The Edge

Neurodiverse Students and Inclusive Learning Environments

May 18, 2023 ISTE Season 2 Episode 2
Neurodiverse Students and Inclusive Learning Environments
The Edge
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The Edge
Neurodiverse Students and Inclusive Learning Environments
May 18, 2023 Season 2 Episode 2

Description: In this episode, we talk with ISTE Community Leader Laurel Aguilar-Kirchhoff and her guest, Dr. Matthew Harrison, about neurodiverse students and how to design learning environments that foster a sense of belonging. Dr. Harrison also shares his work with students who use Minecraft as an inclusive space.

Show Notes Transcript

Description: In this episode, we talk with ISTE Community Leader Laurel Aguilar-Kirchhoff and her guest, Dr. Matthew Harrison, about neurodiverse students and how to design learning environments that foster a sense of belonging. Dr. Harrison also shares his work with students who use Minecraft as an inclusive space.

Dr. Matthew Harrison: [00:00:00] When I first started teaching, a lot of times we expected children to leave our identity at the door when they came into school. And the gaming was a taboo topic. It was not to be discussed in school. It wasn't relevant to their curriculum or what they're learning, and I think there's been this wonderful change.

Dr. Matthew Harrison: And people are starting to ex accept that there is a place for these discussions and there's a place for building from these strengths and interests in our school. And I think this is so exciting. The world is, is becoming a better place. I, I see young kids today. I'm excited for the future.

Georgie Terlaje: It is Time for the Edge, A podcast from ISTE community leader. If you are an educator, administrator, or anyone in the field of education, this is a podcast for you. Over the next few episodes, you will hear stories of people who are doing the [00:01:00] rewarding and at times hard work in education, and these stories will be brought to you by ID community leaders.

Georgie Terlaje: Today we've got some great guests on the show who will discuss Neurodiverse students and creating spaces that are inclusive. I'm one of your community leader hosts, Georgia Chila. I'm a TK five instructional coach, an educator of 34 years, and I'm here with my favorite partner 

Laurel Aguilar-Kirchhoff: in crime. Jessica Pack 

Jessica Pack: was Faith.

Jessica Pack: Thank you, Georgia. I'm Jessica Hack. I'm a middle school teacher and an ISTY author, and I am so excited for today's episode. Because we are going to deep dive with some special guests about Neurodiverse students and creating a sense of belonging in 

Dr. Matthew Harrison: schools

Jessica Pack: Today we're joined by our fellow Isti community leader, Laurel Aguilar. Koff. Who is an isti author, university professor and education [00:02:00] consultant. Laurel, thanks so much for being here 

Laurel Aguilar-Kirchhoff: today. I'm so excited to be here with you all and this is, um, a subject that is near and dear to my heart. So I'm so excited to see that our, um, the edge is highlighting what we can do to make inclusive spaces for our students.

Laurel Aguilar-Kirchhoff: So thanks for having me. Laurel, 

Jessica Pack: you have brought an incredible guest to the table this week for us to connect with. Would you like to introduce him to our listeners? 

Laurel Aguilar-Kirchhoff: I would love to. Dr. Matthew Harrison is an experienced teacher, researcher, and digital creator with a keen passion for utilizing technology to enhance social capacity, building, belonging, and inclusion and education.

Laurel Aguilar-Kirchhoff: He is taught in Australia, South Korea, and the United Kingdom. At the primary, secondary, and tertiary levels, so lots of experience there. Matthew is currently coordinating [00:03:00] autism intervention with the Master of Learning Intervention and is the co-director of Student Experience at the University of Melbourne Graduate School of Education.

Laurel Aguilar-Kirchhoff: His research primarily focuses on neurodiversity. Inclusive education and the effective use of digital technologies as teaching and learning tools and as a gamer, he has a particular interest in digital based, uh, games based learning and interventions. Matthew's PhD thesis examine how cooperative video games can be used as spaces for developing social capabilities for students with disabilities and neurological differences.

Laurel Aguilar-Kirchhoff: Building from this innovative research, she co-founded the Social Enterprise Next Level collaboration, an inclusive community for neuro divergent children that uses cooperative video games to build confidence and social capabilities. Matthew also proudly serves as the Vice President of Digital Learning and Teaching Victoria [00:04:00] an ISTI affiliate organization on his home state of Victoria.

Laurel Aguilar-Kirchhoff: So, With all of that said, we are so excited to have Matthew with this, and I'm so excited to know him, so welcome. Welcome. Welcome to the Edge, 

Georgie Terlaje: Dr. Harrison. We're so glad to 

Laurel Aguilar-Kirchhoff: have you here. 

Dr. Matthew Harrison: I'm so excited to be here. Thank you for having me. I'm a huge fan of SD and I think the Edge is such a wonderful podcast, so it's just such a, a absolute joy to be here.

Dr. Matthew Harrison: What 

Laurel Aguilar-Kirchhoff: I think you definitely 

Georgie Terlaje: hit the definition of educators on the edge with all of the things that you've been doing, so we're super happy to get to talk with you today. Before we get started, Laurel, could you share a little bit about how you and Dr. Harrison connected, like what's your origin story?

Laurel Aguilar-Kirchhoff: Well, it it's a, it's a funny story. Well, as you heard, Dr. Harrison is from Australia. He does a lot of work all over the world, and we just happen to be. At the same place at the same time in Fresno, California, [00:05:00] which was just kind of kismet. We were both at the NACA Clinic and eSports recruiting event. Um, presenting.

Laurel Aguilar-Kirchhoff: I was presenting on all sorts of different things, starting an eSports program. But in specific, my specialty is student data privacy, and Dr. Harrison was going to give the opening keynote address for the second day, and I heard him speak and I was just blown away by everything that he's doing to help students.

Laurel Aguilar-Kirchhoff: So afterward, I introduced myself and we just started talking and I. Immediately thought of the Edge podcast and how we can get Dr. Harrison's work out there. So more and more, I know this is a hot topic right now for Estee and for all of our wonderful educators out there, how can we make more inclusive spaces?

Laurel Aguilar-Kirchhoff: And so I was just so thrilled to meet Dr. Harrison. And you know, basically just say how, how can we 

Dr. Matthew Harrison: showcase your work? I think it's just one of those really nice stories where, You just get talking to other [00:06:00] passionate educators or allied health professionals and he starts seeing all these organic connections between your work and someone else's work, and you go, you know what?

Dr. Matthew Harrison: We can do something really cool together. This would be really cool here. Collaborate here or collaborate this, and all these different ideas sort of come to the fore. I think that's some of the great things about being an educator is you do find there's other people with the same passions and interests.

Dr. Matthew Harrison: And you made me look at things slightly differently and you can learn from each other, which is so cool. And that was my experience of NACA meeting Lucy. It was so great. 

Laurel Aguilar-Kirchhoff: Uh, it was, it was really an awesome experience and I am so glad that we were able to start connecting on that. 

Jessica Pack: Dr. Harrison, how did you get into research?

Jessica Pack: What could have led you in that direction? And maybe for our listeners who aren't as familiar with the term, what does it mean to be neurodiverse? 

Dr. Matthew Harrison: Yeah, so just to answer the first part of the question, I'm an accidental researcher in that I was a teacher and I had a [00:07:00] group of students who were absolute rock stars.

Dr. Matthew Harrison: I loved working with them. But they struggled with unstructured play, unstructured play at lunch times. And so I started a gaming group and I noticed they could do things in this gaming group that couldn't seem to be able to do independently at lunch times when they're playing football or, uh, playing other games outside.

Dr. Matthew Harrison: And I began, I became really curious, like, how could I learn more about this? How could I learn how I could optimize what I was doing in my gaming group? To better meet the needs of all students. And that's when I took on the decision to do complete a master's of education. And that's when I found out about the world of research and how the people who had their jobs is actually studying this.

Dr. Matthew Harrison: And to develop interventions and support programs that help kids and how you can use interest in strength-based programs to help kids to, to be able to. To be effective [00:08:00] social citizens, and that really got me excited about the world of research. Just go through that master's process. Then going through my doctoral studies, just to answer the second part of the question around what we mean by neuro divergence.

Dr. Matthew Harrison: When neurodiversity, neurodiversity is a recognition that our brains work in different ways and that the way that our brains are wired effectively. Uh, are diverse at, at, you know, neurologically different. This is shifting from a deficit based model where we used to think of autism as a series of deficits, so something's wrong.

Dr. Matthew Harrison: We've shifted away from that, so we don't see. Autism or A D H D dyslexia, is there something wrong? It's just differences. And this model of neurodiversity actually comes from Judy Singer, who's originally Australian in front of our proudest dark claims to fame. And a lot of researchers have since moved the ball forward in terms of how we understand neuro divergence.

Dr. Matthew Harrison: That's people whose [00:09:00] brains work differently from the majority of the neurotypical brain. So it's really a shift in how we look at. Difference. That's really what we mean by neurodiversity. 

Laurel Aguilar-Kirchhoff: So how so with that in mind, 

Georgie Terlaje: and how do we create the conditions for a 

Laurel Aguilar-Kirchhoff: socially inclusive education? 

Dr. Matthew Harrison: That's a very good question, Georgia.

Dr. Matthew Harrison: It's a long shift and it's a structural shift. It's a cultural shift, and it's. A journey that's gonna take a long time, but I'm really excited because we've made so much progress in the last 10 years alone. I think it starts at the grassroots teacher level, and it's a mindset shift First, it's really thinking.

Dr. Matthew Harrison: About focusing on what our students can do. What are their interests? What are their strengths? This is not just for kids who are neurodivergent like kids who with a d h, adhd, or kids who are autistic. I think it's for all students, really. What does [00:10:00] my student bring? What are their strengths? What are their interests?

Dr. Matthew Harrison: And how can I address civic areas of challenge or need by building on these strengths and interests? And I think that's the key to. All forms of inclusion is really looking at the positive and starting with that. 

Laurel Aguilar-Kirchhoff: And if I can jump in there, Dr. Harrison has written a book that I have just, I have loved, I'm actually new to eSports and thinking about gaming in education.

Laurel Aguilar-Kirchhoff: I think there's a lot of people that are kind of the, the same. Ben is me. I, it's only been within the last five years that I've really embraced it. I didn't really understand it before and I think there's a lot of people out there with like that. But Dr. Harrison wrote this book. It's using video games to level up collaboration for students, but the, when I was reading the book, one of the things that stood out to me, Matt, was.

Laurel Aguilar-Kirchhoff: It was later on in the book, uh, the 15 target skills that you, that you mentioned in the book, and those are things that are good for all kids. And thinking [00:11:00] about encouraging participation in group activities, supporting students to consider others' perspectives, recognizing when to give instructions, then share information.

Laurel Aguilar-Kirchhoff: And these social skills are skills that all of our students need. And I think what you do in your book is really great because you break it down into some very simple ways that teachers can use this and look at it in their own practice and say, uh, in a reflective piece, where am I really explicitly teaching my students on how to en engage in socialization?

Laurel Aguilar-Kirchhoff: And then what can I do to tweak my own practice to support it? And so I think that there was a lot in here that goes beyond just using gaming for socialization. That's really some great ways that we as educational practitioners can really think about our own practice. I know this has come up a lot.

Laurel Aguilar-Kirchhoff: With the students that I work with in the teaching programs and, and how do we actually work with our students on socialization so it's not just a plug for your [00:12:00] book. I really found it to be very, very helpful. 

Dr. Matthew Harrison: That's very kind of you 

Georgie Terlaje: and, and I think post covid. We have seen, you know, in school just 

Laurel Aguilar-Kirchhoff: how much students need this there.

Laurel Aguilar-Kirchhoff: There was some aspects of socialization lost in being 

Georgie Terlaje: gone and away from people for a while. So I think that just makes it even that 

Laurel Aguilar-Kirchhoff: much more important. 

Dr. Matthew Harrison: So I know in my home state of Victoria, Australia, The rates of school refusal have doubled since returning to Covid. So the number of students who can't go to school because of mental wellbeing conditions, and a lot of those students experience really extreme social anxiety.

Dr. Matthew Harrison: So when we talk about creating the conditions, it's about creating the environment and culture where those students feel safe to come back to school. That social environment. But also to upskill those students to sort of help [00:13:00] them build those leadership and resilience skills that they can navigate Some, you know, particularly look at middle school or or high school years, which can be tough.

Dr. Matthew Harrison: I think everyone acknowledges that middle school and high school can be socially complex and not always fun. I think all the listeners will probably understand that as well. 

Laurel Aguilar-Kirchhoff: Well, I think there, the other part that stood out to me, because a lot of this, while it's thinking about, you know, using video games, but in your book you talk a lot about defining roles within a team.

Laurel Aguilar-Kirchhoff: And like Georgia was saying, a lot of this our students either if they're very young, they just weren't, they, they missed maybe kindergarten, first grade, those foundational years. And then for our students that are older, as they're developing in their own social emotional aspects and going through all sorts of different.

Laurel Aguilar-Kirchhoff: Fun changes and coming back to school really explicitly teaching these, these skills. And I like the vocabulary that you used for defining roles within a team. The guardian, the shield, the glue. It's [00:14:00] so much different. It it, it's a different take on setting up teams and ways that students can understand, but also brings that lightheartedness back into learning.

Laurel Aguilar-Kirchhoff: I think the structure and teaching the structure, we can look at it in a different way. Than maybe we have in the past. And our students are going to be receptive to learning these skills in different ways. I mean, they've gone through a lot of trauma in the last few years, and then the teachers as well, and everyone is getting back into a space where we know we want the learning to happen.

Laurel Aguilar-Kirchhoff: How do we get our students there? And the learning is happening on that social emotional level as well as the academic level. 

Dr. Matthew Harrison: So when we designed the program, one of the things that I think, and I didn't necessarily, and this is probably coming from a place of ignorance, understand how important this was when I was doing the doctoral research that informed the program we developed for teachers and for school [00:15:00] leaders, was that we had the students as key participants in the design research project.

Dr. Matthew Harrison: So a lot of, I learned so much from working with my students. Most of, most of them were, um, autistic, and it was learning through them what they really valued and understanding. And I've learned this, this has been reinforced to me over and over again by working with autistic colleagues and friends, is teaching skills that are important for everyone.

Dr. Matthew Harrison: But teaching 'em in a way that allows people the flexibility to be themselves, and that's really important. So what skills actually really matter in our so social context, we focused on collaborative skills. I think every student needs to be able to collaborate and to be able to work, talk with others towards a common goal.

Dr. Matthew Harrison: And so teachers often ask me, well, what actual, what are the discreet skills? And Lucy, you were talking about that, the idea [00:16:00] of. Checking for understanding that someone you're speaking with has understood what you've said, showing that you are listening to someone and that you've processed what they said.

Dr. Matthew Harrison: Asking for help. Everyone needs to be able to ask for help, but there's different ways we can perform these skills that are comfortable for me, that still communicate the central message. It's really this double empathy problem that I understand you and you understand me cognitively and emotionally, and I think that's something that teachers.

Dr. Matthew Harrison: I've been really crying out for this, saying like, I'd love to teach more social emotional literacy, but I'd love to do it in a way that doesn't make my students uncomfortable. So that's really, we choses gaming as that space because it is such a place of strength and interest for the students. They have the oral language around it.

Dr. Matthew Harrison: They have some understanding of the social norms of these gaming communities. Let's build from that. Let's use those strengths and interests and then we can have a conversation about why is important check for understanding in other facets of your life. Why is it important to [00:17:00] check for understanding in other classes?

Dr. Matthew Harrison: Or outside of school in your, your community based activities, when is it okay to ask for help? And how can you do that in different ways, in different contexts? So I think it's something that we have found that teachers have found particularly helpful was that student voice. 

Jessica Pack: I love that you're talking about helping students learn to advocate for themselves, because A, as a middle school teacher, I think you're right on point that that is one of the areas where kids struggle is just being able to say, Hey, I, I don't understand this.

Jessica Pack: I need help. And maybe it's a social problem that they're having, and it seems kind of like the more. Closer we get to like secondary, the less we start dealing with the social aspect of our kiddos. So I think that sense of belonging that comes from that is super important. So how can gaming be used as like a classroom tool to engage kids in that [00:18:00] social fabric of the classroom itself as kind of like its own little environment?

Jessica Pack: What can teachers do that would integrate that in an 

Dr. Matthew Harrison: effective way? So we focus and as a, I guess there's the academic learning side and there's some really great researchers, and I know you've had some of them on the The Edge podcast before who look at, so like digital dance based learning. And you know, in my own country, Dr.

Dr. Matthew Harrison: Bro Stuckey does great work around the academic learning. I know the Minecraft program, the, the Education edition has a whole lot of lessons around academic, discreet. Areas of learning, areas around knowledge and skills that developing chemistry, knowledge and skills through Minecraft and developing an understanding of physics through Minecraft.

Dr. Matthew Harrison: I really focus on those, that social collaborative learning, which is actually part of the curriculum in my state. We actually have a, uh, collaboration dimension learning area, uh, within our curriculum, uh, our social and interpersonal [00:19:00] capability, and that. For me is something really exciting. So we want to be able to teach that through a structured and systematic program, and that's really important to make sure that teachers understand what their students are ready to learn.

Dr. Matthew Harrison: Where to next and to understand how to teach it in a way that's consistent with the science of learning. So we know how students learn. Most students learn best in most conditions. I always say that nothing works for all the kids all the time, but we do have a general understanding of cognitive science we can draw on for this.

Dr. Matthew Harrison: So we use a three stage system. We use stage A, which is the explicit skill instruction. So we will do something called video modeling and video review to teach our focus skills, and that is the idea. A bit like watching a game tape after a football match. We actually record the kids while they're playing.

Dr. Matthew Harrison: We'll play it back to them the next week, and we [00:20:00] show them little snippets of video footage where they're performing the skills in different ways. We get them to talk to that and to explain why they performed that skill at that point of need and how that helped the rest of their team. And help other players see how they could use these target skills.

Dr. Matthew Harrison: We talk about things like asking for help, offering help, checking for understanding. They can see the language, they can see the steps being performed, and it's very visible and it's in a game-based context. So it's kind of interesting to these players. Then we look at how you can, then we actually have the, the coaching during play.

Dr. Matthew Harrison: And the coaching during play is I just call it the meat in the sandwich, even though I'm a vegetarian. So maybe it's the tofu in the, I should say, it's the idea that this is the most of the session where the kids are playing for about 10 minutes. Then we stop and have a timeout, and it's a strategy huddle.

Dr. Matthew Harrison: We'll talk about which skills they've used, why they've used those skills, and what goals I wanna set for the next 10 minutes of play. [00:21:00] And so it's these 10 minutes on two to three minutes of reflection, 10 minutes on two to three minutes of reflection. And when they're playing, we coach them at the point of need.

Dr. Matthew Harrison: And the reason for that is we know the research says that a lot of kids can tell you to the cows, come home a definition. They can explain a definition of negotiation, but it's recognizing the point where negotiation would be helpful. And how to, uh, to be able to emotionally regulate themselves, to be able to calm down and perform those skills at the point of need is the real trick.

Dr. Matthew Harrison: And that's where games are brilliant because games can create the conditions where they have to use these skills. And then we can actually help them practice using their skills at the point of need as coaches. Then at the end, our stage C, so we've had our skill instruction, our coaching during play.

Dr. Matthew Harrison: Then we have stage C, which is our guided reflection, and that's, that's where we talk about, [00:22:00] okay, which skills did you use? Which skills did you not use, and how would you take these skills beyond the game? Where, where other contexts of your life and we can set some goals for the next week. And when they set the goals next week, that's how we sort of pick out the video footage from that week when we're editing the video footage to show them back next week the gang tape for the following week.

Dr. Matthew Harrison: That's how we sort of decide what are we gonna focus on next? Where are we going along in this sort of learning journey? So I hope that sort of gives teachers an overview how they could use it. Within their classroom. We use it a lot in smaller groups, but you could do this as a whole class level for sure.

Laurel Aguilar-Kirchhoff: I, I love the reflection piece. Uh, 

Georgie Terlaje: Jessica and I are super passionate. We do a lot of movie making in the classroom, but we always talk about the reflection and you know it very much u d L, but we have to specifically teach reflection because that just doesn't come naturally. What a great way to do it with looking at their gaming and chopping it up that way.

Georgie Terlaje: Something they love to do. But actually, you know, infusing [00:23:00] that sort of cognitive journey of, oh wait, I could get better at something if I actually thought about it a little bit and, you know, make a goal for myself next time. So I think that's brilliant. 

Laurel Aguilar-Kirchhoff: I think that's where a lot of times there's some misunderstanding about eSports because people think, oh, they're just getting together and they're playing video games.

Laurel Aguilar-Kirchhoff: But when you think about it in this context, and again, I don't know that there's necessarily anything wrong with the kids getting together and playing video games. If that serves a population of students that maybe encourages them to attend school or. There's some kind of of them playing those, just even making those connections to school maybe that they wouldn't have normally made.

Laurel Aguilar-Kirchhoff: So that aside, but when you add in the reflection, you add in the goal setting, you add in the social emotional learning, I. It's very evident that eSports can be so much more than quote unquote just video games. There's a lot to it that with the coaching and with the teacher's [00:24:00] participation can really help these students flourish in areas that maybe they wouldn't have those connections.

Laurel Aguilar-Kirchhoff: And see things in a way that they're already connected to the video games. So how can we use that as an entry point into a broader social emotional space that then can be, hopefully our goal is always to transfer that right into other spaces of their life. So I think that's an area where eSports really has so many possibilities and gaming can really be looked at as a tool for these students.

Laurel Aguilar-Kirchhoff: So I wanted to 

Georgie Terlaje: ask Dr. Harrison for teachers listening that maybe want to get started in their classroom doing something to be more socially inclusive and maybe they don't have a big eSports program in their district. What, what are some actionable steps they could take next week to actually start some of these things and maybe be change agents in their 

Dr. Matthew Harrison: district?

Dr. Matthew Harrison: Oh, absolutely. I think people see eSports and think, wow, I've gotta have 24 [00:25:00] high-end gaming PCs straight away if I haven't got a, you know, a hundred inch screen showing, you know, all the action. That's not an eSports program. I started with an Nintendo, we, and using cooperative games. So the idea or games of where players have to work together to be able to finish.

Dr. Matthew Harrison: And we used an old C r T screen that someone had donated to the school, and this is showing my age now and Nintendo, we and New Super Mario Brothers. And it was through that that I really saw that this is really a space of high potential. You don't have to use the latest and greatest hardware in games to get started.

Dr. Matthew Harrison: There is definitely benefits to using, uh, a range of consults, and I still, even though I have access to PS five s and switches and gaming PCs, I will still bring in my Super Nintendo from time to time. With my groups that I run and it's really like, you know, throwback Thursdays. Uh, they really [00:26:00] love that too.

Dr. Matthew Harrison: I think the retro gaming scene is huge. New games that are using retro aesthetics, uh, uh, you know, has been revolutionized by STEAM and the online mobile app stores. So there's this idea that we only have to use AAA titles and you know, gamers or our players won't be excited by anything less than, you know, the latest graphics cards.

Dr. Matthew Harrison: It's a bit of a fallacy. I think it's probably, you know, it's probably a medium myth if we're really being honest, that gaming has to be always high end all the time. And so I think if you're looking for competitive eSports and you're looking for a way to do something that's really accessible, An Nintendo Switch with Super Smash Brothers.

Dr. Matthew Harrison: The smash scene is big scene. It's age appropriate. It's not Grand Theft auto. You're not getting blood and guts everywhere. Uh, so it's really easy to sell to principles because they see the cover and they see Kirby and Mario and they go, okay, this is, you know, this is a PG [00:27:00] 13 game. This is something that's appropriate for, you know, middle or high school, even upper elementary.

Dr. Matthew Harrison: And we can use this as a starting point and we can have training and we can start off as a, just a once a week lunchtime club. It, it should cost you no more than $500. But I know a lot of teachers who bring their own switches in and they're all bring their own controllers in and that's all you need.

Dr. Matthew Harrison: And they'll hook it up to their interactive whiteboard in their classroom. 

Laurel Aguilar-Kirchhoff: When I was starting our eSports program in our county, one of the things I told the teachers, I was like, you know what? You don't need, like Matt said, you don't need to start this huge thing. Just providing a space where the students can get together.

Laurel Aguilar-Kirchhoff: But I would also encourage teachers that are looking to get started with eSports or gaming clubs or things like that, is to talk to the students. Setting those ground rules together, looking at digital citizenship standards, um, letting them control what's going to be acc [00:28:00] accept that student voice that Dr.

Laurel Aguilar-Kirchhoff: Harrison talked about earlier is so incredibly important. And I know I already said this, but really in his book, he has it outlined. Literally what you can do in the classroom if you're doing gamified learning in your classroom for those cooperative skills. I think about in my own class, I also taught middle school for 20 years, and I loved doing gamification with my students.

Laurel Aguilar-Kirchhoff: I don't know that I always did the best job with teaching them how to collaborate within those s gamified spheres in the classroom. So looking at your own practice where you are gamifying learning and building in those collaborative skills is something I think you can do in the classroom. But setting it up as a club.

Laurel Aguilar-Kirchhoff: I know probably seven or eight years ago we had a teacher on our campus, he just opened it up after school and said, Hey, if you've got a switch, come on in. If you, whatever you have. If you wanna play, you know, you can come and join. But they really talked together on how they were going to set up that collaboration.[00:29:00] 

Laurel Aguilar-Kirchhoff: And then they built in that reflection piece that Dr. Harrison mentioned also in Georgia that you were talking about. That's so incredibly important on. What went well? What could we do better next time? How can we communicate and work together as a team and how can we support each other in this journey?

Laurel Aguilar-Kirchhoff: And those, just having the space and having those conversations for some of our students, that's a launching off point that they just never had at school before. 

Dr. Matthew Harrison: I wish I went to your middle school, Lucy. That sounds a lot of fun. 

Laurel Aguilar-Kirchhoff: We had a really great school. I I love my school and the teachers that were very passionate.

Laurel Aguilar-Kirchhoff: Our tagline was, do what's best for kids. And Annette's something that I've always believed in and taken with me. So big shout out to Ramirez. 

Jessica Pack: Well, thank you so much, Laurel and Dr. Harrison for joining us here on the Edge today. Do you have any final thoughts you'd like to share before we 

Laurel Aguilar-Kirchhoff: let you go? 

Dr. Matthew Harrison: I just think we've made this, we've all made this [00:30:00] point about the importance of listening to our students and when we talk about neurodiversity, it's this broader idea of just accepting our children at base value and just really what wanting them to feel safe to be themselves.

Dr. Matthew Harrison: And for a lot of the kids that I work with. Yes, they are autistic or they have adhd, but they're proud gamers. And when I first started teaching, a lot of times we expected children just to leave identity at the door when they came into school. And the gaming was a taboo topic. It was not to be discussed in school.

Dr. Matthew Harrison: It wasn't relevant to their curriculum or what they're learning. And I think there's been this wonderful change and people are starting to ex accept that there is a place for these discussions. And there's a place for building from these strengths and interests within our school. And I think this is so exciting.

Dr. Matthew Harrison: The world is, is becoming a better place. I, I see young kids today. I'm excited for the future 

Laurel Aguilar-Kirchhoff: and I just wanna thank Jessica Georgia for [00:31:00] having us on the edge. This has been a great experience and thank you, Dr. Harrison, for being so kind and generous with your time with me and with everything that you have to share with our students to make learning, but also the world a more inclusive place.

Laurel Aguilar-Kirchhoff: So, I, I'm just so excited to have these conversations and I'm grateful for this space to, to share it with everyone. 

Dr. Matthew Harrison: Well, thank you for having me, Terrance. It's really excellent.

Dr. Matthew Harrison: While 

Jessica Pack: that wraps up this episode of the Edge podcast, we hope you had a great time, listeners. My name is Jessica, and you can find me at PAC Woman 2 0 8 on Twitter and 

Georgie Terlaje: Instagram. And I'm Georgia, and you can find me at Georgia turla on Twitter. On behalf of everyone at IDs the Edge Podcast, remember to keep exploring your passion, creativity, and taking risks, all things that can bring you to the 

Dr. Matthew Harrison: edge.[00:32:00]