Once Upon A Gene: Improving Inclusion Practices in Schools with the Inclusive Educator – Bre Gastaldi
ONCE UPON A GENE – EPISODE 153
Improving Inclusion Practices in Schools with the Inclusive Educator – Bre Gastaldi
Bre Gastaldi is known as the Inclusive Educator and she teaches school districts how to implement inclusive practices. She’s also a special education teacher. She joins me for a discussion on diversity and inclusion in all aspects of education and the school setting.
Can you tell us about yourself and your work as an inclusion expert?
I got into special education by way of my own neurodivergence. I was diagnosed with ADHD in middle school, studied psychology as an undergrad and I started understanding myself better and fell in love with psychology and working with kids. I got my masters degree and began teaching, eventually becoming an inclusion specialist. I was also looking for ways to include my students in a variety of activities. My students excelled because of it, the school culture shifted and I began working with other teachers and administrators to improve inclusion practices. I have since branched off and became the Inclusive Educator.
What is the biggest misconception around inclusion?
Inclusion isn’t a program because true inclusion exists within your child’s general education classroom- it’s not a class they go to. If only certain students can be in an inclusion program, it isn’t inclusive. Inclusion is an undeniable sense of belonging from the time a child walks into a classroom. It’s a feeling of belonging and being valued and celebrated.
How does inclusion affect a general education student?
A 2008 analysis of several studies found that inclusion had a neutral to positive impact on neurotypical students in 81% percent of studies. When there’s an inclusive classroom and culture, all students are learning more. School districts doing a good job being inclusive reveals an increase of graduation rates. Inclusion impacts general education students in that they improve in academics, but they’re also socializing with a reduced sense of fear, they generally have a stronger self esteem and better sense of self.
What are your top tips for inclusion?
Let your child lead because they will tell you one way or another when they’re ready to participate more. As a parent, be intentional about making positive connections with the multidisciplinary team. If your child isn’t being included, start slowly with focusing on what their interests are.
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-| This episode originally aired on September 22, 2022 on Once Upon A Gene. Listen, follow and subscribe here.