In today's episode, recorded live at the CEC 100th Anniversary, we were able to sit down with Dr. Claudia Rinaldi. She focuses her work and research on implementing comprehensive school reform efforts using evidence-based models, including Response to Intervention, Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports, and Multi-Tier System of Support. Her experience engages educators in improving systems and instructional practices for students with reading difficulties who may be at-risk for failure or English language learners with mild and moderate disabilities.
Rinaldi serves as a member of CEC, the Advisory Board for the Response to Intervention (RTI), and a review for the National Center on Response to Intervention.Tune in as Drs. Rebecca Hines and Lisa Dieker honor, celebrate, and reflect on Dr. Rinaldi’s career, the Council of Exceptional Education (CEC)’s past 100 years while also thinking ahead to the future.
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Rebecca Hines 0:07
Welcome to practical access. I'm Lisa Dicker. And I'm Rebecca Heinz. Lisa, as always one of our friends, a lot of friends. This one is really special friend of both of ours. Claudia Rinaldi, thank you for being with us, Claudia.
Dr. Claudia Rinaldi 0:23
Thanks for inviting me. Happy to be here.
Rebecca Hines 0:25
Yeah. So Claudia has a breadth of experience. But she is a Endowed Professor at LaSalle University in Massachusetts, and has been a cc Executive Board member or conference chair. And as you know, we're celebrating this 100 year anniversary of the Council for Exceptional Children. kind of curious, as you think back in your rich and wonderful career, what what are you most proud of, or excited that you've made an impact in the field to this point,
Dr. Claudia Rinaldi 0:52
I think that the thing that I feel most proud of, of the impact of hat is really bringing the voice of needs of children with learning disabilities that are also English learners, who are bilingual, they bring, you know, a wealth of skills and tradition and culture and language. And, you know, not a lot of people really look at that side of it. So that's kind of where I'm most proud of, is to just kind of put them in the table and the conversation and kind of get people to think about
Lisa Dieker 1:20
it, you've really brought a gift for that for us. And and seeing the strength of that, like I think your voice has been the that's the the strength of somebody who's twice diverse, is been really a voice that we appreciate. So thank you for that contribution. Yeah, thank you.
Rebecca Hines 1:35
And one of the reasons that we like cloudy so much is that she shares our belief that everything doesn't have to be parceled out and serve, you know, services in tiny little pigeon holes. So, as you as you think about strategies, specifically, what would you tell new teachers or teachers who just are not used to working with language learners? What are some things that they need to know are some tips you might have?
Dr. Claudia Rinaldi 2:08
Yeah, I love that question. Because I think the tip or the strategy that we know comes from research and evidence, and in the field is, you know, peer mediated learning, which really talks about engaging your students. In this case, you know, the majority culture students with the minority students that are learning English, and creating really an inclusive place for them to be able to hear good models of English, but also allow them to work in, in context where they could, you know, each learn from the value of their own culture and language, right, so creating opportunities for them to use translanguaging, but also to be able to learn the content from each other and be able to grow on both ends, both culturally, learning about this new student who's learning English and their cultural language, but for the English learner, to kind of know about, you know, what it's like to be in a classroom in America, you know, learning English and interacting and learning the content and curriculum.
Rebecca Hines 3:03
So I love that response. Because I think that's the struggle for teachers. But I also wonder where you might suggest for parents, I mean, I'm just imagining, I'm a parent, and my child speaks two languages. And I, I just have a suspicion that something's not right. But I don't know if it's a learning disability of the language. What's your advice for parents? And maybe, maybe somewhere they might go? If they're looking for some resources? Do you have some thoughts? Yeah.
Dr. Claudia Rinaldi 3:30
So I think one thing, even as a parent myself, have a child with a disability, I think, sometimes we kind of justify those red markers we might see. So just acknowledging a few who do think that there is a problem there might be and that you need to fill out, follow up on those resources. One organization that really kind of puts information in a in a Bible size for parents, it's understood that org, I'm an expert reviewer there, too. So I could see I've we've added a lot of content for parents, who have children who are learning English, or who are bilingual and struggling score. So I think that that is really a place where you could go to get more information about learning and attention issues, and, you know, kind of looking at what the law says what your rights are, what strategies you could do at home, and then link up and bring that up to the schools, you know, because oftentimes, they know what not oftentimes all the times parents know more about their children. But, but oftentimes, the teachers don't know about this resource. So if they could print out materials or, you know, shoulder phone, and you know, it gives them a tangible way to kind of say, Look, I've read a little bit about this, I know that there's something there that my child has, and you know, I need help. So, so I'm
Rebecca Hines 4:44
thinking, I'm a new teacher, and I have this privilege of talking to you and I have a student sitting in front of me, I see my roster, and it says I have three students that are second language English language learners, and they also I have learning disabilities. What? What, what do you suggest I do first? Besides look at that list in the worry? Yeah,
Dr. Claudia Rinaldi 5:09
well, I think you have two new friends to make. And that would be your teacher who's either the bilingual teacher or ESL teacher, the L teacher, whatever name or whatever kind of role they have in the scope of that works with our population students, and then the special ed teacher, right. And, you know, make it a regular practice to meet with them and monitor progress of the student in both areas in language development, proficiency, English language proficiency, and in meeting the IEP goals, and, you know, if you could get a structured time where you meet with them, and collaborate and co teach with them, right? Have them, invite them to a classroom give you feedback, you go to the classroom, learn where they do, I mean, I remember the gen ed teacher, I didn't know what the speech and language therapist did, I had no idea what the ESL teacher did, you know, so. So it's a matter of kind of learning from each other, and then co teaching in a way that would benefit both their students and students that have, you know, disabilities, and who are English learners.
Rebecca Hines 6:03
Yeah, I love that. I love that too. So I'm going to back that up even one step further. And maybe this is with someone who's particularly young, or someone who just moved in from another country or another culture, if I'm a teacher, and have a student who's just quiet. And we all know that students with learning disabilities in particular, as they age they start, they become, you know, a little more reserved.
So if I have? No, I just mean, it just mean in their academic discussions.
So let's say I'm a teacher, and I have a new student from who was it was an English learner? How do I how do I know? What signs do I look for? To determine whether that might also be a learning disability? How do I know the difference? What do I What do I look for? Do you have any, anything that I could, that I could investigate to help me understand? Is this a function of language? Or is this a function of a learning disability? Yeah,
Dr. Claudia Rinaldi 7:03
I mean, I think the first thing to do is really get to know the kids. So whatever it takes to kind of get to know them as a person, you know, as this little being in your school in your classroom. Think about the best relationship you have with your majority culture student, then try to replicate that. So not being afraid of learning about their language, learn a couple words of what they have with their languages, and to kind of build that relationship and start talking to the parents in ways or find an interpreter who could help you kind of ask questions, you know, because what we see is, if you have a difficulty in one language, you have it in the other language. So it's more likely that, you know, if, for example, you could show you know, some books to them, and see how they react to them. And the books would have to be obviously, in their main language. So, you know, kind of look to see what kind of literacy skills are there kind of like when we have little babies, and we're looking to see whether they recognize the front of the back of the book, you know, how they, you know, open the pages, are they pretending to read? Are they looking at the pic, you know, those kind of skills that we use for the for our students, but kind of do it in their language and kind of, you know, have those conversations, then when the parent and the child about, you know, their favorite story, their favorite thing to do, because that gives us a lot of insight is kind of like observation based assessment, right? It's giving you insights into what are their strengths? How do they think, how do they respond to people, their level of engagement with language? So you could really learn is it really an English proficiency problem, but they have a lot to say? Or, you know, they just don't really seem to be understanding in either language.
Lisa Dieker 8:40
So my last question for you is, we're fast forwarding into the future. What is your vision? What do you hope for? What do you hope it looks like for the beautiful, rich diversity of a child who has a learning uniqueness? And has the beauty richness of having more than one language?
Dr. Claudia Rinaldi 8:58
So I'm going to push back and say, I want to do it for the child, but I also want to do for the teachers. Okay, love it. For the child, I think, you know, what I envision is teachers that could send them the message that they can make it, you know, that they will make it that they will be supported along the way, and that they're invested in them. So if the children can have that feeling inside them, I think they'll know that they're going to be okay. English will come, you know, and they'll be able to, you know, become contributing members of society, which is what we want, right? For the parents, for the teachers. I think my vision is that we diversify the teacher pipeline because 92% of teachers are white in the state where I where I teach and run the countries by 80%. So it's not about feeling scared that we're diversifying the teaching field is barely even making a dent in having kids see teachers that look like them because that is what helps build relationship. You know, think about the last time you saw somebody that looked like you that was your age or that came For the same state or went to the same restaurant or whatever, there is a link already established with that. And I think our students who are bilingual and English learners don't really get to meet a lot of people in the process that, that they can, you know, relate to him things and then build relationships. And this was keeping them back. So how do we change that? That's my vision is to change that.
Lisa Dieker 10:19
Thanks. Beautiful response. Thanks. All right. Thanks for having me. Thanks for joining us. And if you have any questions, you can tweet them at Access practical or you can post them on our Facebook page. Thanks again, Claudia.