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Sarah’s Story: Teachers are our most precious resources. An interview with an LDA Teacher Scholarship Recipient

Our children with specific learning disabilities comprise approximately 20% of our nation’s school population. Help your child’s teacher know more about the variety of needs of a child struggling with specific learning disabilities.

How can we give them the skills they need to provide an even better environment within which our children can learn?

• Inform your child’s teacher that the Learning Disabilities Association of America is there to help them find a better and more efficient way to teach.

• Let your teacher know that there is an Annual International Conference each February that provides a rich learning environment for all teachers, the 53rd Annual International LDA Conference will be held Feb. 15-18, 2016 in Orlando Florida.

• Talk to your school about sending a teacher to LDA for valuable in-service training on strategies that work with student with specific learning disabilities.

• Gather your local LDA members to sponsor a teacher to the LDA Conference.

• Encourage a teacher to apply for a Teacher Scholarship to the LDA Conference. More information on the LDA website, www.ldaamerica.org.

What are the benefits of your child’s teacher from going to the International Learning Disabilities Association Conference?

Don’t take our word for it, read our interview with Sarah Teach, a 2014 teacher scholarship recipient………..

I am a regular education classroom teacher at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School and I teach Math to a variety of students with disabilities. I have been an educator for 20 years and have taught in Georgia, Alabama, and Virginia.

Currently, my students come from the housing projects in Richmond and I am constantly trying to find new, better and more innovative ways to teach my middle school students who do not always have learning as a priority. I found out about the national Learning Disabilities Association from my mother-in-law, an active retired special education teacher. One weekend while we were together, she told me about their upcoming conference in Anaheim CA, and encouraged me to apply for a teacher scholarship. We discussed the questions asked and the following week I approached my principal about leave time and the other support I would need should I get the scholarship. To my great surprise, I was selected to receive the scholarship and attend the conference and my principal gave me the time off!

In what parts of the conference did you participate?
Upon arrival in Anaheim I registered and began to meet the other teachers who were scholarship recipients. I found that I was the only General Education teacher in the scholarship pool and did not meet any other regular education teachers during my time there. After I began to discover how much the conference had to offer, I was so surprised that regular teachers did not know about this awesome resource. I became excited about learning about the new math concepts presented during the breakout sessions. I would spend my lunchtime going back to my room and emailing my team the ideas and slides about what I had just learned. They became excited about what I sent them and looked forward to my twice a day memos. We all benefited from each session I attended.

What were the highlights of attending the LDA conference?
To me the highlights were learning strategies and activities that I could use in all my classes regardless of ability level, whether or not they had a significant label. These strategies were solid and very helpful. I also learned that this was a wonderful opportunity to speak directly with knowledgeable professionals that are willing to help and share their expertise so willingly. This was a great personal plus for me.

Were you able to visit the exhibit hall and was it beneficial?
I also found perusing the exhibit hall was an opportunity to see all the technology and materials demonstrated as well as talk to administrators from the many special schools available throughout the nation. I felt that what I learned was exciting and hopeful giving me some tools in my toolbox that could make a difference in my instruction of Special Education students, and many more.

Were you able to use what you learned when you got back to your classroom?
When I returned home, I continued to share what I had learned, both with my own field team and with the other teachers during our grade level and departmental meetings. I picked up materials and information for teachers in other content areas as well as my own, anticipating what they might be interested in discovering. I showed them how to use those materials and most of them used all or some part of what I showed them. I hope that LDA will create strands in future conferences that are geared to the General Education teacher who need to learn to adapt to today’s inclusion students as well.

Would you recommend other teachers apply for the Teacher’s Scholarship?
My recommendation is that every to teacher who has the opportunity should take advantage of all the great sessions at the National LDA Conference. You don’t have to be a special educator to gain knowledge from the LDA conference. Many of my students have undiagnosed problems and may not qualify for Special Education services. With inclusion, teachers get to deal with all styles of learners and may not have adequate resources to provide the best education possible.

My message to parents and educators is that you have to experience this wonderful LDA Conference for yourself. You will meet some wonderful people and come away with ideas and options to really help your children.

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