Many teachers across the United States subscribe to the old proverb: “It takes a village to raise a child.” They feel that they alone cannot ensure the academic success of any one child. This takes the concentrated effort of educators, parents, administrators, politicians and community leaders. And it may take just a slightly larger village to meet the needs of those in special education.
With federal programs, Individual Development Plans (IEPs) and integrative practices at schools throughout the country, special education students do have a wealth of support and resources designed to help them achieve in the academic environment.
But to where do special education teachers turn when they need information to help them improve their strategies, better understand a specific learning disorder or special education laws, or provide more effective learning opportunities for their students?
World Wide Resources
As one might expect, teachers can go to the Internet to find the resources providing the tools needed to do their job to the best of their abilities. Some websites are fully or partially devoted to providing special education teachers with links to applications, interactive games and other tools and suggestions to help them better perform their challenging vocation.
Here are a few of the more well-known sites that are either devoted solely to special education or contain sections addressing special education topics:
- Do2Learn: a comprehensive special education site that offers everything from free songs and games to overviews of disabilities and behavior management plans.
- National Association of Special Education Teachers : a national association providing links to audio lectures and presentations on topics ranging from stress and classroom management to intervention and assessment methods, online professional development courses, relevant publications and more. Some materials are accessible only to members.
- Teachers Helping Teachers: written by teachers, this site provides a section devoted to special education. This page contains articles covering effective games for special needs students as well as articles addressing such topics as modification strategies, classroom management tips and even techniques for keeping paperwork organized.
- Learning Disabilities Online : offers an Educators section with articles about learning strategies, technology and methods for teaching specific content as well as an online store selling video series and other products which teachers can use as supplements to their instructional materials.
- Special Education Resources for General Educators (SERGE): contains a link to the model standards of licensing general and special education teachers as well as links to regional and national organizations supporting and providing information about specific disabilities.
Gaining More Insight
Though not geared specifically to special education teachers, this group would find the following resources helpful.
For more information about specific disorders, teachers can turn to the following organizations, among others:
- Autism Society of America
- National Attention Deficit Disorder Association
- American Association on Mental Retardation
- National Down Syndrome Society
- International Dyslexia Society
For legal information regarding special education, teachers can find details about the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) through the U.S. Department of Education. Information about special education laws can also be found on individual state education agency and department websites.
Some feel that there are too few resources for teachers who arguably need all the support they can get. It might appear so, but the resources that are available seem to be thoroughly informative and easily accessible.
Perhaps, though, all the extensive resources in the world can’t replace what special education teachers need most: parental involvement, administrative dedication and political support.
These could be the most valuable resources in the village.