Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Presenting at Parent Education Seminars

This year I changed jobs and it was one of the best decisions I've ever made. One of the perks has been my ability to expand my career horizons. As a teacher, it's very easy to see your life as A) being a classroom teacher forever or B) becoming an administrator of some sort. This job has helped me see that I have more options than that.

One such option I've been able to experience has been parent education seminars. I know this may not sound thrilling, but when my whole world involves talking to 7 year old students in special education, my world can feel quite small sometimes. Yes, I have a life after work, but 8+ hours a day feels like my whole world some days. These seminars allowed me to use a whole other portion of my brain. After so many years of education experience, I take for granted how much I know and understand about children, reading acquisition, special education, and the reasons for why kids learn certain ways.

My first seminar I was a small piece of a larger simulation. I loved every minute of it and would gladly do it every year. It had such an impact on the parents that I was simply in awe of how effective the seminar was for simulating the world of a child with dyslexia. Realistically it simulated almost all learning disabilities and the classroom challenges associated with it. You can read my full review and reaction to the experience HERE at A Special Sparkle.

My second seminar was "Does my child have a reading problem?" which was to help parents identify signs that their child may have more than a typical struggle with reading. This was my first seminar where I was the main presenter along with a coworker who did it with me. I was beyond nervous, but it went quite well! We had little quizzes to get parents thinking and even a paragraph written by a child with dyslexia that they had to "edit" and figure out what it said. The story got the parents thinking and gave a great example for me to present the ways children with dyslexia make errors in their writing and the reasons behind it. There were moments where they asked questions and I instantly had the answers, which made me feel good about all the things I have come to learn over the course of my career as a teacher.

There was one moment that caught me completely off guard and caused the room to go silent for a moment. One set of parents was Hispanic and raised their hand to ask a question. They struggled to find the words and ended up asking in Spanish out of desperation as they tried to think of the right words in English. Starting my career in Arizona, there were countless conferences I conducted in broken Spanish. When the parents asked the question, I repeated it in English and then spouted out the answer in Spanish without even thinking! They wanted to know if kids with Dyslexia had a harder time learning to read if they spoke 2 languages. After I answered that they may take longer, but of course they could learn, I had to giggle and explain to the rest of the group what just happened when I burst into another language without warning!

I have a whole set of slides to share about reading disabilities, but I need to tweak them before I can share them with you. Right now they have boring backgrounds and lack visuals on some of the slides. The marketing team wanted the focus to be on the 2 of us talking rather than the slides. I need to make it more visually appealing before I show all of you! More to come!!

Have you ever presented or attended parent education seminars? What was the topic?
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