Return to Headlines

4-22-24 — Educators Learn More about Neurodiversity

April 22, 2024 ~ The learning does not stop for Olathe Public Schools educators. April 19 was a professional development day where teachers and administrators have the opportunity to learn more about their craft: education. Districtwide, staff members started their day off by learning about neurodiversity and neurodiverse learners.

"Neurodiversity is a topic that is becoming more prominent not only in education but in all aspects of life," Director of Professional Learning Jenna Kuder said. "We know that all of our educators have different levels of understanding about the topic of neurodiversity. Since last summer, I, along with our Learning Services team, have been working to develop this session with the intention of building a foundational system-wide understanding of neurodiversity and how it impacts learning."

Neurodiversity is a concept that celebrates the diversity of the human brain and recognizes that neurological differences are a natural part of the human experience. Each of these characteristics brings a unique set of strengths and area of needs, contributing to the rich tapestry of human cognition. Neurodiversity can look like neurotypes such as dyslexia, autism, ADHD and dyspraxia, among others, or variations of cognitive and sensory processing. Understanding their strengths, challenges, and potential overlaps, is crucial for creating a more inclusive environment that celebrates neurodiversity.

"During this learning session, staff will read selected resources and engage in collaborative conversations among all educators - whether they are general education teachers or special education teachers - to build our knowledge together," Executive Director of Special Services Anjanette Tolman said. "We are all at different levels of understanding about the topic of neurodiversity and we believe the structure of the session allows for both a base level knowledge and what strategies we can use in our varying classrooms to create a more inclusive environment for all of our students right now."

Conducting this training at the district level further supports our teachers and staff in educating our neurodiverse learners while maintaining the district's strategic plan goals of high academic expectations and equitable opportunities for all students. The district's goal is for every student to be challenged and supported through the tiers of instruction to achieve a high standard of academic growth and for every student to have their unique needs met by being included, valued, and provided with equitable opportunities.

"We are so thankful for our Learning Services team members who have been engaging in professional learning related to neurodiversity and neurodiverse learners throughout this school year and beyond preparing for this training," Chief Academic Officer Dr. Tim Reves said. "We are very proud to offer this professional development to all of our educators now, but the learning does not stop here."

Neurodiversity will continue to be a topic during professional development opportunities at both the annual summer conference and fall learning symposium, where staff will have an opportunity to continue their learning based on their needs and the needs of their learners. Olathe Public Schools is proud of our nearly 5,000 staff members who continue their learning and make the choice daily to invest in the education of nearly 29,000 unique learners.