As we prepare for summer and the luxuries it affords us, like sitting down to eat and using the bathroom whenever we want, we also get to consider both the required and elective professional development that we chose to pursue. So often there are required trainings from our school administrations, but we may have the chance to find courses of our own or develop our skills additionally on our time. I think all teachers are interested in endeavors that can help our classrooms run more smoothly and benefit our students throughout the school year.
The Autism Helper
The most obvious resource to find professional development is right here, through theautismhelper.com. There are multiple ways to access this amazing training. Sasha puts on amazing workshops all over the country, which is one of the ways that I first connected with her and her vast knowledge and skills. Here is a listing of upcoming trainings. If she is not already coming to your area, I highly recommend you advocate to the powers that be to bring her in the future. For me as a teacher, Sasha is so relatable and real. She offers strategies and practices that really work, along with all the resources to make it happen. Attending a live training with Sasha was pivotal in my teaching.
Another way to access Sasha’s expertise without attending an event is to access the training series, watch tutorials, and plug in to the podcast! This is a great place to start: Videos. These videos give really great tips and you can just feel Sasha’s passion for our students. If you aren’t already catching the podcast, it needs to be on your summer To Do List! There are so many topics that teachers want to talk about, guests with incredible experience, and a light heartedness that is necessary when our job is as stressful as it can be.
Council for Exceptional Children
The Council for Exceptional Children is an organization that is near and dear to my heart. I was involved in the student chapter when I was in my undergraduate at Texas Woman’s University and went on to the Texas’ Outstanding First Year Teacher in 2009. I have stayed involved at the state and national level with CEC and it has afforded me opportunities for high level professional development opportunities. I highly recommend attending the national conference, which is usually during the school year. These events bridge the gap between the academic arena and those that have their boots on the ground, educating students. I have been able to learn so much more about the research behind our best practices through CEC events. I also recommend getting involved in leadership within this community if you are passionate about supporting other educators and/or implementing positive change at a national level.
More accessible for most of us will be the State Conferences and Regional Trainings. Check out their calendar to see if there are opportunities for you to connect with special educators in your area. Community is absolutely essential for us as special educators and this may be a avenue that works for you. These events often will offer formal CEUs if they are required for your teaching or professional certificate. CEC also offers live and archived webinars, available with a membership.
A very popular curriculum that many schools use is the Unique Curriculum, featuring their monthly activities and weekly News-2-You periodical. If your school subscribes to this website, there are opportunities available. Unique offers self-paced modules to learn more about the curriculum and through webinars to improve your skills. Being more familiar with your curriculum can always improve how smoothly your year progresses and how much your students are able to learn from the activities. No matter which curriculum your school subscribes to, I urge you to take the opportunity during the summer to pursue trainings or take time to become better versed in the resources available to you.
National Association of Special Education Teachers
NASET is an organization that I am less familiar with, but any entity that is based in equipping special educators and providing community for them, I can definitely get behind. Their website is easy to access and their Professional Development Program is laid out in a way that is easy to understand. They have different avenues for different school roles and guarantee that you can meet your professional development obligations through their resources. This may be a great option for teachers are very isolated geographically or have difficulty accessing PD because of family/personal commitments. Find more information here.
I hope this serves as a good jumping off point for your professional development endeavors this summer! If you know of a great opportunity in your area, leave a comment, let us know! We are better together!