out between the division of Early Childhood Council for Exceptional Children and the National Association for the Education of Young Children promoted three features of access, participation and system supports. I'm going to briefly define each one. Access is the first step and how adults shape the learning environment. I'm talking about the environments in a broad sense. Physical, temporal, which is the pace of a schedule, social and instructional environments. Access includes three commonly used evidence-based practices to design a wide range of learning experiences for all children and to increase access. One is Universal Design for Learning. It's a set of principles to guide selection of materials and resources. They are flexible teaching methods to provide support for all children. Adaptations, assistive technology, and other accommodations are simple changes that a teacher makes to classroom routines or activities. They are easy to implement, thoughtfully planned, and don't require other resources. These changes support a child's physical, cognitive, or emotional challenges. Some simple changes might be altering the environment or maybe modifying materials or using special equipment. Using a child's favorite activities or people or toys within activities. Planning adult and peer assistance for modelling or prompting within activities. The second feature is participation. We think of this as how we individualized supports. The evidence-based practices and participation are embedded learning opportunities which are short, intentional teaching episodes within ongoing routines, and tiered levels of instruction. These are planned with the child's goals in mind and we identify them in terms of when we will provide the instruction, where the instruction will take place, what instruction will happen, and how instruction will occur. We want special education services to be delivered within typical routines and activities. The third system, the third feature of effective inclusion is system or administrative supports. They include a variety of things. Starting with professional development and coaching, team collaboration, family engagement, program evaluation, and fidelity of classroom practices. I will be focusing just on team collaboration in March, as well as the access and participation best-practices. Let's take a look at some real world examples of the simple changes that occur in classrooms. You see colored squares to assist children in lining up. This would be altering the environment. We see a visual schedule, a large one, which is varying the method because we've paired a real photo to it. We may use iPads or other technology to modify instruction. We might simplify steps to teach a concept. Again, with visuals. We may motivate some children to stay in a group by giving them a leadership role. Sign Language is an alternative way to decide children's learning. We may provide adult assistance in social situations. Individual visuals may support a child staying with the whole group. And child preference can be utilized to engage a favorite peer, to look at a book. The second feature of participation and individualizing supports, specifically multitiered system of supports, I feel needs a bit more definition for what it looks like in early childhood education. It can be confusing. Prior to multitiered system of supports was response to intervention and positive behavior supports for elementary and high school students. It wasn't until 2004 IDEA that we began to see tiered, multitiered strategies, link to struggling elementary students. And again, in every child or Every Student Succeeds Act, tiered strategies to help with literacy. It's taken the early childhood field a bit longer to catch up. But in 2013, the National Association for the Education of Young Children and the Division of Early Childhood and Head Start. All three wanted clarification on response to intervention for young students. And then they revise that position paper in 2019. And this definition was put forth that an MTSS framework in early care and education is a way of providing high-quality teaching through differentiated support for all young children, not just those who are struggling. Three distinctions characterize MTSS in early childhood. The receiver of the tiered support is the child and the family. That the person who delivers the tiered support are multiple service providers, general educators, special educators. The other thing that happens in early childhood is that there are several entities providing early childhood education. There's public preschool, there's Head Start, there's private preschool. And the third distinction is the focus. What is the focus of the intervention? It is both behavior and academics or school readiness skills, not just the struggling student. The third feature, System or administrative supports, I am focusing on the evidence-based practice of team collaboration. Research tells us that ongoing team collaboration, is essential in implementing effective individualized supports. Team collaboration is about shared responsibility and accountability. Team members would share data and resources and problem-solve how to implement individualized supports. Administrators in effective preschool inclusion programs recognize the importance of giving the team time to communicate and collaborate. And therefore they establish a structure or a procedure for collaborative teaming. Practitioners in early childhood inclusion can agree that the work of preschool inclusion is rigorous work. To remove those barriers to educational and social success. It is the evidence-based practices that provide all children an equitable learning opportunity. We do know also that practitioners have discovered that a particular evidence-based practice is not guaranteed to work for all children all the time. That's a fact. But trying an evidence-based practices is our only path to each child's access and participation in inclusive settings. You might be saying, "So where do I find these evidence-based practices?" I'm going to show you two essential resources. The first one, I introduced at the beginning of the webinar, the Division of Early Childhood's recommended practices. This is a document that you can download. It's accessible on mobile devices. It comes in English and Spanish. And there are two versions. There's a document of just the practices themselves. And then there's the same document with embedded examples to describe what it looks like in a variety of settings. These documents are for children birth through five. So some of the examples are also for infant and toddler work. There are eight topic areas with a variety of practices guiding us to try them in our service delivery. Second, go-to resource is the Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center. They have developed practice improvement tools as a companion to the Division of Early Childhood Recommended practices. There are performance checklists. That is an opportunity for a practitioner to check their implementation. There are two kinds of guides, family guides and practitioner guides to use with those general educators they consult with. These are very cool. They embed a video in each guide. There is a descriptive scenario, and there are indicators of what it looks like when it's successful. The checklists and the guides are per practice in all the topic areas. We're about to go into tier one. I want to orient you to tier one by introducing this triangle. This is the MTSS or Multitiered System of Supports triangle. You may have seen in the past. You will see that Tier one is at the bottom. It is purposely wider and deeper to symbolize the foundation for all the practices above. It also indicates that these are universal practices and support that is often sufficient to meet the needs of most young children. Tier two is depicted in the middle, which is shallower than the bottom tier, yet deeper than the top tier. This indicates that some children will need more focused supports, and targeted instruction for some of their skills. Tier three is at the top. It highlights prioritizing essential individual skills for a few children who need an increased, an intent systematic instruction, which is more often and we would be utilizing prompts and reinforcers to build those skills. The arrow along the side increase reflects the increasing or decreasing of that individualisation up and down the triangle. The frequency of instruction and the frequency of progress monitoring. The arrow in the middle reflects that children move up and down across the tears. A child isn't labeled a tier two or three child. They could have skills that are being met in tier one, but they may needs a tier two strategy to support learning a skill or two. Let's look at some universal outcomes. We want all children to learn how to attend and engage so they can learn. Following directions, completing tasks, manipulating materials appropriately, sharing and taking turns and learning to negotiate, making choices, and developing friendships. And all this is occurring within a classroom of maybe 18 to 20, 22 children. So a tier one, let's review. Who gets it and why? All children receive tier-1. We have high expectations, but we will plan for varied abilities. Our universal. design is developmentally, linguistically, and socially and culturally appropriate. Well, what does it look like? Well, we're starting with those universal outcomes. We're going to use common curriculum. We may vary difficulty for some children. And we're gonna use multiple methods to engage present information and determined learning. We may do this in mixed ability small groups. What does team collaboration look like at tier-1? Planning for tier-1 often falls to the classroom teacher, but it doesn't mean the whole team couldn't be consulted to look at the whole design of the environment to make sure every child has access to all activities and routines. And what about families sharing what they do at home that's successful. And offering family some practices to try that we have found that work in the classroom. Progress monitoring generally takes place three to four times a year. The key about progress monitoring is that we need to discover method setters; simple, reliable, something you can sustain over time and that all adults can do. I want to check in with the Division of Early Childhood Recommended Practices for the tier one supports. First of all, their access topic is called environment. Their participation topic is called instruction. And they term team collaboration, Team collaboration. These are just three of the many practices to review. So I want to think about a classroom teacher and what we have to remember to do as classroom teachers and providers. We need to be asking, when we're universally designing an environment, we need to ask, what is it we have to do? What, what barriers have to be removed? And how do we make learning accessible for all children? Classroom teachers know the children in their, in their group. They have varying abilities. They have different ways of learning. Teachers have specific learning goals for each child. A teacher's going to consult with other team members. Let's look at it a little more specifically. Teachers are going to build on interests and motivation and children's curiosity. She may extend engagement by scaffolding and hints. And vary difficulty for some children. She is going to present information in an accessible way in a variety of formats. Use of technology might be used to support independence for some children. To decide on child learning, she's going to first start with very planned and focused observations, expecting varied responses. Using variety of materials. She is going to keep in mind that one size doesn't fit all in designing her learning environment. Some general questions to consider when designing a barrier free learning environment and activities are, are adults performing tasks for children that they could be doing? Is the child doing what his, his or her peers are doing? Could we incorporate social engagement into the routine or task? How should the environment, the physical environment, be altered to increase socialization and independence? Does the length or duration of a routine need to be altered? I'm going to review a planning sequence using a literacy example. I'm going to use a common IEP outcome. And I'm using the Indiana Early Learning Foundations. So what is taught? If we want to teach a child to recognize common objects, we're going to teach the name and the function or use of an object. We want all the adults and family members to be doing that instruction. It will happen in the classroom and during home activities, throughout the day. At recess. In the car. And we're going to use language rich interactions and suggested question prompts might be at the center. So all adults can add to that rich interaction. Will do lots of shared book reading, supplementing with concrete objects, and picture labels. As I think about one of the center times, a book exploration, this is what that outcome or that planning could look like. To engage a particular child. Let's say it's a child who's not very interested in books, but it's very interested in the housekeeping quarter and is also a dual language learner. So I might use some shared book time with that child. Invite a favorite peer, and make sure there are dual language books as part of what the child chooses to look at. We will explore it together. We will look at the photos and the dual language to identify objects and their function in the preferred interest content he likes, which is the housekeeping quarter. We might model matching the concrete object to the picture in the book. The adult could model, the favorite pier could model. We will use multiple ways for a child to respond and participate. Speech in their home language, gestures, visuals. We will collect data, the method of choice over several weeks, share progress, an input with the team and the families, and review effectiveness and adjust the intervention. So let's look at our general questions. Was the adult performing a task a child should be doing? Could be doing? No. Child was involved with peers. Is the child doing what peers are doing? Yes. It's book expiration time. Was social engagement part of it? Yes. Was the physical environment or the materials altered to increase engagement? Well we added dual language books. Did the duration of the routine or activity need to be altered to meet that child's needs? I think if we have done all the other elements then the child would be very interested in staying with the activity. Let's do a quick review of what occurred in this webinar. We looked at the legal, science, and equity basis for using evidence-based practices. We outlined several evidence-based practices to increase access, participation, an impact team collaboration. And you learned maybe, or you knew already about the resource of the Division of Early Childhood Recommended Practices or the performance checklists and guides. And we learned about what team collaboration and multitiered system of supports is in early childhood. The next webinar on this topic is March 9th. It will be posted. It will focus on tier two. The upcoming months series topics is here. And I want to thank you for participating. Please, find the webinar survey link to complete the survey to get professional growth points.