Regional Communities of Learning
Regions will receive technical assistance through the development and facilitation of Communities of Learning in Autism (CoLAs). Communities of Learning provide communities the opportunity to share information and experiences. This allows members to learn from each other, and have an opportunity to develop personally and professionally.
What happens in a CoLA?
- Members share a common interest in the improvement of service delivery and use of evidence based practice for students with ASD.
- Members create a strong community that fosters trust and encourages collaboration and sharing.
- Members develop a core of knowledge through skill development, problem solving, information and resource acquisition, and skill integration using both collaborative and self-directed learning activities.
VCU-ACE will develop and facilitate Communities of Learning in Autism within each Superintendent's Region. A VCU-ACE Technical Assistance Associate will work with regional representatives from the VA Department of Education (VDOE) TTAC's and school division based leaders within each region to build such learning communities. Communities of Learning will be tailored to the needs of the region based upon the areas targeted for growth by the members of the group. The members of the Communities of Learning will be comprised of the region's leaders in service delivery for students with autism. This includes autism specialists, instructional specialists, master teachers and individuals in administrative or quasi-administrative roles who provide in-division consultation and support to teachers with caseloads and/or classrooms.
Calling all school divisions! If you are interested in learning more about the Community of Learning in Autism (CoLA) in your region, please determine your region below and contact the Technical Assistance Associate listed.
Find Your Region
Option 1: Click on the portion of the map below that contains your city or county to receive information about your VDOE region.
Option 2: Choose your city or county from the following dropdown list. Then click the link that appears for information about your region.
CoLA 2012 Summer Institute a Huge Success!
VCU-ACE and the VDOE TTAC's hosted a Communities of Learning in Autism (CoLA) Institute in Richmond on June 20-22, 2012. Over 120 autism specialists and school division autism leaders participated in this educational and networking event. On Wednesday afternoon, attendees welcomed Dr. Tony Gentry as the keynote speaker. Dr. Gentry updated the audience on his research in using handheld computers as cognitive and communication aides for individuals with autism. Following the keynote, participants were invited to visit facilitated technology stations on six different topics, including communication, data collection, transition to work, ABA and learning, and social skills. Dr. Gentry hosted a station on "Platforms and Choices" giving attendees the opportunity to ask questions about the advantages and disadvantages of various devices and platforms. The first day culminated with an evening Poster Session and Networking Reception, which included 27 poster presentations and opportunities to learn about exciting things happening in schools all across VA. There was a buzz in the air as guests and poster presenters traveled the room sharing ideas and visions. As one attendee summed up the evening, "the poster session was a great way to showcase what is going on around the state."
On Thursday, Day 2 of the Institute, these autism specialists were given the chance to attend three sessions of breakouts. The breakouts were organized in three tracks -- Communication and Social Skills, Systems Change, and Transition. A discussion session was held at the end of the day for all three tracks, giving attendees the opportunity to share about their division work in these topics and to brainstorm with colleagues on ways to implement what they had learned during the day. When asked what registrants found most relevant at the Institute, comments included: "being able to share info and get ideas from others was invaluable"; "the breakout sessions, (these) systems wide presentations were informative and practical"; and "networking opportunities, sharing of tools and resources, and having the tracks was a great way to organize sessions."
The conference concluded Friday with Regional CoLA Meetings and a Report-Out Session on plans for the upcoming year. Participants left the Summer Institute with new ideas for social skills, communication, coaching, transition between schools, and much more! For more information on the CoLA Summer Institute or the Regional Communities of Learning in Autism, please contact Becky Boswell, VCU-ACE Outreach Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.