Finding effective strategies and resources is imperative in helping students with special needs excel. Since many aspects of the field are continually changing, teaching professionals should consider obtaining an advanced special education degree, focused on research-based strategies for student achievement.
Examples of industry change include:
- New educational studies that provide better information on teaching methods
- Psychological research advances on specific health issues such as autism
- Regular advancements in technology to improve learning for special need students
In addition to advanced training and professional certification, there are plenty of helpful online resources for new and creative teaching tools and techniques. Here are ten of the best resources for special education teachers today:
Activities and Games
Do2Learn has thousands of pages that will help students improve on social skills, behavior, and academics. The website provides many student activities, including songs, games, seasonal arts, crafts and more. There are also valuable teaching resources, including a teacher toolbox, behavior management plans, literacy tools, and special education products.
Experts in the field of special education design the information and materials provided on Do2Learn. The strategies are specially designed for students with special needs, especially those with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Attention Deficit Disorder, and other disabilities that affect learning, social skills, communication and self-regulation.
Curriculum and Classroom Techniques
Teacher Vision offers free curriculum strategies and classroom management techniques to teach students with special needs effectively. Resources include:
- Ways to adapt and supplement your classroom materials with printed materials, activities, books, and charts.
- Tips to create an inclusive classroom with behavior modification and educational technology.
- Informative articles on learning and developmental disabilities, mental health, wellness, and ADD/ADHD.
- Information and tools to use with students in assessment accommodations such as how to use Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences in testing and assessment, case studies, and tips on grading.
- Tips and tools you can use with students to help them learn subjects such as science, mathematics, social studies, and reading and language.
- Teaching methodology articles on how to better manage and teach students with special needs.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 17 percent increase in special education teachers from 2008 to 2018. Although competition in the field may rise, the U.S. Labor Statistics Bureau also reports that many school districts are having trouble finding an adequate number of licensed special education teachers.
To put yourself in the best possible position and receive the teaching position you desire, consider seeking additional education with a Master of Science in Special Education to get advanced training along with professional certification.
IEP and 504 Plan Resources
The National Center for Learning Disabilities can help further your knowledge on many types of learning disabilities. Videos and articles contain valuable information and strategies to help you effectively teach your students. You can also read tips on assistive technology, improving parent-teacher relationships, and using the Individualized Education Program (IEP) or 504 Plan.
The National Association of Special Education Teachers (NASET) provides news and information on special education teaching methodology. Some of the resources on this website include:
- The NASET Special Educator e-Journal, a monthly journal focusing on special education trends.
- A list of 100 forms, tables, checklists, and procedures you can view and print to help organize and manage all the activities you need to do on a daily basis.
- News alerts to help you stay on top of the newest research discoveries.
- Articles you can read on how to assess students for placement in special education.
- Monthly publications of The Practical Teacher, which includes tools, strategies, and information you can use to better manage your classroom.
- Handouts you can give to parents after a parent teacher conference that will help them understand how they can help their child at home.
- Free online editions of the Journal of the American Academy of Special Education Professionals, which include studies from researchers in the special education field.
- Many articles on autism, assessments, behavior modification, and classroom management you can read and print for sharing with other teachers and parents.
Research and State Laws
The Education Commission of the States provides news, the latest research findings, and special education laws by state. The site lists special education workshops and other events focusing on the special needs of students. You can also join the community to meet other teachers in your area or across the nation to learn what’s worked for them in their classrooms.
The National Education Association provides special education news and guides on common issues found in the special education school system. Some of the guides include:
- Truth in Labeling: Disproportionality in Special Education
- The Puzzle of Autism
- Twice Exceptional Dilemma
- IDEA and NCLB: Intersection of Access and Outcomes
The NEA also provides resources to free online tools such as the Transition Toolkit and planning sheets.
Social networking sites provide you with a large community of special education teachers to consult with on what strategies they find effective. The following are some of the social networking sites where you can connect with other educators:
Search for active special education teacher groups on Facebook. Introduce yourself, and jump right into the discussion.
Follow experts and teachers who tweet news, information, and links to resources. Provide your own tips, reply to tweets, and join chats to meet other teachers.
LinkedIn is a social networking site for professionals. Create a profile highlighting your special education credentials, experience, and your current teaching location. You can connect with many other teachers and professionals in the field of special education on this site.
Teaching Materials and Strategies
Learning Disabilities Online features an Educators section, which provides instructional strategies, information, and solutions for teaching issues. There is also a LearningStore for products to supplement your teaching material.
You can also browse the other sections of the site to learn more about the learning and developmental disabilities your students have, and review the latest news and research in childhood disabilities and special education.
Additionally, the website has recommendations for many other resources found online, books, and state resources you can consult for additional information.
According to government statistics, Special Education is one of the fastest growing education career fields nationwide. Furthering your education with an advanced degree, along with utilizing the resources mentioned in this article, will prepare you for maximum success in this high-demand career.