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Activists Kunc and Van der Klift speak at PD Day

Posted on Nov 16, 2018

"When it comes to adaptations, I have learned that you need to be specific and ask the actual person who needs the actual adaptation." - Emma Van der Klift

Thank you to advocates Emma Van der Klift and Norman Kunc, who delivered a fantastic presentation to our Teachers and School-Based Support Staff today on Acceptance, Inclusion and Belonging in the classroom. 

The day-long Professional Development event took place at École St. John Paul II School and covered two topics: New students, new questions, supporting the classroom teacher in an inclusive school, and Collaborative Approaches to behavioral support. 

Medicine Hat Catholic would like to thank our keynote speakers for the fantastic presentations today. 


Speaker Biographies (Source)

Although Norman Kunc and Emma Van der Klift are well-known speakers and advocates within the disability rights community, they prefer to think of themselves as modern-day storytellers, continuing the long-held tradition of using humour and narrative to initiate self-reflection and social change. 

Norman and Emma travel extensively throughout North America and abroad providing in-service and training in the areas of inclusive education, employment equity, conflict resolution, and other disability rights issues. Norman and Emma have a book, several journal articles, and three book chapters to their credit.

"Emma Van der Klift is a neurodivergent speaker, author, and activist. Recently diagnosed as Autistic, she has embraced the diagnosis with a sense of relief, recognition, and confirmation ... Emma holds a Master's degree in Conflict Analysis and Management from Royal Roads University and was certified as a mediator and negotiator through the Justice Institute in Vancouver."

Norman Kunc - "Born with cerebral palsy, Norman attended a segregated school for children with physical disabilities; then, at the age 13, he was integrated into a regular school. From there, he went on to complete a Bachelor's degree in Humanities and a Master of Science degree in Family Therapy.

In his undergraduate years, Norman wrote a book about his experiences of going to a regular school. This book catapulted him into a career as a speaker, writer, scholar and advocate."


Today's Sessions

New Students, New Questions, Supporting the Classroom Teacher in an inclusive School – As an increasing number of students with disabilities are being included into regular classes, there is growing consensus among teachers about what supports need to be in place for inclusion to be manageable and successful. Based on personal experience and the input of classroom teachers throughout North America, Emma Van der Klift and Norman Kunc examine five areas of support which need to be present if teachers are to welcome students with disabilities into their classrooms. This session also addresses the question of fair and appropriate evaluation and briefly describes some ideas for supporting students with atypical or disruptive behaviour.

Collaborative Approaches to Behavioral Support - Responding to students we most commonly label as non-compliant, disruptive, or resistant can be frustrating, so it is understandable that teachers look for swift and efficient techniques to resolve the situations that arise. However, the majority of the current behavioral support programs locate the problem in the student and work from a “narrative of correction.” This perspective can inadvertently implant an “identity of inadequacy” and may make a difficult situation even worse. Drawing on the divergent fields of hostage negotiation and narrative therapy, Emma Van der Klift, and Norman Kunc explore alternative ways of perceiving “difficult behavior.” They will show how adopting alternative narratives that take into account the interactive nature of the educational relationship can help to normalize these situations and open up more opportunities to build upon the student’s existing resilience and foster more collaborative and helpful ways of interacting with the student.