Throughout the history of the Teacher in Residence Program all of the international professionals have made a significant impact on the education of children with special needs in their home countries. Through their efforts, the methodologies and intervention strategies practiced at The Bridge School have been widely disseminated. Their influence has crossed international borders; helped mold legislation regarding the education and care of people with disabilities; built schools to educate children and other professionals; enhanced college and university curricula; provided direct therapy and educational services to thousands of children, adults and their families; and in doing so have forever changed the lives of those they serve!
When the Teacher in Residence returns to their home country, there are many ways to disseminate what they have learned during their stay at The Bridge School. Those include, but are not limited to, the following:
Usually the first people to benefit from the Teacher in Residence’s experiences are the professionals in the school or program in which they worked prior to coming to The Bridge School. The Teacher in Residence can provide professional development opportunities for their colleagues, engage parents and caregivers in discussions and demonstrations of the strategies they have found successful for the students, and work collaboratively with the administrators to systematically address areas where change may be beneficial to the collective group.
Carefully designed workshops are another avenue Teachers in Residence have used to disseminate what they have learned. These are more successful if they are designed to be interactive and take into consideration the available resources and support required for implementing the strategies that are being introduced.
Often, it is helpful for professionals to observe the Teacher in Residence actually implementing the strategy or methodology being introduced with students from their school. This gives them the opportunity to better understand the concept, see the theory/research findings in action, ask questions of the Teacher in Residence and experience the success of the students.
Many successful campaigns designed to initiate change have their origins in a grassroots movement. Changing traditions, challenging established ideas and introducing a different philosophy, approach and methodology is more effective if the Teacher in Residence develops a support base from professionals who are interested in or open to working towards changing their way of thinking and their way of teaching. One way of growing this support is by offering to present at every opportunity to professionals in outside agencies and organizations.
Once the Teacher in Residence has established him/herself as a local resource, frequently they have been called upon to consult with other schools and programs serving children and adults with special needs. The focus and format of these consultations vary from situation to situation. Cisco, Inc. has provided WebEx accounts for every Teacher in Residence which gives them more flexibility in terms of timing, scheduling and delivering consultative services.
The Teacher in Residence brings a unique set of experiences and expertise to most situations in their home country and developing a professional relationship with colleges and universities is an effective way to disseminate what they have learned to a large number of pre-service professionals. Several of the Teachers in Residence are now university faculty and are instrumental in preparing graduate and undergraduate students to work with individuals who have complex communication needs.
Several of our former Teachers in Residence successfully submitted manuscripts for publication in professional journals, contributed a chapter(s) to textbooks, written articles for commercial publications and/or helped to draft legislation regarding the education and care of students with disabilities.
The right to an education and communication is not a given in some of the countries the Teacher in Residence program serves. Advocating for equal rights and equal access to education and health care is a part of the dissemination efforts for some of the Teachers in Residence. Some former Teachers in Residence have been instrumental in getting national legislation passed that addresses these issues.