Comments from RJ Cooper's RoadTrips

Here's a great evaluation sheet summary (about 60 attendees) from a 1/16/08 workshop in the Bay area in CA.

<>Here's another great one from the 2008 Assistive Technology Cluster Conference in Richardson, TX on 7/30/08.
From some of the Previous RoadTrips

"I must tell u he was fantastic. I was telling everyone that when u started talking about RJ I didn't have a clue about who he was or what he is about.  From the time I sat in my seat until I stepped out at 2:45 I was on the edge of my seat listening and trying to see what he was doing.  I truly enjoyed him.  He was very informative and the kids were fantastic.  I just can't say enough about today.  I was telling my husband about my day.  You know its not very many workshops that I really really think r dynamic but today was that. Thanks for bringing him.  We were exposed to a lot today and my vision is very optimistic.

"Thank you so much for the RJ day. I thought it was great and very inspirational. I have never felt so inadequate and so fulfilled at the same time as I have working with these children the last two years. Thank you for making it possible."

"This was the most practical workshop I have ever attended."

"Things I like:

"It was so helpful to see the demonstration with actual people!!  Would recommend highly this workshop to others. Thank you for coming!!"

"This was fantastic.  I love RJ's enthusiasm and his products!  I have nothing to add as I feel his workshop is excellent."

"Having the students added so much since I'm such a visual person.  I like the manner in which you interacted with them - just as you would anyone else.  Your software also seemed to be fairly easy to use - that's good.  No negatives here - your presentation was informative and moved quickly!"

"As a resource teacher of both EMD and LD students, I saw how much of the software and/or devices can enhance my students' learning.  I'm glad I cam.  Thank you R.J.!
P.S.  I'm very, very interested in your products.  You'll be hearing from me soon!"

"Mr. Cooper's presentation was outstanding.  In all honesty, this is one of the most useful and entertaining workshops I have attended.  I have gotten ideas that I would like to get started on ASAP with some of my students.  Our financial folks might not be thrilled but too bad!  Thanks so much - I will come again when you are anywhere close by."

"This was a great workshop.  I admire your willingness to work with people who are so unpredictable in front of an audience of teachers and others who might be critical.  I thought you were incredibly resourceful."

"Picked up rapidly in assessing needs of subject & providing possibilities."

"Thank you for providing the experience & opportunity to see new innovations, and having someone of RJ's caliber in La Grande!"

"We wish the inservice could last more than 1 day so more of our children can get some input from RJ and crew.  It went by too fast and I think he should come and visit again."

"I really appreciate your working with students from our system rather than showing videos of others - It gave us a chance to see that this can really work."

"I learned more than I thought I would ever learn."

"Believe it or not, for a beginner I was satisfied and not overwhelmed."

"I appreciate his humor..."

"Your enthusiasm, fun and conviction that these kids can succeed is awesome! I'm inspired :)"

"It was great."

"I would like to recommend any family w/a severly handicapped child to participate in this."

"You are a great resource and problem solver. Thanks."

"I was impressed with the ease with which Mr. Cooper worked with the students & adapted software."

"This was wonderful, and the equipment and software is wonderful!!! :)"

"It is wonderful to see a hands-on workshop with the kids as subjects.  It is also refreshing to see someone with no therapy or education degree have an interest and be so good with the kids. You both have a gift and are a gift."

Next, here is a response from a recent host to a prospective host that is quite "skeptical" of my RoadTrip format.  It is followed by comments gleaned from session evaluations.
 Skeptic: >> 3.  I have a bit of a problem with the audience of 30.  I understand that your main purpose is marketing your products (I think), but an audience of 30 seems like it would be extremely difficult on the person that you're working with.  What has this been like on other road trips?  I am quite skeptical...

Craig: My first recommendation is, don't be skeptical - let RJ come in and do his thing.  I hosted an assistive technology workshop last Friday with RJ (65+ in attendance) - he came in energized and completely focused on what is best for the learner.  I am a Speech - Language Pathologist and have been working with assistive technology and adults / children with special needs since 1983 [sic].  I have never seen any one work so effectively and efficiently to get responses from the learner whether it was cause / effect, choice-making, keyboarding, and etc. 

RJ comes with an array of hardware and software from a number of vendors - he spends only a small amount of time reviewing these preliminaries as this is essential to understanding his philosophy and the direction he goes with his interventions.  During this time and throughout the day, he interjects his suggested teaching strategies which he has mastered over his many years in the AT field collaborating with peers and working with students with special needs.

A larger audience for some individuals may be distracting or intimidating.  However, RJ does not work in isolation - the learner's parents, education and other support staff are with the learner and very much a part of the session.  In addition to this though, RJ has a gift for making the learner feel comfortable and at ease.  At our session, the audience too helped the learner feel good about himself / herself as we found ourselves cheering them on at appropriate times and applauding the learner for target responses.  Several of our young adult learners quickly warmed to this audience response and became real "hams" - in the end, their response to RJ's interventions were fantastic and the parents / educators who support the user, went home with new avenues to explore as they further define the individual's educational support plan.

Skeptic: >>4.   30 minutes for each person to work with seems enough, but not  enough when it comes to hearing your comments and recommendations as well as taking comments and answering questions from the audience.  How has this worked on other road trips?  Do you take time before the actual  working session to hear some background info re each person?

Craig: Granted - 30 minutes can go fast,  but RJ works quickly for his sake yet is patient when it comes to giving the learner time to respond.  As RJ problem solves each individual's needs and develops an intervention strategy, he talks to the audience so that they know what he is doing and why.  Yes, there is time for some questions and comments from the audience - interjected througout the day. However, the audience needs to be as focused as RJ is on the task at hand - you also need a good note taker (and camera person to video the workshop) so that you have good information to reference after he leaves town. 

A suggestion that worked well for us - We served a box lunch for those who wished to stay on site for lunch - this gave us an extra hour with RJ to "pick his brain" and look at some of the equipment he was using.

RJ gets some basic information from the host site facilitator re: selected learners needs / goals / background information and etc.  With this information upfront and what is shared with him from the learner's circle of support at the time of the session - he takes it away.

Bottomline, if you structure this workshop as RJ recommends in his guideline, have a good selection of learners, and an open-minded audience - it will run smoothly and the day will be very successful for learner as well as audience.  Everyone will walk away having learned something new.  Our administration and staff were impressed with RJ's energy level and focus on the learner and, in the end, all were very complimentary of his skill in managing each session - I even heard it from people who didn't have a chance to attend - now they wish they had!

I wouldn't hesitate twice in having RJ come to your locale for this workshop - you won't be disappointed!

Craig B., MS, CCC-SLP
Speech - Language Pathologist
GV Developmental Center

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