I'm going to be honest and say I wasn't entirely thrilled about my experience at Promising Practices. The keynote address was made by Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott. She is the Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health. Her topic was the importance of integrating Public Health and Social Work in Rhode Island. She discussed issues of addiction, STI rates, teen pregnancy and lack of health care availability to some. I think the keynote would have been more interesting if she didn't relate everything back to certain standards. She took more time explaining the standards rather than describing how we can make a difference with these issues.
My first workshop was called Assessing Teacher Confidence and Proficiency with Sexual Health Education Standards: Implications for Professional Development. I was interested in this because it originally said assessing teacher confidence and proficiency. Since I am in the education program, I wanted to learn different ways to become a better teacher and I thought that's what this would be. It wasn't until the day of Promising Practices I found out it had to do with Sexual Health Education. Even at that, I was still interested because I am going for Physical and Health Education so this will be part of my program.
The workshop discussed a study made by one of the professors on campus Dr. Fisher. She sent out a questionnaire to all of the school nurses, physical educators and health educators in Rhode Island schools. Of those that replied, she found many did not feel the met the standards required for sexual education. This was not surprising to me because it is a very uncomfortable subject to teach as well as learn. This reminded me of August and Safe Spaces. I believe in order to have safe spaces, you need to be able to educate and be comfortable discussing such topics. I know Planned Parenthood has been under scrutiny for a while but they do a great deal about education. I found this tool to help educators be more comfortable implementing sexual education in schools.
My second workshop of the day was Youth Action for All Abilities. Kathleen Kuiper is a Rhode Island Parent Information Network resource specialist coordinator at the Rhode Island Department of Health. She brought some students along with her who worked in the programs they discussed. It was great to hear some of their stories but I wish there was more information about them and the programs. The majority of the workshop was dedicated to the history of disabilities. I understand the need to have a background, but it shouldn't have taken up the majority of the workshop. This did however remind me of Kliewer and how important it is to integrate students with special needs into regular classrooms rather than segregate them. I feel this was one of the messages they were trying to send in this workshop through their programs, but should have implemented it a different way.