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More than 500 Educators Attend Baylor TAIR Conference [10/29/2015]



Former middle school teacher turned teacher educator Kylene Beers was a TAIR speaker for 2015.

Baylor School of Education hosted more than 500 educators from 45 districts or schools at the annual Baylor TAIR (Texas Association for the Improvement of Reading) Conference Oct. 19-20. The two-day event offered three different conference strands for different educational levels — preK-first grade, grades 2-6, and grades 4-12.

Baylor School of Education senior lecturer Margaret Thomson, president of TAIR, said TAIR’s eight regional conferences are popular with educators because they are partnerships with the participating schools and districts. Baylor’s is the largest of the regional conferences.

“We plan based on feedback that we receive about what educators need,” Thomson said. “They also let us know about good speakers in their own districts, and those people are often invited to lead break-out sessions.”

The Baylor conference had three nationally known speakers as headliners this year. Matt Glover spoke about providing young (preK-first grade) readers with a “nudge” — rather than a push — to develop their writing ability. He explained how teachers can recognize the elements of writing even in the youngest efforts at book making.

Tanya Clark, an ESL teacher at South Bosque Elementary in Midway ISD, said she appreciated Glover’s advice to take the child where the child is. “He explained how pre-school writing can actually tell a story through pictures, and that was big,” she said. “Sometimes we push conventional literacy development when children are not ready. So we should nudge, rather than push — let the child show you what they are capable of and then nudge to the next step.”

Kylene Beers, author of When Kids Can’t Read / What Teachers Can Do and other books, presented the 4-12 conference. She taught before-, during-, and after-reading strategies, inspiring educators with a message of literacy as power. “You can’t improve competence without first improving confidence,” she said.


Baylor pre-service teachers were among the 500 attendees at the two-day TAIR conference, held at Baylor’s Paul L. Foster Campus for Business and Innovation, new home of the Hankamer School of Business.

Jennifer Ganza of Anderson-Shiro CISD said she was surprised at Beers’ research showing that both teachers and students often misunderstand basic literary genres. “It’s really important that students know genres deeply,” she said. “The difference between fiction and nonfiction is more than just ‘true’ and ‘not true.’ Both teachers and students misunderstand this, and that was a surprise to me.”

On Tuesday, Tanny McGregor spent the morning on comprehension for grades 2-6. She said that students need to learn to make meaning of what they read. “We have to slow down and encourage kids to do their own thinking,” she said.

Tuesday afternoon included 16 different break-out session topics taught by classroom teachers, Baylor School of Education faculty, and Baylor School of Education graduate students.

TAIR’s goal is to provide literacy educators with the opportunity to interact with outstanding professionals; to become acquainted with current research, methods, and materials; and share successful instructional strategies. The first TAIR conference was held in the fall of 1949.

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