The Teachers College Reading and Writing Project offers workshops and on-site professional development for administrators, teachers and paraprofessionals who work in a variety of contexts and offer varied levels of Special Education services. Workshop teaching offers all students an opportunity to work independently while allowing multiple pathways of student progress toward higher level literacy achievement. Students benefit from direct instruction in one-to-one conferences and in small groups, and also from belonging to a community of learners that works together to pursue deeply significant shared goals. We hold close the belief that for all students, including and especially those labeled with special needs, literacy development is the result of authentic reading and writing in tandem with strategic and targeted instruction. For those reasons, our staff developers work with teachers of inclusive classrooms, push-in and pull-out resource support, and separate self-contained classrooms to differentiate units of study in both reading and writing workshops so that all students can benefit from balanced literacy instruction.
Our staff developers with expertise and credentials in Special Education lead the whole organization’s work with instructional issues that impact children with IEPs, and simultaneously strive to expand their own understanding and knowledge through close work with major leaders in the field of Special Education who work in other departments and centers across the college. In turn, they share with the entire staff the field of education’s latest knowledge on instructional methods for students with learning differences and for students who need further scaffolding. In our work with schools, Project staff help administrators, teachers and paraprofessionals find ways to tailor instruction in general, and the workshop model in particular, to meet the unique challenges and to provide the additional supports needed by students labeled with IEPs. Staff developers know that students with differing needs require differing levels of support. We strive to support schools and teachers in this difficult, yet rewarding, work.
Some of our professional development for teachers who work with students with special needs addresses topics such as: how to guarantee that students with IEPs are fully engaged in workshops; ways to use technology to differentiate instruction and the products students create; how to make the best use of teachers’ instructional time – especially when there are several teachers in one classroom; and how to gradually remove scaffolds to encourage student independence and growth. In addition to school-based staff development, the TCRWP offers one day workshops devoted to the needs of students with IEPs. Click here for a full list of workshops on students with IEPs.