Ramapo Hosts Teaching Conference

Ramapo College hosted the New Jersey Council for Exceptional Children 2013 Conference from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. This conference, entitled “Assessment and You!” was sponsored by the NJCEC, Ramapo’s Teacher Education Program and the School of Social Science and Human Services. This is the second year that the NJCEC conference has been held at Ramapo.

Dr. Julie Good, a professor at Ramapo, served as the conference chair this year and was responsible for organizing the conference, advertising and choosing the keynote speaker, among other duties. Dr. Anne Degroot, Dr. Michael Bitz, student volunteers and other committee members also played key roles in planning the conference.

“The goal for the conference is to provide professional development with new strategies, theories and resources to anyone who works with children with special needs. Ideally we provide information about pressing issues in special and gifted education,” Good said. “Sessions are appropriate for special educators, general educators, child study team members – including administrators, psychologists, social workers, learning disabilities teacher consultants, speech therapists, guidance counselors, occupational and physical therapists – and parents.”

The conference began in Friends Hall with introductions and announcements. Barry Schwartz, the Awards Chair for NJCEC, announced the winners of scholarships given to New Jersey high school students: Michael Almonte, Joshua Friedman, Sean McQuown, Soniya Reddy and Emma Herschman. Eileen Croker McCann from Glen School in Ridgewood won the 2013 NJCEC Teacher of the Year Award, and Wafiyyah Muhammad was the runner-up for Teacher of the Year.

Roberta L. Wohle, a professor at Farleigh Dickenson University’s School of Education, was awarded the 2013 Daniel Ringelheim Award and also served as the keynote speaker.

Wohle’s keynote address was “Linking Assessment and Instruction: Implications for the Common Core State Standards” and discussed how to improve student engagement and access to education.

“Access means active student engagement,” Wohle said during her presentation. “If we do not have students actively participating, they do not have access.”
Wohle also discussed the importance of teachers not always relying on what they have done in the past and the necessity of trying new things to engage students in the classroom. Wohle based her analysis on the common core standards defined by the state.

“Every minute is going to count because the standards are harder now than before,” Wohle said. “I have analyzed these standards, and I am going to advise you, teachers, that you know the standards for your grade level inside and out.”

The presentation focused on applying the standards to help students with disabilities gain the essential skills needed to be successful. It also discussed stages of learning.

“The NJCEC conference was a great experience,” recent Ramapo graduate Megan Stamer said. “It focuses on teaching students with disabilities, and really, the information given could be applied to any student.”

Following the presentation, those who attended the conference went into various breakout sessions and workshops that covered topics such as technology, teaching students with different disabilities and best practices for assessing students.

“One of my favorite sessions was about how easy it can be to differentiate instruction for students in the class,” Stamer said. “I also enjoyed learning from Dave Marra from Apple. He showed me some neat things on my iPad that I did not know existed.”

About 250 people attended the conference.

For more information and resources, check out the NJCEC website.