In today's episode, recorded live at the CEC 100th Anniversary, we sit down with Dr. Wendy Murawski. She is one of the nation’s top experts in co-teaching. Her research, publications, and presentations have been used nationally and internationally to help schools become more inclusive through the use of collaborative teaching. Dr. Murawski is also a former general education high school German teacher, as well as a former special education teacher with credentials in Learning Disabilities and Emotional/Behavioral Disabilities.
Tune in as Drs. Rebecca Hines and Lisa Dieker honor, celebrate, and reflect on Dr. Murawski’s career, the Council of Exceptional Education (CEC) 's past 100 years while also thinking ahead to the future. Don't forget we love to hear from our listeners! If you have any questions, feel free to reach out. We look forward to receiving your questions on our Google Phone (407) 900- 9305, Facebook (Practical Access), Twitter (@AccessPractical), or Instagram (@Practical_Access).
Lisa Dieker: [00:00:09] Welcome to practical access, I'm Lisa Decker
Rebecca HInes: [00:00:11] and I'm Rebecca Hines, and Lisa is jumping out of her seat for today's guest. Lisa, introduce your friend in mine,
Lisa Dieker: [00:00:20] so let's see, Tierra gotta ask you. I don't know what she'll ask me. Her name is Wendy Murawski, but she's also a very dear friend. And Wendy is a professor at Cal State Northridge. She's an endowed chair, and we'll just kind of add that she knows a little bit about teaching, inclusion and many other topics. I've heard of them. Yeah, you've heard of them. So welcome, Wendy. We're excited. You're with us.
Dr. Wendy Murawski: [00:00:41] Well, it's hard sitting across the two of you guys. You're not going to have anything good to say, but I will try.
Lisa Dieker: [00:00:47] We know you well, so we're starting today just kind of summarizing, since it's the 100th anniversary of what's something in your last hundred years? I know you're like one or two, but just about, yeah, that you would really be excited and really want to highlight is kind of like the pinnacle of something that you feel like you've contributed to the field to this point.
Dr. Wendy Murawski: [00:01:06] Know that I've contributed. Well, I'm an army brat, so I'm military and I've lived a lot of different places. And that means I've also experienced actually being in a one room schoolhouse when I was young. And so when I think to the field and how we've progressed, you know, we started with nobody having access to, you know, nobody having access to education, but only a few people having access to education. And that's changed a lot in the last hundred years. So I think what I've contributed in my time is really helping people look at that one room schoolhouse and now it's our general education classroom and we've got a million other options. But how do we look at that and say? We've got all these kids and they're so diverse, and now instead of doing these silos or all of our specialized learning that we've finally gotten, which is kind of awesome, it's excellent that we have specialists who know, you know, special education or occupational therapy or, you know, all of our different areas. But how do we now take them and bring them right back to kind of where we started? So I feel like what I've provided to the field is really a lens on how do we collaborate, how do we play nicely, which is pretty much not adding to the field much because kindergarten teachers have been doing that forever. So as I look back, I guess I haven't done anything nuts, but I would say just really, really helping us look at it's really OK. We've always had a lot of diversity. Now it's OK to say, how do we address it and how do we do it together using all of our specialized experience?
Rebecca HInes: [00:02:37] Right. And I think, you know, the word that I heard there that stands out and that all of us focus on constantly is access. And how do you give access? So, Wendy, you work with a lot of schools. What is your first tip? Let's say I'm working in a school at any level. I might be a teacher, I might be an administrator, and I want to be more inclusive and provide access to to more students to that that general education, that one room schoolhouse idea. What is my first step?
Dr. Wendy Murawski: [00:03:14] I think first is mindset, and unfortunately, I feel like that it's such an easy answer, but it's also so huge. But if you truly feel like I do, I want to learn more. I want to do more. And then you share that mindset with others and say, I'm scared. I am. I know it's going to take work. I know I may be. I don't have the resources. I don't have the expertise yet, but I have the right mindset. I think that's first. Then it would really look at universal design for learning. Our learning sciences have come a long way. We know about neurodevelopmental profiles. We know that kids learn differently. It's not a shock. Nobody's a shock for that. But because we know that if we now have the mindset of, OK, so how do I just start providing all these different means? It's going to help access it's going to help include and not just kids with identified disabilities, but right. It's it's really about everybody. It's that one room schoolhouse, right?
Rebecca HInes: [00:04:09] So if I'm if I'm if I'm a teacher, then it's maybe those things sharing shoulder to shoulder. And if I'm an administrator, maybe I'm planning for my building. [
Dr. Wendy Murawski: [00:04:19] It's still the mindset piece with the administrator. It's really helping everybody understand, Look, we're in this together. We've we do have a lot of expertise in our own schools. We can bring in experts for sure, but we have a lot of expertise even that Udall, even that understand a universal design for learning, can be modeled by an administrator to say My faculty are different. They have different areas of expertise. They have different passions and strengths. How can I change my faculty meeting to model the fact that I respect differences in everything I do? And that goes from the district office on down. If we keep doing everything lockstep in the way we've always done it, we're not modeling that we want something different.
Lisa Dieker: [00:05:02] So I love the fact that, you know, you talked about a one room schoolhouse, but you really said, but don't treat anybody like the same. So I love that, that that paradox. And so I know something that you believe and that you've seen as one person can change the world. And and so imagine the world, I don't know, 10, 20, 50, 100 years from now in the field of special ED. What is your vision for that individual kid, teacher, school house school room? What what do you all
Dr. Wendy Murawski: [00:05:31] keep with the house analogy? Because Lisa, you have a new house. And I've been working on this new analogy. But so if you think of the administrators as like contractors and then teachers would be the foreman, the house, the homeowner is really the parent. The house itself would be the child. And that house could be a small house, a big house, an apartment with a lot of kit, you know, whatever. I think we all we would all recognize that, OK, there are different city ordinances there, different laws that we're considering in different places. There are different house styles that we want homeowners going to have personal preferences for how their house is made and built. And there's a whole lot of some need a lot of dirt. So some need, you know, just depending on where we are. So but we all recognize we have to collaborate. We've got to bring in that plumber, bring in the electrician and they are specialists, but they're going to have to come in and collaborate a little bit or you're going to have somebody who is trying to put electricity in a water pipe. And I've learned that that's not a good thing. So using that analogy, I would say that one room schoolhouse still has a lot of needs and a lot of different houses within it. So I believe we can all collaborate so in 100 years. I really think we're going to look at every room and just go, Yup, there are differences. And yep, I'm teaching a lot of different ways, but that's what our CEOs of Fortune 500 companies are doing. That's what we all recognize when we walk into Walgreens and we have a greeter who says, Hi, welcome. And you realize that person maybe has some neurodiversity that, you know, is not typical for us. And that's like, All right, hey, you're different. That's cool. And so in 100 years, I think we're collaborating far better. We're really recognize and I think we're starting to do that at this 100 year celebration like we're celebrating differences. And I think people are truly doing that, really wanting. Maybe I should say we're really wanting to do that. That's why diversity, equity, inclusion so big in companies and not just in schools, we're really looking to what do we what can we do better? So I think we're going to get better. It's slow road, but I think we're at that one room schoolhouse is going to have a lot of people collaborating for it in it.
Lisa Dieker: [00:07:45] Well, it's interesting. I have one other quick follow up there, and this is kind of my last question for you. But I think also coming out of this time of change in services from online face to face hybrid back. Yeah. Do you see that that contractor having different ways kids might even be going?
Dr. Wendy Murawski: [00:08:02] Yeah, without a doubt. And if you think about universal design for learning, is that all those multiple means, right? If I am having a contractor, I might have somebody who is just going to zoom with me and talk about my needs. I'm going to have others who recognize now you need to come out and physically show me what you're talking about and map it on the floor because I don't get it. But definitely there are so many people I've talked to who have said, you know, actually, the pandemic for me was good. I recently published a tech care newsletter, two peer reviewed newsletter, and one of the authors was a junior in high school from West Virginia. And she wrote so articulately that she has dyslexia. And she said, finally, what this did was it leveled the playing field. All my teachers who have told me in the past, I am not allowed to give you more time. Well, now everybody had till midnight to turn it in and those hours made a difference for me. Every one of my teachers who said, I can't figure out the technology to let you use, you know, whatever your devices are now is like, you have devices think, OK, you know, I need those. So from the perspective, obviously, pandemic's hard, awful. But I do think it's made us recognize that again, not only do kids learn differently or do we teach differently, but let's embrace that. Let's learn from that and then move forward from there. And I think that's what we've been doing again slowly. This is not a quick process. I'm always about baby steps. But I do think we're doing a better job and we're learning.
Rebecca HInes: [00:09:30] Well, Wendy, thank you for helping us see the field in in a new way. With the new models, we're going to take your construction model and we'll build on it.
Dr. Wendy Murawski: [00:09:38] Oh my God. Nice.
Lisa Dieker: [00:09:42] Well, thank you for joining us with the. We appreciate you and you really have been impactful, both as a friend and as a leader in the field. So thank you for that. And so if you have questions, please send us a tweet at Access Practical or post a question to our Facebook page. Thanks. Thank you.