Conference season is upon us and our i2e Professional Learning Specialists have been out in force attending, presenting and bringing back valuable insights to share with the rest of our team. We didn’t want to keep these highlights and insights all to ourselves, so we’re excited to share them all with you in a multi-part blog series. Up first, is the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) Convention & Expo in Indianapolis, Indiana!

Beth Dudycha, i2e Senior Manager, Content Development

“I had the pleasure of attending the CEC conference this year and I loved meeting so many educators who are on the cutting edge of best practices in the special education world. This group has a heart for those kids who might be excluded from the regular education setting, social setting, playground or are just plain tough for another teacher. These teachers see the exceptional within those kids that might be an exception to the norm.

When this organization of teachers heard about some of Microsoft’s hiring practices, they immediately thought of some of their former students. Microsoft has taken great strides to be inclusive in hiring people of all abilities, possibly even some of these teachers’ former students who’ve now grown up and are ready to enter the workforce. Microsoft aims to lead other companies in this practice, not because it’s the right thing to do, but because they truly value diversity of thought. Dictation, the Immersive Reader, Translator and so many other tools have been built specifically to help all people have the access they need to communicate and learn in ways that suit their needs.

At this year’s conference, CEC gave a special award to Microsoft: “In recognition of an unwavering commitment to a diverse workforce and an inclusive culture.” All week, attendees stopped by to thank us and see what was new. Microsoft Word, in particular, inspired grins as people realized that students can dictate and hear their writing read aloud with technology they already own. A lot of special education students utilize different apps for speech to text, often at an additional expense, so this feature in Word was a welcome addition for them.

One of the best takeaways from this conference was a hashtag movement called #iteachbecause. The movement aims to remind educators why they teach and ensure all administrators, legislators, parents and students understand why teachers are teaching. Why do YOU teach? Join the movement and post to #iteachbecause.”

Lauren Pittman, i2e Professional Learning Specialist

“If you’ve never been before, the Council for Exceptional Children is a conference that you should add to your list. This conference is a celebration of the individuality that makes each of us unique. The experience at CEC is unlike any other that you will have. Among those in attendance are researchers, teachers and those devoted to the field of exceptional education. As part of this conference, Beth Dudycha and I had the wonderful privilege of rubbing shoulders with some wonderful educators. My favorite happenstance was with two educators from Texas, who were the owner and principal of a school for dyslexia. They stopped by the booth to ask us some questions about their Microsoft account and walked away with excitement and astonishment. We spent some time showing them the Immersive Reader, Office Lens and Translator. The looks on their faces and the comments they gave is why I love doing this job. As teachers, we are committed to giving our students the best possible chance we can provide. When that passion is combined with the passion of a company that wants to uplift all, the combination is magical. Beth and I got a taste of this magic and I have to say, I can’t wait to go back to CEC next year.”

Learn more about the Council for Exceptional Children.

Stay tuned for our next Conference Clips post, which will feature highlights and insights from the Future of Educational Technology Conference (FETC).