Hearing from students and families can be tremendously enriching experiences for teachers—they hear how valuable their work is and student success stories. For seven years, CEC Convention & Expo attendees have had the opportunity to attend the Exceptional Lives, Exceptional Stories panel session.
In 2011, the Educators with Disabilities Caucus transformed a discussion about the rich knowledge that families and individuals with disabilities possess and how essential these voices are for providing quality services into the Exceptional Lives, Exceptional Stories panel session. The stories shared during the session depict the true daily ups and downs at home, in school, and in the community. The panelists openly share the emotional challenges associated with life with a disability as well as the gifts often overlooked in schools. They talk about how they learn best and what they want educators to know.
The session is led by facilitators who lead discussions surrounding life with a disability and panelists answer structured questions as well as questions from the audience. “The Exceptional Lives, Exceptional Stories is always the highlight of my convention experience. It is a time where I get to learn from the students with disabilities and their families,” said Jennifer Diliberto, session host. In closing the panel discussion, the facilitators summarize insights gained from the discussions and reserve time for informal conversations with the panelists. Attendees walk away with new insights for working with individuals with disabilities and their families.