Digital Tools, Diverse Minds: Exploring the Intersection of Education and Inclusion

Episode 5

Digital Tools, Diverse Minds: Exploring the Intersection of Education and Inclusion


Amanda Sims-Comeaux

English Language Arts Content Educator and Specialist

The real learning happens in the actual engagement in the practice, and I would encourage any teacher out there that really wants to make a difference please make sure that you are surrounding yourself with people who do not look or do not think or do not act like you because that's where their true learning and understanding comes in, that's where tolerance stops and compassion begins.

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Digital Tools, Diverse Minds: Exploring the Intersection of Education and Inclusion

  • Amanda emphasizes the importance of understanding and catering to diverse learning styles, cultural backgrounds, and individual needs of students.
  • Building rapport with students and showing emotional intelligence is critical for effective teaching.
  • Connecting with students on a personal level can lead to better engagement and learning outcomes.

  • Use technology to engage students and meet the standards. Technology, such as audiobooks, provides new opportunities for learning and accessibility for students.
  • The use of technology doesn’t have to be overly complex; simple tools like quizzes and Kahoots can be effective in engaging students and supporting their learning.
  • By using technology creatively and with emotional intelligence, educators can make a significant impact on students’ academic success and foster a love for learning.
  • Data analytics can be used to identify students’ strengths and weaknesses and drive continuous improvement in learning outcomes.

  • Data analytics can be used to identify students’ strengths and weaknesses and drive continuous improvement in learning outcomes.
  • Engage students through their interests and habits can lead to improved learning experiences.
  • Creating inclusive learning environments requires educators to educate themselves and actively engage with diverse communities.
  • Meeting state standards while keeping lessons engaging and relevant can be achieved through creativity, adaptability, and finding connections between students’ interests and the curriculum.


Husena Jadliwala: Hello everyone! Welcome to the Educator Insights podcast. I’m your host Husena Jadliwala and I’m delighted to have you join us today. Our guest today is a true champion of change in education, Amanda Sims-Comeaux who is an English language Arts Content Educator and Specialist. Welcome to the show Amanda!

Amanda Sims-Comeaux: Hi, how are you?

Husena: Good good! We’re really glad to have you on the show today. In this episode, we’re going to delve into the fascinating topic of “Digital Tools, Diverse Minds: Exploring the Intersection of Education and Inclusion”. So together with you Amanda let’s explore how technology can be harnessed to create an inclusive learning environment that celebrates the uniqueness of every student.

Amanda: That sounds great I’m excited I’m excited about this.

Husena: Yeah, and to our incredible listeners, we appreciate your support and enthusiasm. So, let’s get ready to be inspired as we embark on this thought-provoking conversation. Amanda like I said we’re really glad to have you on the show today and I think a really great place to start would be for our listeners to get to know you a little bit.

Amanda: Okay.

Husena: So, if you could speak a little about your experience as an English teacher at Fort Bend ISD and really what motivated you to pursue a career in education.

Amanda: Wow. Well thank you First of all, thank you again for having me. So, my career as a teacher has kind of been a nonconventional one. I am an English teacher currently. But I am also not in my 20s. So, I guess one could conclude that I had a career before education, right? But I’ve always been an education focused Career. So, I did admissions, advising, I did college admissions, I was a graduate assistant, and I did a little bit of TA Work. So, I’ve always worked around education and so when the Covid Pandemic really hit, I felt compelled really to hop into the classroom and so my time as an educator at Fort Bend has been challenging. But it’s also been fun. It’s been innovative and it’s also been amazing to see how technology has kind of been forced to grow to such a large space in such a short amount of time.

Husena: That’s amazing! I just love how you’ve seen education from many different perspectives if I can say that we and I love that all of these you know paths eventually led back to the classroom for you?

Amanda: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Husena: And what I really want to understand not that we had a glimpse of your background is to dive a little bit deeper into your experience. As a teacher in the classroom, could you tell us a little bit more about how you approach creating lesson plans and I understand that you have a very diverse group of students. So how do you approach that?

Amanda: Yeah, well to start the district that I’m with is one of the most diverse in the country indefinitely. One of the most diverse within Texas. I want to say that within my district alone there are over 60 languages that are spoken.

Husena: Oh wow.

Amanda: And so and also with diversity. You know like people kind of chunk it like oh diversity is this one thing. But no, you have language diversity, you have cultural diversity, you have racial diversity, right? You have all of this learning style diversity, right? For example, I may go in front of my class and give a lecture and two out of my 30 students really got it right? But if I associate that lecture with a video or play an audio or we play a game that’s based on that same concept. Well now I have 27 28 kids out of 30 that get the concept so when it comes to just my experience as an educator I found that it is required of you to be adaptable, especially now even outside of the realm of diversity just dealing with kids in this age range, they have so many different things pulling their attention right.

Husena: Right.

Amanda: So You know I’ll say back in the old days right? When I was in school, you kind of you know you sit down, you get your lesson and you pay attention and that’s it. Well with these kids there you know that’s not the case and they’re not afraid to challenge the status Quo. So, it’s up to the educator to also be innovative and use different things such as technology to make sure that they’re engaging their students to make sure that they’re successful.

Husena: So that’s a great point and you know something interesting that I just saw recently it was a picture of an old classroom where students were just sitting at their desks, and you know with perhaps a piece of paper on their table. And then a newer classroom and I suppose would be a university lecture hall where all the students were sitting with their laptops right? So, their laptops are kind of blocking their faces and on their laptop screens you could see that not everyone was doing their work.

Amanda: Okay, here. Focused on. Yeah yeah.

Husena: So that’s exactly kind of what you said as well, which is interesting, and I think another interesting point that you brought up was understanding the individual needs of each student because that is definitely crucial for effective teaching.

Amanda: Absolutely.

Husena: Would you be able to share some specific examples of strategies you might have employed to cater to your students’ unique requirements.

Amanda: I think one of the primary things and it may sound a bit soft skillish. But one of the things that make me so effective as a teacher is my determination and my ability to establish rapport with my students individually. So, for example, I had students because for some reason this generation the students are like obsessed with like 90s in like grunge right? So, I saw one of my students and I noticed that he really didn’t have a lot of friends right and didn’t really engage in class and stuff like that. But I noticed he would always wear Nirvana shirts and so one day I put on a nirvana song smells like teen spirit because I’m always playing music in my classroom. And so, when I played that song he looked at me was like oh my gosh! you know this song? And I’m like yeah, the song’s older than you right? But after that then he was more willing to approach me and say hey, you know, can you help me or hey I have a question or if I ask a question to the class then it was more likely that he would raise his hand, so believe it or not, a lot of the academic strategies that I use hinge on my ability and my determination to build rapport with students. I feel like that is completely completely critical but also kind of back to what I said earlier the adaptability piece so being able to know, okay I might have a kid in a classroom that has a cell phone and then I might have a kid in the classroom that has a laptop in their backpack and a computer at home. But then I might have a kid that might not have any access to technology, right? So, making sure that I have laptop carts in my classroom making sure that I allow them to turn in work in different ways. So, whether it be oh you can, type it up or you can submit it a printed type of paper, right? Just kind of being adaptable and trying to meet the students where they are not necessarily bringing the bar down but just making sure that everybody can achieve what you’re putting in front of them.

Husena: No, that’s an excellent point and I love that story about how you connected to something that a student you know, already kind of relates to and you played that song. You know you just you build that rapport with him, and I think that also plays into how important emotional intelligence is in supporting a student’s personalized needs as well. You know that is one great example that you shared you have any other experiences that you could share where your use of emotional intelligence meets a significant impact on a student’s learning journey.

Amanda: Yeah, absolutely I think in and honestly, I feel like I can speak to this. Not only because I practice it but it’s something that was offered to me, right? So, when I was younger when I was in school and you know we talk, I talk a lot about the old days you know, sit down at your desk and be quiet or whatever. But even during that time you know going to a small-town school, I had teachers that were invested in me and who I was and who saw me for who I was right? One of my mentors and she says it perfectly. She says people don’t care about what you know until they know how much you care right? So, it doesn’t matter if you’re Albert Einstein. If you have no interest in me and my success. I don’t care what you have to say it doesn’t matter to me right? Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, right? If kids don’t feel safe enough to open to you or talk to you, then it’s highly unlikely that they will be successful in your classroom.

Husena: That is so true. I think you mentioned this earlier as well. But all of the economic strategies that you know that you’ve learned through your education as you were learning to be a teacher but at the end of the day having that emotional intelligence to understand a student on another level to kind of build a rapport with them to show that you care like you said that is super super important and you know alongside that though as a teacher I’m sure that you do have some targets to meet you do you are answerable. You are accountable and some of you know, especially in the US, one of the main things that keeps coming up is being sure that you’re aligning your curriculum to state standards because at the end of the day your school as much as these are so important it is also not something that you can necessarily, it’s not tangible, not something you can show the school that you’re working for. So, my question really sorry that was a bit long-winded, but my question really is how do you strike a balance between meeting these standards right? And still keeping the lessons engaging and relevant for your students.

Amanda: It’s all about making the connection, right? So, there has to be some kind of love. Here I mean you just, I have to just say that because if you don’t care as a teacher and you’re not really invested in making sure that your students succeed in attaining those standards, then you’ll find yourself googling a whole bunch of worksheets and just throwing work in front of the kids without anyone really learning anything. So there has to be some level of love or passion to actually make that connection. But yes, absolutely one of the things that I like to do is learn and read myself right? So, our district is fantastic about providing resources for us. Our professional developments also kind of provide us a lot of information but outside of that I like to review tiques my own. In Texas recently, I think they’ve changed, I want to say like twice in the past three years since the pandemic so just kind of making sure that I am up to date on what it says reading different books about reading and writing strategies right, making sure that I’m communicating with the other teachers on campus and saying hey what is it that you guys are doing right? And also just being actively asking questions right? So, I talk a lot, not only our people on campus, our experts on campus but also our district-wide professionals and coincidentally many times they often refer us to technology resources that we have so different. One drives that we have are we use a lot of Quizzes and Kahoots and things like that to engage our students which and with Texas the tiques is so massive. It takes a lot sometimes to whittle it down so I will say that it does take a lot of work to kind of find those connections especially trying to diversify and make sure making sure you’re appealing to all those different students but it’s a smudges board of different things that I have to do in order to make sure that we’re both meeting those standards and engaging students at the same time.

Husena: Yeah, I can definitely see that, and I know you touched a little bit on technology helping with that and we did speak earlier also about trying to help students keep their focus and technology can be great for that because they’re already so attached to it but they can also be distracting. It’s like you know, two sides of the same coin. But that said, you know engaging students in the learning process, as we know is a challenge. If you can expand a little bit more on how you might use technology to captivate your students interest and while keeping to the standards which you need to anyway.

Amanda: Sure. I love that question because sometimes we hear technology and automatically like I know a lot of people automatically; you think technology think oh my gosh you’re doing like coding and building websites. So, I mean, I’m a millennial so, I mean for half of us technology is this fun. Wonderful! Great thing and for the other half of us, it’s like I prefer my pen and paper, right? So, I’m in that weird age kind of split I guess but when I think of the use of technology, I’ll give you a perfect example. I have students, some of whom are Neuro divergent some of who are, just have an a array of different kind of learning challenges. One young lady specifically in this, she’s Oh my gosh. We’re not supposed to have favourites I know, but she’s one of my favourites but she’s dyslexic and so she you know hated English before she came into my class. And so we got to a certain point where we were reading something Oh my gosh I cannot tell you what it was but I understood that she was dyslexic and I wanted the kids to follow along with me as you read. So, I had to kind of like get creative. So, what we decided to do was we played the audio book. But as we played the audiobook, kids were also allowed to follow along in the book and every let’s say about page and a half we would pause and I would make the kids reenact what was just said or I would get the article and I would do it myself right. So, what that allowed me to do was kind of catch all so this baby has dyslexia but she’s hearing it and she’s seeing it and then I’m stopping it and we’re reenacting it right?

Husena: I just, I love that. I mean I was just reading up a little bit earlier about you know a layered curriculum, and this sounds exact like it right? That’s amazing.

Amanda: Yeah, you got you got to figure out how to hit. You know they say 2 birds 1 stone. I say like 7 birds 2 stones, right? You got to figure out how to hit all of those key points at the same time so just being able to think on your feet and it was so awesome because at the end of the year, I hear from her mom and she’s her mom is like oh my gosh I have to go to her room and tell her to put her book away because it’s time to go to bed. Now she was like, I never thought that my daughter would be like stuck on reading now her new favorite authors – Colleen Hoover the really awesome new young adult. So, she’s like into it but the baby’s dyslexic so before she wasn’t reading anything at all and now you know she’s reading at ten thirty at night and her mom’s like, I’m going to come take your book, go to bed. Like how freaking awesome! I hope when my son is a teenager, I have to come and snatch his book away at night and not his phone or his TV right? Or his gaming system. So, I think you know what it wants to again out I’ll give myself away, I’m one of those boomer millennials right? I like the books, I want to flip my pages, so reading is not really if it’s on your phone.

Husena: But he could be reading on his phone just saying.

Amanda: At least that’s what the old people would say.

Husena: I Love that I love that. But yeah, that is such an amazing story. I Love it when you know you have but I hear these stories about students who’ve come in and they feel like the you know they’re just not going to succeed in a certain subject or in school in general sometimes for some students and you know you’re taking the time to figure out what would work for and your use of technology and like you said not in an extremely fancy way. You’re not sitting there like building a robot or anything like that but basically you’re using the good thing. Good thing to come out of technology even in it.

Amanda: Yeah, absolutely.


Husena: Even in us in its small form which is an audio book right? That’s not something that necessarily would have been available. You know years ago when you’re looking at those old classrooms when students are with their pen and paper, and they don’t have an opportunity to learn in in different formats. So, I just, I love that, I love that story so much. Thank you for sharing. And you know another aspect of technology that comes to mind while we are talking about this is in data analytics and you know considering you have such a diverse group of students, I’m assuming and you can correct me if I’m wrong, that having some form of data analytics to refer to might give you some valuable insights into your students strengths and weaknesses. Could you explain perhaps how you utilize this data to drive continuous improvement in your students’ learning outcomes.

Amanda: Absolutely, so there is a testing platform that my district uses called rent 360 and the rent 360 is basically just like a diagnostic and tracking kind of test software, right? And that’s just one tool, but I can do this with a simple assessment right? Let’s say, I have a diversified assessment and I am trying to understand student comprehension on analysis characterization and just drama, right? So, I will create targeted questions on those specific things and then give the diagnostic. So, once I’ve received the information, the grading back then I can go literally item by item to see where my students are and that’s kind of what I did with Ren 360 and it helps our students to prepare for the star exam which is our exam in Texas and so when I’m able to do that it allows me to focus specifically on those areas that they need the most help in right? So, I did that with the rent 360 this year and I also did it with another review that I created personally just based off the classroom activities and we did a boot count I got the results for the diagnostic, I want to say in like January. So, from February through April, when it was time for them to take the test. That’s what we focus primarily on now of course it’s school. We have to learn other things but at least two days a week we were focusing primarily on those things. And I want to say oh gosh, I don’t want to mess up the numbers. But I want to say the first diagnostic we did, we had like 71% passing. It was high sixtys, low 70 something like that. But then by the time we got the actual star test back, 86% of the students have been passing right. So, it was like so significant. Overall percentage improved based on the fact that we had this data. We knew exactly what it was that we needed to attack and we actively did that and the students saw success from that. So, Data Analytics I’m a teacher. But I’m in love with data. I’m also an associate project manager right? So, like I said I had a life before teaching and one of my favourite things to do would be to do data digs and extract kind of information because then when you have that information you can set goals when you have goals.

Husena: Exactly. I totally hear you. The whole idea of having data especially learning analytics, is you know, you can make informed decisions in your classroom thereafter.

Amanda: You can set action right? So yeah, very important.

Husena: You’re not wondering about where a student is lagging because you have that data. And you know, like you said, that’s it’s just so helpful to then get into focused learning and have your students focus on what their weak and improve on that. Because I am a true believer in practice makes perfect and the scores speak for themselves which again is data. Speaking of data that helps drive students improvement, I think another key factor in driving students improvement is the practice which we spoke about. It doesn’t just happen in school but also happens at home and which brings me to my next kind of topic of discussion which is about online platforms and using technology to foster student parent and community participation. Do you have any examples of how you might have successfully encouraged engagement through these platforms.


Amanda: Yeah. Well, I’m going to sound like a bad teacher when I say this, but I do not believe in the holistic concept of homework. Now I have to qualify that though. I’m also a ninth-grade English teacher, right? So, I’m not necessarily preparing them for their freshman year in college. And also, I have to qualify that by saying that these years post-covid have been very very interesting right. And the students aren’t necessarily the same as they were before that right? So, they literally have gone from being in a classroom to being in their bed with their head on their pillow in the classroom, on the computer to back in class like within three or four years right so that’s a little bit adjusting. So, I have to just kind of put that out there first. Now I say that to say when I do engage with online platforms to build those bridges it’s usually outside of the homework space right? So, I’m not emailing home saying hey mom and that this is what your student has been assigned this week make sure that they get it done. Instead, I’m saying things like, hey this is a star prep course that is going on or hey I got this information about a gifted and talented program that I think your student would be great for, these are the activities that are going on at the school, you guys should you know think about engaging are coming out right? So my activity basically when it comes to online platforms focuses more so on that building rapport, building relationships aspect do I have to call because the student has some outstanding assignments and they need to get them done before I have grades. Do absolutely do I call if a student is act acting up very very very rarely. I think in my whole teaching career, I’ve called home maybe like 4 or 5 times right in total but I find that those online platforms that we use that those schoology messages that reaching out via scour things like that. It’s more effective when the parent doesn’t feel like oh man, what did my kid do this time does that make sense. Yeah.

Husena: Right? For sure. And thank you for sharing that. Yeah, I know that this is what’s the right word for this contentious topic about homework. But yeah I see where you’re coming from as well, especially considering that you teach a very diverse group of students and making sure that, that you’re teaching them in a way that they learn sometimes, that’s more effective if you do it in school rather than at home. Sometimes at home is just about enforcing those you know skills that you’ve already taught them in school. And yeah, I’m glad that you do share that back with the parents and where it’s appropriate. But yeah, that’s really interesting to hear about and thank you, thank you for sharing.

Amanda: Right and I’m sorry to the viewers, if I’m offending any teachers out there for being anti homework. But yeah, I just and this is just a side. I feel like sometimes we underestimate our students, right? I think sometimes they’re immature because we don’t expect more of them side story I have a son that will be 2 years old next month. He’ll be 2 years old on August Fifteenth. I’m going to go get him tomorrow. But for this whole past week he’s been in, I’ll just say middle or nowhere Texas where my mom is right? So, she was like you got to bring him to me for a week. I want to keep him for a week and I’m like mom you’re stressing me out my baby away from my house for a whole week like his home like where all his teddy bears and toys are like what’s going on like I don’t want to do that. And so my husband was like babe we have to do this. We have to let him go. He’s going to have a fantastic time. This little boy has not cried, screamed, hoard for his mama. Not one time since he’s been gone right, and I had a conversation with my husband, I was like wow this really is amazing because it shows me that he is ready for some of the milestones or some of the things and I feel like, I’m holding him back and I think that we do that with our kiddos right? As teachers, as parents we say ok, you’re in ninth grade. So, this is what you are capable of so this is what I’m going to expect of you versus you know, letting them just climb up the monkey bars and if they fall it’s okay, it’s okay, let them they will learn let them climb back up there and do it again. Let them bump their head a few times. That’s how we develop our reflexes right. So, I know that’s a little kind of like side story. But I think it applies just kind of in the game of life when it comes to school and our students and you know being ready to have that safety net right? So being ready to you know play the story as they read the story and then play out the story but also allowing them room to stretch and soar and kind of you know, kind of being a little bit of wind underneath their wings at the same time.

Husena: That’s so true. I do agree that sometimes we underestimate our students they are definitely capable of more and you know just bringing this back to educational technology for a minute, one thing that I find personally I find myself underestimating my students with is their ability to work with technology. They’re actually far more advanced than I am sometimes and even the young ones and I sometimes forget? So, which brings me to the fact that like you said you, you got to the classroom it was you know because of Covid. Covid Really really made educational technology come upfront you know, like it really transformed classrooms. That said, do you have some examples of how not just in your teaching with not just in your classroom teaching. But how you might have incorporated edtech tools and resources into your teaching practices in terms of creating your lesson plans or you know so not just while you’re in the classroom and how this might have had a positive impact on your overall student learning experiences right.

Amanda: Students love Accessibility is what I’ve learned. The students love to know that they can reach you like outside of the classroom. So yes, like if I’ll like say for example out one of the clubs that I’m a sponsor of on campus and we did a field trip right? But instead of we went to an art gallery instead of us Oh, you have to write this down about this artist, my other co-sponsor and I created a game. Ok, so you have to create via it was like an Adobe app or something or an Instagram story something where you can create like a chain of stories they had to go to 6 to 7 different artists completely different artworks but they had to find music and they also actually I believe it was Tiktok not to think about it but they had to find music to accompany their story and use those different art pieces to create one cohesive story this was for black history month right? So, I’m forcing you to go and look at the art. I’m forcing you to read about the artist but I’m also forcing you to use something like Tiktok or Instagram that you use every day. I’m also allowing you to access your catalog of music that you like to put something with it to accompany it right? Another example, so there is this incredible incredible Youtube series. It’s called autodale. It’s say in like a dystopian society but autodale a UTOD a l e and I want to say there are like 7 or 9 episodes. Well, I wanted to teach my kids about a dystopian society we were about to read some George Orwell 1984 and I’m like how I can help.

To connect to this idea of a dystopia, right? Like how I can get them to connect over the weekend. Guess what your homework was. We’re watching a Youtube series right? and it was so cool because they reminded me on that Monday when we came back reminded me of those conversations with my girlfriends like oh girl did you watch that new Netflix movie yada yada yada like you know, did you see all the things that happened and that actually happened in the classroom because it’s some art that they were able to access. Outside the classroom right? and I know some parent out there probably thought I was crazy like your teacher is giving you a Youtube series to watch over the weekend like your teacher has you binge watching for homework but it was so cool because we were able to come back into the classroom and talk about all of these different concepts that then we were able to connect to. And then that provided an amazing segue into this unit on George Orwell right so I really like to um and I’m a media arts person as well. Like I said I always play music and stuff in my classroom so connecting to not just what they like but their habits right? If I Know you gonna be on your phone, I tease my kids all the time. This will probably get edited out but I tease my kids all the time. I’m like if I tell you to go and give me a comment on a post. I was like y’all can go do that while you own your toilet because everybody goes takes their phone to the toilet right? And all the kids, Oh that’s so grouse. All that’s so nasty, but it’s true, right? So not only just tapping into the things you like but tapping into your habits I know you keep your phone on you. So let me assign this thing to you and you can just do it on your phone right? Once again, it’s that meeting the kids where they are and when they see that you’re flexible. They want to perform for you because now like I said they know you care. So now they care about what you know so they want to engage with you at a higher level.

Husena: Yeah, I get that. I mean if you didn’t ask your students to binge watch their show over the weekend. They were probably going to binge watch not the show Anyway. I love that I love that. So we are reaching the end of our session here today. But before we wrap up what I’d love to hear more about because you’ve already shared somebody if there were a few more you could share about some of the most rewarding moments you’ve experienced as an educator where you know some particular instances where you really felt your efforts truly made a difference in a student’s life.

Amanda: I’ve had quite a few of those moments and I’m not saying that because I’m just an awesome great person. I’m saying that because I think the times that we’re in right now call for that kind of teacher. You know, it provides a lot and opportunities to be a hero. I was reading an article the other day and it was talking about how suicidal ideation is at an all-time high for teenagers right now specifically teenage girls and that just kind of like shook me to my core. Because I’ve had students in those types of positions. But the one situation that I’ll share. I have a note right now I’m literally looking at it right now and it’s a little clip of paper off a piece of college rule paper and it’s written in pencil and it says someone out there feels better because you exist. I had a student that wrote this on a sheet of paper, and he just gave it to me. Now the story behind this student when he first came into my classroom, I was like oh my lord? What is going on with this kid. He was disruptive. He was known to start fights his reputation literally followed him from middle school. They had put him in about 3 different teachers’ class and I was like kind of like the last resort. And we struggled to form a relationship. It was kind of to the point to where It’s like because his parent involvement just wasn’t in the proper place and I’ll just leave it at that. But he basic respect skills were not there, right? His brother had graduated maybe a year or two before that. And his brother was nearly put out of school for fighting an assistant Principal. So, it was a situation but instead of just disregarding this kid and writing him off, I felt the need to engage with him more so I met him where he was. If he wanted to come and talk to me and tell me a completely inappropriate joke that should never be told in school. I would probably laugh and then say ok now come on now like let’s try to do a little bit better. Let’s work. Let’s work on our dad joke material, right? Let’s perfect our dad Jokements right? So, gentle redirection and I worked with this kid for about six or seven months and he literally went from uncontrollable like nobody wanted to deal with him to actually like getting straight B’s and C’s in school. And somebody might hear them like Bs and Cs. That’s none to be proud of oh for this baby I was elated, and he passed me this note maybe like two months after they had taken them out of my class. It was like not far before school came out and he just handed it to me. He just took off walking and I’m like hey stop. I was calling his 9 ways style. Let me talk to you and I looked down at the note and I just burst out crying because once again it says someone out there feels better because you exist and that tells me that my existence, my willingness to just engage with him. Not my tolerance, but my compassion. And I wanting to make him feel accepted, right? And I think that at its core, that’s what teaching is all about. It’s not about oh just making sure the good kids get to where they need to go. But sometimes it’s engaging with what we would consider some of the lowliests of society because that’s all the school is. It’s a reflection of the world right? Little mini mead right. So being able to sometimes engage with what we might consider what’s lower on the social wrong and letting them know that they matter to because they do.

Husena: That is an amazing story and you’ve been sharing a lot of stories throughout this conversation. But that really took the kick, and I was silent there because I was just really, I was Shook as well as you were telling the story. So that’s amazing. And you know considering that you’ve I think a lot that you have shared today is not just a testament to your teaching ability but also just your ability to relate to people. I’m using students as people here in general.

Amanda: Yeah, Right.

Husena: And that really goes hand in hand in the teaching career in general. I find that you have to be able to relate to your students and you’ve really really shown that ability. But I know that there are teachers probably listening to this podcast as well. So, as we conclude our conversation, what I’d like to ask you is if you have any advice or insights that you would offer to other educators who also aspire to create inclusive engaging and effective learning environments.

Amanda: Wow I think the number one thing would to be to educate yourself but make sure that you are putting that education into practice right? I took french when I was in middle school and I was really good at French while I was in it. But of course, as we all know there aren’t many French people in Texas so the same language that I was able to learn is the same language I lost and something that I have and I even had this conversation with the co-worker of mine who said I’m an african-american and she is a white lady and she told me she said oh yeah, I’ve been reading these books and I’m like okay you’re reading books about you know just all of the different social issues that I will not get into right now but she’s been reading books but you might be reading books about these social issues. But when you go home. How many races do you see? Do you only surround yourself with people who look like you in your friend circle. Do you go out to dinner with other people from other different walks of life and not just racially but like hey culturally right? Do you have any friends that might qualify as disabled, or do you have any friends that might you know engage with the Queer community be a LGBTIQQ right? Do you practice what you preach, do you practice what you read right? So, what I say is you can you know, read those books all day you can engage with those resources all day long. But if you are reading books about learning strategies. But you’re not actively engaging with Neuro divergent students or students from. Different societal Backgrounds. What is the point of that. So, the real learning happens in the actual engagement in the practice, and I would encourage any teacher out there that really wants to make a difference please make sure that you are surrounding yourself with people who do not look or do not think or do not act like you because that’s where their true learning and understanding comes in that’s where tolerance stops and compassion begins.

Husena: That is an amazing, amazing way to end this conversation, Amanda! Thank you so much for sharing your valuable insights and recommendations. Your expertise in creating inclusive learning environments is truly inspiring.

Amanda: Thank you so much for having me. It has been a ball sharing with you and you’ve really helped me to kind of reconstruct some of my thought processes. So, I’m excited about the next year coming in.

Husena: That’s amazing Amanda! So, I just want to again let you know that we deeply appreciate your presence and the priceless perspective that you’ve provided us today. To all our cherished listener, we sincerely hope you’ve absorbed a wealth of knowledge and found inspiration in our conversation today. Feel free to share your thoughts related to today’s subject on various social platforms using the #MagicEducatorInsights. Remember to stay tuned for upcoming episodes where we will engage in more captivating topics on Educator Insights until then stay curious and keep learning.

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