EASE West 2014 Kicks Off First PD Workshop With LAUSD Inclusion Setting Teachers

February 14, 2014

On Thursday, EASE Program Manager Sita Frederick, and Teaching Artists Matt Bogdanow and Vanessa Ramirez facilitated an EASE West full day professional development workshop at Grand View Boulevard Elementary School for a lively group of educators from the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). Contracted by the VSA/John F Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, we are continuing a partnership with the LAUSD Division of Special Education and the Arts Education Office to provide training and coaching for arts specialists and partnering teachers in the EASE methodology in order to improve multi-disciplinary arts-integrated instruction and collaboration in inclusive classroom settings. This year, we are excited to welcome a third partner, arts organization PS Arts, whose arts instructors work with teams of inclusion teachers at Grand View Elementary.

An impressive turnout of 51 educators attended the workshop including special and general education teachers, occupational therapists, physical therapists, speech therapists, program specialists, arts instructors, adapted physical education teachers, district administrators, a vice principal and a principal!

Sita kicked it off with a presentation of the EASE program in New York City and a slide show of highlights from the first EASE West initiative from spring 2013. We then guided them through some of our most popular EASE activities, including Go & Stop, Pass The Object, Masking Tape Murals, Freezedance, and Floor Maps. Facilitating student leadership is one of the principles of the EASE approach. Participants were given opportunities to lead activities, allowing them to immerse themselves in the EASE methodology and experiment with newly acquired activities for their classrooms. The participants’ performance embodied the spirit of creative community building: participants showed off their brainstormed arts-based lesson ideas and danced together during their compositions (we witnessed at least one professional-grade moonwalk).

“Do you have a webinar of this PD? We need this training for all teachers at my school!” exclaimed one participant. EASE activities are providing a vital entry point for our teachers, administrators, and greater school community in Los Angeles to collaboratively plan how to engage each and every style of learner. As education policy continues to address issues surrounding inclusive education, the momentum is quickly building in these classrooms. Yet, our partners were quick to clarify that their commitment to inclusive education is far deeper than compliance with legal requirements, because it is based in a core value of creating more inclusive school communities toward a more empathetic society wherein each individual has the opportunity and support to reach their potential.

– Matt Bogdanow, Sita Frederick, Vanessa Ramirez