From Barriers to Belonging: The Power of Peers in Inclusive Schools presented by Dr. Erik Carter will provide a roadmap for creating schools where students with intellectual and developmental disabilities can feel a deep sense of belonging and create lasting friendships among peers.

ALL students should feel a deep sense of belonging in their school communities. But for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities, this sense of belonging and the development of friendships among typical peers has largely been absent in their educational experience, due to a long history of exclusion and segregation of students with disabilities in schools. Separate schools, separate classrooms, separate curriculums has led to isolation for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities, which has resulted in negative effects on relationships and learning outcomes for these students.

While many schools are moving toward integration and inclusion of students with disabilities in general education classrooms, simply being in the room is not enough. Students with disabilities need to participate in ways that lead to deep belonging and connection with peers in their communities. 

That’s why the PA Inclusion Collective and the PEAL Center are excited to provide families and educators in Pennsylvania this 3-part series. During these sessions, we will take a deep dive into how to create classrooms and schools where all students feel a sense of authentic belonging, how peers can be used as natural support for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and how schools can help students who have historically been among the most isolated and marginalized in our society to form lasting social connections and friendships. 

Who is this series for? Parents, educators, related service providers, school administrators, and community members across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (and fellow inclusionists across the country).

About the Speaker: Dr. Erik Carter is the Luther Sweet Endowed Chair in Disabilities at Baylor University and Executive Director of the Baylor Center for Developmental Disabilities. His research addresses strategies for supporting inclusion and belonging in schools, workplaces, and congregations for children and adults with disabilities. He has published widely in the areas of educational and transition services, including more than 300 articles, chapters, and other publications. Read more about his work at www.erikwcarter.com/writing

February 6, 2024: Creating Communities of Belonging for Students with Disabilities

February 13, 2024:  Peer Support Arrangements: Supporting Relationships and Learning in Inclusive Classrooms

February 20, 2024: Peer Networks: Fostering Friendships Beyond the Classroom

All sessions will be held virtually from 6-8 p.m. EST. Can’t make it live? No worries. Sessions will be recorded and available to registrants following the live presentation. BUT you have to register to get this access. 

Register Here

Session 1, Tuesday February 6, 2024

Creating Communities of Belonging for Students with Disabilities

Students learn best and flourish most when assured of their belonging. However, too many schools still struggle to become places of widespread and meaningful inclusion for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities. This session will address a powerful framework for fostering belonging in classrooms, schools, and other community settings. We will reflect together on the roles we can each play in spurring change within the communities we care deeply about.

 

Session 2, Tuesday February 13, 2024

Peer Support Arrangements: Supporting Relationships and Learning in Inclusive Classrooms

General education classrooms can offer an abundance of relationship and learning opportunities for students of all ages. What does it look like to support students with intellectual and developmental disabilities to access these important social and academic experiences? This session will focus on peer support arrangements as an effective and practical approach for supporting meaningful inclusion in academic and elective classrooms. Join us to learn about how schools can adopt these evidence-based approaches and the difference it makes.

 

Session 3, Tuesday February 20, 2024

Peer Networks: Fostering Friendships Beyond the Classroom

Peer relationships are especially important to the thriving of children and youth. How might schools create new avenues for students with and without disabilities to meet one another and develop mutual friendships? This session will introduce peer networks as a powerful way of enhancing the social lives of students with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Join us to learn how these practical strategies can be adopted in a wide variety of schools and settings.

 

What is the PA Inclusion Collective? A grassroots parent group, representing parent support organizations from eight school districts in suburban Philadelphia (Cheltenham, Lower Merion, Methacton, North Penn, Pottsgrove, Radnor, Tredyffrin Easttown, and Upper Dublin.)  The PA Inclusion Collective’s purpose is to bring nationally known speakers on inclusive education to families, teachers, administrators and support staff within our schools. The goal is to inspire families, teachers, school administrators and staff to learn together and to advocate for individual students and create change in our schools and communities.

Please join the PA Inclusion Collective Facebook page to follow their news, share resources, and keep the conversation about inclusive education going.