Dec 1, 2020

This #GivingTuesday, Meet Nicole

This #GivingTuesday, we want to put a spotlight on Nicole Biscotti, a proud educator and parent. Nicole and her family live in Phoenix, Arizona, and enjoy barbecues and road trips to Mexico. While Nicole has been a teacher for six years, it was her nine-year-old son, Jason, who taught her everything about ADHD.

Before Jason was identified as a different learner, Nicole had no idea what was going on with his behavior. He was visibly frustrated, acted out, and was disruptive in the classroom. When she understood that Jason had ADHD, everything changed. She started to look at his behavior completely differently.

Nicole shared, “In the U.S., we’ve moved towards an inclusion model, where general-education teachers like myself, are teaching kids with learning differences. But we were never trained on that. I have two master’s degrees in education, and I have never read one chapter in any book about ADHD — that has never been taught to me. Everything I’ve learned is because of Jason.”

But as an educator, Nicole realized that just because she understood her son Jason’s unique way of learning, didn’t mean that she understood how each of her students learned and what they needed in the classroom.

Nicole believes that everyone should have access to a quality education that connects them with their purpose. Her unique position has allowed her to see both personally and professionally how children struggle to be understood and how adults are often at a loss with how to handle the difficult behaviors associated with learning and attention issues.

“I’ve seen my son be hurt deeply by experiences that he’s had; I’ve seen how frustrated he is. I’ve seen his self-esteem take several hits. We just have to continue to create more awareness and more support for these students,” Nicole told us.

When asked about her teaching experience prior to COVID-19, Nicole said: “There is a lot of ignorance in education about learning differences. I don’t ever want to knock teachers, because we work hard. But there’s simply a lack of information — a lack of education for teachers, about learning differences. And a lot of teachers still really do not understand that kids have legitimate conditions and that there is something that is different about them and the way that they think.”

Since COVID-19 shut in-person schools down in March, it’s been much harder for Nicole to connect to her students. “In March, I knew my kids, and then we went online. Now I’m meeting my kids online – it’s a whole different dynamic.”

A lot of kids are having to work a lot harder because they don’t have the in-person support of a teacher to notice that they need a little bit more time for an assignment, or maybe to help them simplify and organize larger projects or assignments. These students were struggling before, and now they’re struggling alone behind a computer screen.

Most kids don’t have a teacher like Nicole who intimately understands and cares about students who learn differently. How can students survive, let alone thrive in a classroom when their teachers don’t understand them or their unique needs?

We’ve been listening to educators like Nicole and understood that educators needed our support. This fall, we released a new program extension to address this need. Eye to Eye’s Learning Differently 101 for Educators: Building Empathy for All Learners, helps educators understand students who learn differently, even if they don’t themselves have a child like Jason in their lives. This #GivingTuesday, can we raise $5,000 towards the support of these critical training efforts for educators?

Make your donation here today.

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