Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 2023


Neurodivergent (ND) and Emotionally and Behaviorally Disabled (EBD) learners struggle mightily to succeed in traditional school environments. These students are prime examples of the immediate systemic need to continue improving schools to make them more student-centered, i.e., equitable, culturally responsive, inclusive, and differentiated. The researcher is an educator with the Department of Defense Education Activity. The project places the challenges of ND/EBD learners squarely within DODEA’s “Focus Area 1: Strategic Initiative 1.1: Equitable Learning Experiences for All Students” (DODEA 2022b, p. 6). Developing adult capacities to meet the needs of ND/EBD learners will inform more student-centered learning for all. To prompt individuals and the larger educational system to become more student-centered, the researcher posits that DODEA must provide affordable, accessible, and transformative professional learning (PL) to administrators, educators, and staff. The PL should focus on culturally relevant education (CRE),

social-emotional learning (SEL), and neurodiversity. Addressing big-picture values and yearly focus initiatives in a multi-level way (DODEA-wide and down to individual educators) will result in more authentic student-centered learning, increase teacher efficacy, and benefit all community members. Opportunities for increasing engagement with and access to professional learning and suggested resources are shared. Two local examples of PL plans are broken down in the implementation section. Keywords: Neurodiversity, neurodivergence, emotionally and behaviorally disabled, DODEA, diversity, equity, inclusion, differentiation, professional learning, social-emotional learning, student-centered learning