Teachers’ Voices Season 3 Episode 7

Join educational researcher Nina Alonso for this podcast series as she shares powerful stories from teachers around the world, talking in their own words about their own experiences.

What is neurodiversity? How does it differ from neurodevelopmental disorders? How can schools make sure all children feel like they belong?

In this episode, Nina meets Alyssa Alcorn, lead researcher for the Learning About Neurodiversity at School (LEANS) project at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. Alyssa explains that neurodiversity concerns everyone, because everyone has a brain. Neurodiversity is a biological fact. “We are all different in how we think and feel and learn because our brains process information differently”, she says.

“Neurodivergence is not about having a diagnosis, it means that you’re different from the majority in terms of your processing.”

Alyssa Alcorn, University of Edinburgh

Nina also speaks to Silvana Gili, a primary school teacher in Brazil. Silvana teaches 6- and 7-year-olds in an international school. Silvana explains that the classroom is organised according to students’ different needs, and tells Nina about their work on diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. “We as a school believe that students can only learn if they feel like they belong to that learning community”, she says.

Educator Chesta Dhingra tells Nina about inclusive education at her school in India. They have a tool for following the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL), creating accessible learning environments for all learners. Chesta explains that they also have an individual educational plan for each child based on their needs.

Nina hears from Inés Bertoni from Argentina, who describes the challenge of providing the assistance kids need when resources and time are limited and classes are big. Not all schools have adequate resources.

Alyssa rounds off the episode with some useful tips for supporting all children in the classroom. Are there supports available for some children in the class with special arrangement? If so, could these be available to everyone, so that anyone can benefit – even those who might never think to ask?

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Listen out for

  • Catering for all children with difficulties, not just those with a diagnosis.
  • Grouping children in such a way that they learn from each other.
  • Improving knowledge and attitudes in the whole school community.

Find out more on BOLD

Our changing understanding of neurodivergence – Sue Fletcher-Watson discusses what’s changed in research and diagnosis.

Overcoming barriers to supporting individuals in the classroom – Kathryn Bates and Jane Exell discuss how practitioners might overcome barriers to supporting children with and without neurodevelopmental disorders in the classroom.

How specific are developmental disorders? Annie Brookman-Byrne looks into the complexity of developmental disorders. 

Guests and resources

Alyssa Alcorn – LinkedIn, Twitter/X
Learning About Neurodiversity at School (LEANS)

Silvana Gili
Graded – The American School of São PauloLinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter/X

Chesta Dhingra – LinkedIn, Twitter/X
Lancers International SchoolInstagram, Facebook, Twitter/X
Universal design for learning (UDL) and inclusive practices in IB World Schools

Inés Bertoni – LinkedIn, Instagram

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