Revising the Myth of Normal: Creating a Sustainable Secondary Academic Curriculum Predicated on Learning Diversity

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Kaplan, Sara M
neurodiversity; curriculum development; Disability and Equity in Education; Special Education and Teaching; Teacher Education and Professional Development
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In recent years, a paradigm of neurodiversity has emerged in secondary schooling that functions as a framework to meet the needs of all types of learners. Accordingly, as our understanding of students who learn differently shifts, we must consider and evaluate pedagogical overhauls that aim to meet the needs of all learners. This synthesis details my experience as a young, fairly inexperienced administrator who has entered into a newworkplace environment and devised a curricular framework with the intention of supporting students with learning differences to become constructive and reflective agents of their own learning. In this narrative, the reader will learn and understand the process that I undertook as I worked to form an academic program that best enabled seventy-two adolescent students to find success in a post-secondary setting. The model that I describe within this synthesis combines traditional academic classes in core competencies, classes focused on social-emotional wellness and social pragmatics, a series of workshops focused on instilling “21st-Century” skills, and two types of assessments: narrative evaluations and grids that monitor metacognition and critical thinking. Ultimately, I argue that this reproducible model embraces cognitive diversity through inclusion, and seeks to instill the skills necessary to supporting perceived cognitive “weaknesses” as it actively works to optimize student strengths by focusing on empathy and innovation.