Practical Access Podcast

S7 E10: CEC Inclusive Education with Dr. Peggy Schaefer-Whitby

March 30, 2022 Season 7 Episode 10
Practical Access Podcast
S7 E10: CEC Inclusive Education with Dr. Peggy Schaefer-Whitby
Show Notes Transcript

In today's episode, recorded live at the CEC 100th Anniversary, we sit down with Peggy Schaefer Whitby, Ph.D., BCBA-D. She is an associate professor at the University of Arkansas and the program coordinator for Inclusive Education and Clinical Programs. Dr. Whitby has worked in the area of special education and applied behavior analysis for more than 20 years. She specializes in autism spectrum disorders.

Tune in as Drs. Rebecca Hines and Lisa Dieker honor, celebrate, and reflect on Dr. Schaefer-Whitby’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: [00:00:07] Welcome to practical access, I'm Lisa Dieker.  

Rebecca Hines: [00:00:09] And I'm Rebecca Hines, and we're excited about today's guest because we have a friend and colleague we like from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, who is a professor. Dr. Peggy Whitley Schafer. Nice to see you.  

Dr. Peggy Schafer: [00:00:24] It's great to be here. You forgot to add that I'm a lead scholar from 2009.  

Lisa Dieker: [00:00:29] Oh, we were going to expose that. We're all of it, which means you are with us at one point as a privilege on our end to have you as a Ph.D. student for those who don't know what a lead scholar, so. So, Peggy, we're going to start today with kind of a question. We've been asking for the season and thinking about your career. You've taught your professor, you're influencing teachers. What are you most excited or feel is the greatest impact you've had so far in the field?  

Dr. Peggy Schafer: [00:00:59] I would say working with families and teachers and bringing real practical, evidence based practices to the classroom into to the home interventions that teachers and families can impact or apply immediately that have great impact. And so working with these teachers and families and seeing change within their children is really what drives me.  

Rebecca Hines: [00:01:24] So that's a great Segway into what I always like to have, which is, you know, so I'm a teacher and I recognize, you know what? I could do more. I could do more to bridge this parent gap. Maybe it's something I haven't even thought a lot about or pre-service teacher building up my repertoire. Where could I get started in building this bridge to a good relationship with parents of my students?  

Dr. Peggy Schafer: [00:01:50] I think there's two ways you can do that. One of the first ways is really you start from the very beginning of developing a relationship with that family. One way that I do that is to do a family based routines interview. So I like to talk with the family about what they're already doing in the home. And then when I ask them to embed one of my interventions, I'm not asking them to do anything different. They're still using their routine. They're just doing something within their routine, and it's easy for them. And again, I usually start with something like positive reinforcement so they can see an immediate response with their child and then they want to learn more. So I think it's taking the time to build that relationship, taking time to understand the family through their culture and family routines, and then asking them to build within the routines they already have. Our families are extremely busy, and if they knew what to do, they'd be doing it. Mm-Hmm. And many of our families are, you know, working, taking care of the kids, taking care of the family. Those are their priorities. And so you need to work within the system that they have.  

Lisa Dieker: [00:03:00] I love that. So I'm going to ask a similar question. But the flip side of that, so imagine I'm a new teacher and I've burnt a bridge framing bridge with the parents. Maybe and not intentional. Maybe because I was new. I forgot. You know, I don't believe that parent teacher relationships that go south are usually intentional on either part. What might you be suggesting because you do have such great experience with families in a lot of work with families of kids, even with autism spectrum disorder? Where might I start in trying to rebuild that relationship?

Dr. Peggy Schafer: [00:03:35] I think the first thing that you need to do is to really listen to parents. I think sometimes we come in with too strong of an expert focus that we're the expert and we're going to tell kind of tell you what to do. So I think listening to the parent and trying to understand their lens and their perspective. And so I would start with. If you've burnt that bridge, they might not answer the phone. And sometimes we wonder why families don't return a call or answers, but they've received so many phone calls with us complaining about their child, they finally have put your right number on the block. So I think you have to kind of turn that around. You're going to use that same type of positive reinforcement with those families as you're going to your with with the child. And so it might be starting with notes home, you know, using those positive notes that are going home and then maybe asking them to come into the classroom and do something for you versus, you know, you telling them what to do. So it might be something like a family day where we get to contact that family and say, You know, your son told me about this. Would you be willing to come in and teach us how to cook this dish that he says he likes so much? And so bringing their their expertise and their culture to your classroom and try to redevelop the relationship from there? But we really have to be thinking about that from the start. You know that first month, you're right. That's where you're building that relationship and thinking about, how do I contact this parent and how do I involve this parent?  

Lisa Dieker: [00:05:05] Yeah, it's such an important thing. And I think that it's so subtle sometimes that people overlook it. When we're trying to prepare teachers, I don't I don't know that we do a great job all the time of helping helping pre-service teachers understand the importance. And we appreciate that you have experts like you. And I think sometimes you think about the high leverage practices and we think about OK in academic instruction and how do we use them in the classroom. But there's a whole piece of those high leverage practices that apply to the family and collaboration. So we need to think about how do we use the same high leverage practices with our families to build that partnership. And since you mentioned that, can you tell us because that's a good example. What are some of your go to resources if you're if you're in a spot like me and I'm preparing, you know, novice teachers, where is the first place you send them for more information in case they're not getting it in their coursework?  

Dr. Peggy Schafer: [00:06:00] Just elaborate getting information on on on the strategies for working with parents of families. There is a new a new book just came out through, I believe it's there, see, but it's on, you know, culturally sustaining pedagogy. And so really, to start with that, you have to really challenge your own assumptions first. And so how do you it teaches you kind of how to look at the assumptions, how to look at kind of whole families that are different than you think and feel. And then it also helps you figure out how to build that relationship so it's culturally sustaining, sustaining pedagogy. Dr Elizabeth Harkins Monaco is one of the authors and it's my new. I have a I have a copy of it in my to, but it is the book that most people steal from my desk. Love a regular basis.  

Lisa Dieker: [00:06:57] I love it. I love it. So I'm going to ask it again. Kind of the flip side. But now I'm a parent and I can still tell you that if I get an email that has my son's name in it, I just assume it's not positive, which is probably not. It's probably not a good gut reaction. And sorry, Josh, but that is what you know that was the emails were in that direction. But I also think sometimes I had to do my own self check. So I know I'm asking for advice to parents because I'd be like, Well, why aren't they responding? Like, You know this, this is, you know, my rights. And so what's your advice to parents when they feel like they're not getting what they need and they push harder and it's feeling like, what's a better approach, maybe for families? Do you have a suggestion on the flip side, for families to understand, especially a new teacher?  

Dr. Peggy Schafer: [00:07:48] I think that is hard for families. And again, it's understanding things or situations from multiple lenses. I was at an AP meeting once and we were sitting around with, you know, the probably the most difficult child in the school. And all of a sudden, the parent looked at the school psychologist and said, And I am so sick of you rolling your eyes at me. Good for school psychologist. Just kind of look back at her. Her contacts had been stuck in her eye, so she was trying to get a contact out of her. I said, Hi, Larry, and she's like, No, I'm sorry, I'm not rolling my eyes off you, my contacts. I know. But it was that just kind of that initial response to a misunderstanding. And I think many times that's where some of these feelings come from. There's a book for parents on IEP called Guns Blazing, and we need to make sure as parents, we know when to pull out our guns and when figuratively. Yeah, this was definitely not appropriate to say in this time. But, you know, when do we when do we really kind of put, you know? Right? You know, really advocate for the child. I think the number one parent thing parents can do from again from the very start is make sure that those teachers and the people at the school know who your child is, that this is a person. This isn't a paper. This isn't a plan. This is a child who has hopes, dreams and wants and is loved. And so back when I was a teacher, the ways we would have nights where we'd bring families in and they would create a portfolio on their child, and they would bring that to the first IEP meeting and saying, I want you to know my child. Other children would do like a little brochure of themselves, and when they went to the next grade level, the child could give it to the teacher that, you know, this is who I am. This is what I like. This is what I'm good at. So that IEP team can see a whole child versus this plan that we have to implement. Some parents, I think, are even doing videos now, which I mean, you show me a picture or a picture. I did not have time. That was my first.

Rebecca Hines: [00:10:02] I am not saying no to you. You know, that's all there is to it, and I don't do much clinical work anymore. But if a fan family shows me a picture of my Peggy's on their team,

Lisa Dieker: [00:10:12] I love it. Well, you know, it's funny because I always did take a picture, but I got some good advice similar to your book once, said Lisa. Don't bring a fire hose to a water gun fight. I was like, Yeah, that's true. You know, so at one point I had Becky come. I needed a fire hose, but lots of time I would try and squirt gun first. But it really it's hard and I I respect that. That's right. I think it's, you know, that contacted the is a great example. If you don't understand what the other person  

Lisa Dieker: [00:10:36] and I think teachers need to understand really how emotional this is, right, that it is an emotion. This is someone's child you're talking about. And how do we frame that with a strength base versus a deficit base? Love it.  

Lisa Dieker: [00:10:51] Yeah, so well, we appreciate you joining us. It's great to see you, Peggy, and thanks again for all your work and advocacy for children and families.  

Dr. Peggy Schafer: [00:10:59] Thank you so much. I am proud to be a U.S. scholar tonight,.  

Lisa Dieker: [00:11:03] Star John. All right. Well, if you have questions, please send them to us on our Twitter. Access practical, or you can send him to our Facebook app, practical access. Thanks again, Vicky. Thank you.