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Reflecting on REEL's Transformative Workshops for Educators

Updated: 6 days ago

As the Educator Awareness Program Manager at REEL, I have had the privilege of witnessing firsthand the profound impact our workshops have on educators and, by extension, their students. Our recent sessions in the broader regions of the San Francisco Bay Area have not only enlightened but also inspired teachers to approach the unique needs of twice-exceptional (2e) students with renewed empathy and understanding.


One memorable experience unfolded a few weeks ago, where we facilitated a learning differences simulation at a private high school in the San Francisco peninsula. This session allowed educators to momentarily experience the sensory and cognitive challenges faced by students with conditions like dyslexia, ADHD, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, or sensory processing issues. Though it was just a simulation and not the real experience, I could tell it provoked surprising emotions for many. Witnessing the educators' reactions, their renewed empathy, frustrations, and then their realizations of what it may feel like to struggle with learning differences despite being bright, underscored the everyday realities our 2e students navigate. 


A particularly moving aspect of these sessions was the student panel. 2e students shared their personal experiences, struggles, and needs with their educators. It was incredibly powerful to see the impact of open, trusting, and caring teacher-student relationships. These moments are a vivid reminder of why we do what we do—facilitating connections that foster safer, more supportive learning environments.


The journey continued at a public school a little further South, where the learning simulation was accompanied by a virtual workshop based on our REEL DEAR model. This model is a framework we are immensely proud of, guiding educators through four critical considerations in supporting 2e children: Develop Connection, Embrace Flexibility, Attend to Strengths, and Reframe Behavior. The workshop not only equipped educators with tools and strategies but also deepened their understanding of how to apply these in real classroom settings.


What was particularly remarkable was the engagement and involvement of parents, especially at the South Bay event. It added another layer of community support. Their active participation brought our initiatives directly into their school's culture, helping to create a more inclusive educational framework for all students involved. A parent recently shared with us: “It was an exceptional, eye opening class that was extremely helpful in teaching me how to better support 2e kids…..I hope REEL will be hosting more training at my child's school in the years to come.” 


Throughout these workshops, the feedback from educators has been overwhelmingly positive and insightful. One teacher shared with us, “The workshop inspired me to show more grace and be more aware of the fact that sometimes disruption or inattentive behaviors may be less about what the student is choosing to do and more about what they’re experiencing in that moment due to neurodivergence.” This reflection captures the essence of the shift we aim to create: a deeper understanding that leads to more compassionate educational practices.


My role allows me to see the ripple effects of our work, from the immediate reactions in our workshops to the long-term changes in classrooms across these regions. Each interaction, each shared story, each strategy discussed adds up to a significant transformation in how education is delivered to 2e students. We are not just informing educators; we are equipping them to make a real difference.


As we plan future workshops and expand our reach, I am continually motivated by the feedback and outcomes we observe. The journey of educating about and advocating for 2e students is ongoing and evolving. For my colleagues and me at REEL, each workshop is another step forward in our mission to ensure that every student receives the understanding and support they need to thrive.


For educators interested in joining this transformative journey, engaging with REEL’s resources and workshops is an opportunity to be part of a movement towards a more equitable and responsive educational system. Together, we can make a difference—one educator, one student, one classroom at a time.


 

To learn more about our workshops and our DEAR REEL model, visit our educator page or email Vera directly at: vera@reel2e.org



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