Education students and professors from PC, Bob Jones, Converse, and South Carolina State University joined local teachers and school administrators for the fourth annual Charles Chadwell Special Education Institute to learn how to use improv to help teach students.
“Improvisation is based on theater-based games in which participants perform situations without the use of props, scenery, or costumes,” said Dr. Julia Wilkins, assistant professor of education. “Participants use their imagination to solve problems.”
One improvisation activity that participants had fun with was a game called “Mirror.” Participants stood facing each other in pairs and mirrored one another’s movements. When participants were highly synchronized, even they couldn’t tell who was leading.
“This activity helped players to be highly focused and self-aware,” Wilkins said.
Dr. Katherine McKnight, a noted educator and speaker, led this year’s workshop. Participants engaged in activities, like “Mirror,” throughout the day. After each activity, they discussed how it could be adapted in their classroom to address academic and social-emotional skills.
“It was wonderful to see so many educators eagerly join together to learn new and engaging techniques to implement in the classroom,” said Courtney Berry, a junior early childhood education major.
Berry, along with PC students Ivy Johnson, Sierra Steele, Kaitlyn Brown, and Brittany Dunn, served on this year’s committee for the Charles Chadwell Special Education Institute. They helped organize and host the event.
The Charles Chadwell Endowment at PC enables the college to bring leaders in the field of special education to campus for professional development and workshops. Past speakers have included author Rick Lavoie, an international expert on learning disabilities, and Tim Shanahan, a leader on the National Reading Panel and author of more than 200 publications on literacy.
“Seeing so many people return each year demonstrates the value of this institute in the local education community,” Wilkins said. “People have already started asking about next year’s event.”