Baylor School of Education hosted educators from dozens of school districts for the annual Baylor TAIR (Texas Association for the Improvement of Reading) Regional Conference on Oct. 1 and 2. Almost 900 educators gathered at the Region 12 Education Service Center for three different grade-level based conferences. Attendees shared knowledge and skills with each other while gaining unique insight from a variety of national speakers.
TAIR President Margaret Thomson, senior lecturer in the School of Education, says her favorite part of being involved with this conference has been getting to know educators from all over the region that have the same interests as she does. “Every year you can get new ideas and get re-energized,” Thomson said. “This conference is for educators all across the board, because I think the best teachers keep getting professional development — they keep updating their skills.”
On Monday morning, reading specialist and former teacher Jan Richardson began the primary conference for teachers from grades K-2. “Jan Richardson’s guided reading is being utilized in school districts,” said Barbara Purdum-Cassidy, who has co-directed the TAIR conference for the past five years. “These national literary consultants are the people who are guiding instruction in the classroom.”
The afternoon continued with Gretchen Bernabei and the middle/secondary conference for grades 6-12. Bernabei has been teaching students to write in middle school and high school classrooms for almost 30 years. She is a published author of many books, including her most recent from Heinemann, Crunchtime, which shares strategies to help students perfect their writing process.
On Tuesday, Jennifer Serravallo presented the elementary conference for grades 2-6. Serravallo is a literacy consultant, speaker and author. During this conference, she focused on her book Understanding Texts & Readers, which describes seven areas of comprehension crucial in pairing students with works of literature.
Baylor education student Mason Nantz said that she learned the importance of instructors being open to accept and discuss multiple answers, as long as the students have sound reasoning behind their choice. “Authors write books with multiple themes, and students should be the ones to determine the significance of those themes,” Nantz said.
The Elementary conference also offered breakout sessions of choice based on specific instructional needs. These 12 sessions covered topics including writing practices, communication skills and TEKS instruction.
“The opportunity to be able to come here in Central Texas, close to where they are, and be able to hear these speakers at such a good price is a real benefit,” Purdum-Cassidy said. “The speakers get them charged up — they give them strategies and ideas for things that they can take back to their classroom and use tomorrow.”
For 69 years, TAIR has provided professional development for Texas educators. The TAIR conference offers educators the opportunity to interact with outstanding professionals; become acquainted with current research, methods and materials; and share successful instructional strategies.
—By Andi Risk
ABOUT BAYLOR SCHOOL OF EDUCATION
Founded in 1919, Baylor School of Education ranks among the nation’s top 20 education schools located at private universities. The School’s research portfolio complements its long-standing commitment to excellence in teaching and student mentoring. Baylor’s undergraduate program in teacher education has earned national distinction for innovative partnerships with local schools that provide future teachers deep clinical preparation, while graduate programs culminating in both the Ed.D. and Ph.D. prepare outstanding leaders, teachers and clinicians through an intentional blend of theory and practice.
ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY
Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 16,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.