Jun 21, 2022
Today’s guest is a force. She is a change maker and a passionate advocate who works with the schools in her community to develop programs that facilitate neurodiversity. Hailing from Jamaica, Toni-Ann Millen joins the Diverse Thinking Different Learning Podcast to discuss building trust, normalizing making mistakes, facilitating inclusion and belonging, and creating a safe space. These are the first steps to intervention for kids who learn and think differently.
Toni-Ann and I connected through LinkedIn and moving forward, we plan to work together to bring more awareness and education to parents and educators. Be sure to also listen till the end of the episode as ChildNEXUS has an exciting announcement about doing just that through virtual learning sessions for parents.
[2:39] - Toni-Ann is based in Jamaica and works actively in her community.
[4:07] - It’s important for educators to stay up to date on research and best practices.
[5:32] - Sometimes parents decide to relocate their family to gain access to services for their child. Toni-Ann describes Jamaica’s accessibility.
[7:42] - Awareness in many areas is a problem.
[8:20] - In some schools, there may be 50 students in one classroom with one teacher.
[9:32] - Toni shares common comments from teachers and parents as a result of lack of awareness.
[11:49] - To bring awareness to the abilities of children, Toni has done many things in her community including meeting with the Prime Minister.
[13:14] - The private schools in Jamaica should be replicated and become the norm in rural areas as well.
[15:20] - Parents who can afford private schooling have the advantage. This is not a lot of families which causes larger class sizes in public schools.
[17:09] - It is just one piece to have access to assessments.
[18:23] - In her private practice, Toni-Ann found that when reports were sent to schools, they went into a file and nothing was done with them.
[20:31] - If there are not enough resources to support private school placement for students who are struggling, support should be integrated into all schools.
[21:52] - Toni-Ann is passionate about the term “neurodiversity.”
[22:42] - We need to move from “What do you have?” to “What do you need?”
[24:03] - Toni-Ann knows there is a need in her country and is passionate about working in her community.
[25:24] - EduPhase came out of Toni-Ann’s desire to do more.
[26:36] - EduPhase gives support to parents to find the resources they need.
[28:10] - When students start with EduPhase and Toni-Ann, her first priority is creating a safe environment.
[29:14] - Toni-Ann admits frustration but shares how she controls it.
[31:10] - Toni-Ann makes it a point to normalize making mistakes.
[32:18] - A major concern is when parents think that a child’s behavior or struggle is due to learning loss from the pandemic.
[34:00] - A child without any challenge in learning will catch up, but people may miss the opportunity to help students who need intervention.
[35:55] - Virtual learning groups are available and accessible from anywhere in the world to help educate parents in what can be done at home.
[37:20] - In Jamaica, a disabilities act was very recently written but it takes time to implement change.
[39:07] - Toni-Ann shares her dream for Jamaica regarding neurodiversity.
[40:24] - If a teacher doesn’t feel like a child belongs, the child won’t feel safe.
[41:23] - Toni-Ann shares an experience of a parent who felt hurt and broken when they didn’t feel like they belonged.
[42:46] - Special needs classes are not a bad thing, but it shouldn’t be the first plan.
[43:50] - Dr. Wilson and Toni-Ann will be partnering together.
[44:29] - Dr. Wilson announces Virtual Learning sessions for parents to help increase understanding of learning differences and provide guidance on how to support children at home.
Toni-Ann Millen is currently working with schools in the development of school programs that facilitate neurodiversity in Jamaica. She has a private practice where she provides educational assessments to provide targeted individualized learning programs for students with learning challenges and disabilities who need support in the general classroom. She also has experience working as a Special Educator, Special Education Coordinator, Lecturer in Special Education, and Education Consultant.
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The Diverse Thinking Different Learning podcast is intended for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical or legal advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Additionally, the views and opinions expressed by the host and guests are not considered treatment and do not necessarily reflect those of ChildNEXUS, Inc or the host, Dr. Karen Wilson.