Special Education Today

Why I’ll Be Sharing My Story on Capitol Hill

When I first started in education as a paraprofessional, I was drawn to our students with emotional and behavioral disorders (EBD) and Autism spectrum disorders (ASD). I quickly formed bonds with them and, through our relationship, could put out most fires during the day.  As such, my colleagues called me “The Whisperer.” With any challenging behavior, they would be sure ...

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3 Tips for Classroom Set-Up on a Budget

Setting up a classroom can be a daunting task. Here are my top tips for stretching a small budget to get the things you need.

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5 Things We REALLY Want to Thank You for This Teacher Appreciation Week

When it comes to Teacher Appreciation Week, I think we can all agree there is a lot to be thankful for. Most of us can relate to the profound discovery that happens when you find someone who is willing to stand in your corner, hold your hand through the day-to-day challenges, and recognize your unique strengths to help you achieve ...

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Reflecting on How Far We’ve Come This National Autism Awareness Month

In April, we in the special education community come together to honor National Autism Awareness Month.  As we set aside time to celebrate those on the autism spectrum, I can’t help but reflect on how far we’ve come over the past few decades thanks to the tireless work of exceptional educators to improve the lives of our students with autism ...

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How I Stay Organized During IEP Season

For special education teachers, the spring often means one thing: IEPs. Between analyzing data, drafting goals, writing PLOPs and transition plans, and the various other components involved in drafting an IEP, it can be a stressful and overwhelming time. Fortunately, I’ve been able to develop a few strategies that have helped make IEP season a little easier and I’m happy ...

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How do you handle bullying when it happens in your classroom?

October is National Bullying Awareness month which, can be especially meaningful for students with exceptionalities or those who have experienced bullying. Often students with exceptionalities are bullied for the very thing that makes them unique, their exceptionality. It can often be hard to support these students in reporting and coping with being bullied. I was recently reading a new book ...

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Drowning in data? Here’s a way to stay above water

Collecting and analyzing data from your classroom can be a daunting task. For many special education teachers, it can be the least favorite part of their job. How do you organize data? How do you spot key trends? What does it mean? The answers are closer than you think. The Data Collection Toolkit and The Special Educator’s Toolkit (both available ...

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Inclusion is vital and it’s up to us

As special educators, our primary mission is to provide an exemplary, world class education to our students with exceptionalities. This includes adapting the curriculum, modifying assignments, and providing accommodations to ensure our students have access to the general curriculum and an equitable chance of succeeding. One component of that charge is to increase the inclusion of our students as much ...

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Avoiding Surprises

Have you ever experienced that moment, in the middle of October, when a student has worked your last nerve and you send them to the office? When they get to the office and the principal calls home, their parents are surprised, and you feel the heat. How can you avoid this? Through open and continuous communication. Just like creating a ...

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What would you recommend?

Remember all the great feedback Martina Sestak, a “newbie” special educator, received from CEC members in the All-Member Forum? Well the advice didn’t stop, the conversation kept rolling. This rich discussion closed with a few members recommending resources to help new teachers succeed. “What great advice and information everyone has shared,” said Gail Ferguson, special education coaching coordinator. “One great ...

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Teaching students to self-advocate

Self-advocacy for a student with an exceptionality is essential to their success both during and after school. Students must be aware of their needs and how to get them met. One such strategy is to teach them where their struggles lie and involve them in creating strategies. I teach a personal development class at my school and one of the ...

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Professional Development: A visit to the spa, not the dentist

To teachers, professional development is often akin to going to the dentist. Why, you ask? Every year, we get those dreaded emails telling us that we are required to attend an all-day workshop to help us improve professionally. What happens next? We sit in a cold room with someone we don’t know at the front, with a PowerPoint presentation―if we’re ...

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A teacher’s perspective: End of year blitz

The end of the year is a challenging time for all teachers, especially special education teachers. The end of the year blitz often starts in February or March, as we are inundated with annual IEPs, ESY addendums, and last-minute service changes in anticipation for the next school year. From there we have the battle of classroom management, as the students ...

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Board Appoints Leadership Development Committee

The Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) has instituted a comprehensive and inclusive process to ensure a highly competent, diverse, and inclusive volunteer leadership base by establishing a Leadership Development Committee (LDC). Duties of the committee include intentionally identifying, cultivating, recruiting, and orienting a well-qualified and diverse pipeline of volunteer leaders for board of director and committee positions that are responsive ...

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Education matters: Investing in America’s future

The opioid epidemic has rapidly emerged as a substantial health crisis in West Virginia and has become one of the greatest issues facing educators in the state—especially special educators. As the Director of Preschool and Special Education Programs in Fayette County in West Virginia, Dr. Linda Palenchar shared this during last week’s Capitol Hill briefing launching the Committee on Education ...

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