Special Education conference focuses on meeting unique needs of every student

HISD Superintendent Richard Carranza addressed more than 300 teachers and support staff members at the district’s fourth-annual Special Ed Conference on Tuesday at Pin Oak Middle School, encouraging them to create an environment where all children can succeed.

“We are at a critical juncture,” Carranza said later, when asked what he hoped the conference would achieve. “Too often, students with disabilities have been marginalized. We say NO, that is not what we are going to do here in HISD. I want all these educators to leave here on fire, to go back to their schools with great strategies and support so they can create incredible learning environments.” 

Teachers who teach students with disabilities, English Language Learners, and students at risk of academic failure are receiving two full days of professional development related to curriculum, instruction, and assessment. The focus is on meeting the unique needs of every student. Attendees have dozens of breakout sessions to choose from, including “Avoiding Burnout as a Special Education Practitioner” by Dr. Barbara Mullen, “Ted Talk: Teach Teachers How to Create Magic” by Deitra Ford-Robinson, and “Let’s Take a Deep Dive! Exploring Autism Under the Iceberg” by K. Kelly-Basile.

Keynote speaker Dr. Barbara R. Blackburn spoke about rigor, expectations, support, and demonstration of learning.

“Rigor means it must be challenging, but if it’s too hard, you are just setting them up for failure,” she said. “But make sure your students know that they are expected to learn at high levels and then support them.”

Chief Academic Officer Grenita Lathan welcomed attendees and promised that they would leave with a wealth of information they can use in the classroom. “We know how much you do for our students, and for that, we thank you.”