OCALI NOW | Issue 24 • January 2021

Be InspirED in the New Year:
Free Professional Learning Opportunities to Support Successful Engagement of Diverse Learnings in Remote Learning Environments

The second half of the 2020-2021 school year is officially underway and many Ohio school districts continue to remain in remote learning environments. While remote learning isn’t new for most, there are still things to learn about how to improve access for all learners, strengthen student engagement, and more.

In September 2020, OCALI, in partnership with the Ohio Department of Education, launched the InspirED Virtual Learning Series. The vision for this virtual learning series has been to fill a need and help educators, administrators, and families find the information and resources they need to support learning and successful outcomes for their students or children during a very unique time of learning.

The learning series consists of Zoomcast sessions or recorded, facilitated conversations that are approximately 30 minutes each. All content is focused on increasing successful engagement of diverse learners in a remote/virtual instructional environment, linking the users with appropriate resources and tools. Topics range from using accessible educational materials (AEM) to developing a growth mindset to planning for learners who are deaf or hard of hearing, supporting multicultural families of children with disabilities, supporting PBIS in virtual environments, and more. What participants have had to say:

“I enjoyed these short, focused presentations and can easily share them with staff.”

“I thought this was nicely organized. I enjoyed receiving information from various professionals, rather than just hearing one opinion.”

“This was very informational, even as an instructional assistant. I can have a better outlook now on how to help the children in the areas they need help in.”

“Great video series. Looking forward to seeing more.”

Did you miss a session or want to go back re-watch or check out other sessions?
Check out the InspirED Video Gallery. Here, learners can access all previously aired sessions, which include interactive transcripts, audio description, and session materials. This gallery is also a great resource to share with colleagues and others who may benefit from the information.

Need professional development hours?
Learners have the opportunity to earn a professional development certificate by completing a survey at the end of each session. Did we mention that this is a FREE way to get professional development hours?

What’s coming up?

Check out these upcoming sessions for January and February:

  • January 21: Online Instruction Based on Communication Mode
  • January 28: Why Checklists, Especially Now When the World is Up-Side Down
  • February 4: Maximizing Accessibility and Learning with Slide Presentations
  • February 11: Ready, Set, Action! Simple Strategies to Support Learning, Build Connections, and Offer Balance in an Ever-Changing World
  • February 18: Surviving the Pandemic with PBIS
  • February 25: Coming soon

The BEST Version of YOU in the New Year: Everyday Tips to Promote Self-Care

Unpredictability, flexibility, and uncertainty have all been part of our personal and professional lives since the pandemic hit last spring. With all of these changes to our daily lives, routines, and activities, maintaining a balanced life and taking care of yourself, while taking care of others in your care, might continue to seem out-of-reach. And trust us, you’re certainly not alone. However, being at YOUR best is important for you and those in your care. This means giving attention to your mental, emotional, and physical well-being. As we head into the New Year, let’s look at four simple tips that anyone can use and do every day to promote better self-care.

1. Hydrate

This may sound easy and familiar, but it still might be a challenge to do daily. Drinking plenty of water regulates the body, prevents fatigue, and promotes clear thinking. And, with all that many of us are juggling right now, having better concentration and focus are definitely needed. The common belief is that you should drink 8 to 10 glasses of water daily. Easier said than done, right? If you struggle with drinking water during your day, here are a few things to consider. Find a fun, reusable water bottle. Add natural flavor, such as sliced lemons, oranges or cucumbers. Use a tracking app or create your own tracking sheet. No matter what approach you try, adequate water intake is essential to your well-being.

2. Music Matters

For those days when you are feeling exhausted, anxious or overwhelmed, consider tuning out the world and turning up some music. Research confirms that music can be effective for relaxation and stress management. Listening to upbeat music can make you feel more positive about life, while a slower tempo can offer a more soothing, relaxing option to release daily stress. Consider creating a self-care playlist with a variety of songs – a few upbeat, a couple slower-paced, and, of course, don’t forget a few of your favorites, especially those you love to sing-along with!

3. Breathe

When moments of stress and anxiety start to build, introducing breathing techniques can help balance your energy, refocus your thoughts, and provide relaxation. There are a few different breathing practices to explore. Here one simple one that uses a shape to guide you. Start by imagining a square. Each step in this breathing practice is a corner of the square. As you count to four with each step, move from one corner to the next. Start at the top left corner and inhale for the count of four, then hold for the count of four, and exhale for the count of four and hold for the count of four. Repeat these steps a few times to calm your mind and body. Want to try a few other breathing techniques, check out the breathing cards in the Autism Center’s Resource Gallery.

4. Recognize Your Feelings

It’s important to recognize your feelings and to know that those feelings are ok. Go easy on yourself. When you hear that discouraging voice in your head or things just break down – send positive vibes to yourself – I believe in you! You got this! You are beautiful! Also, take a moment to focus on the positives – the little things that brought a smile to your face each day – maybe it was making your child laugh, capturing the attention of a student who has been struggling with remote learning, or successfully launching your first Zoom meeting. Create a weekly positive vibes journal, jot down one thing each day. At the end of the week take a minute to reflect and celebrate these moments!

This content is also available in video format in a previously aired episode of #HereToHelp.

What’s New at OCALI

The Journey Webinar Series: 2021 Dates
To support County Boards of Developmental Disabilities in helping youth with complex needs and their families navigate the journey to from school to adult life, the Lifespan Transitions Center at OCALI has created a free webinar series, called The Journey, designed to support topics, such as:

  • Creating structure,
  • Improving self-determination,
  • Planning for transition, and
  • Supporting literacy. 

Visit the archive of previously aired webinars and register for upcoming sessions.

Learning Media Assessment (LMA): An Introduction
A Free Webinar: January 27, 1-2 p.m.
As educators continue to navigate this pandemic, particularly in remote learning environments, understanding students’ individualized needs is an important component of the learning process. For students who are blind or visually impaired, it is even more important to understand how they receive information for learning. This introductory, one-hour webinar is designed to teach the basics of a learning media assessment, why it matters, the process, and resources to support teachers of students with visual impairments (TVIs), families, administrators, related service providers, and general educators. Learn more and register: https://deafandblindoutreach.org/meetings-events.

Ask Abbey: Developing Literacy Skills for Learners Who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing
A Free, Interactive Learning Series: February 3, 10, & 17, 4 p.m.
This interactive, three-part learning series is designed to provide practical, easy-to-use strategies to increase auditory skills, visual language skills, and reading and writing print for learners who are deaf or hard of hearing. Each 30-minute session will include a 10-minute webinar with simple tips and strategies, followed by 20 minutes of live Q&A with Abbey Weaver, an itinerant teacher for the deaf and hard of hearing in Ohio. The sessions are free, but registration is required. A certificate of completion is available after completing the series. Join us for one or all three. Learn more at https://deafandblindoutreach.org/meetings-events.

New Adult Domains Added to SIFTS
The AT&AEM Center at OCALI recently launched a series of SIFTS specifically for adults in need of assistive technology (AT). SIFTS is a web-based tool designed to guide AT decision-making teams in matching a person’s needs with AT features. From children to adults, SIFTS can be used by parents, students, consumers, and professionals serving people with disabilities. Explore SIFTS and check out our first adult domains around Communication and Physical Access surveys at https://sifts.ocali.org/. Watch for more adults SIFTS to come.

Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council Seeks Public Comment on 2022-2026 Five Year State Plan
The Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council (Ohio DD Council) is seeking public comment on its Five-Year State Plan that will take effect from 2022-2026. Review and provide your feedback on the Five Year Plan here: https://ddc.ohio.gov/state-plan-comments.

Resources from Our Partner, Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities (DODD)