Special Education Training for Teachers in the Academy


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Finding reliable information and useful ideas for your special education classroom on the internet can be challenging. Instagram and Pinterest are filled with examples and ideas for the classroom and activities but so many of them are not practical. So many teachers get lost in the idea of having a “Pinterest classroom” but we truly need to focus on setting up our classrooms in a way that is most beneficial to our students. 

I love helping reduce the overwhelm so many special educators feel when trying to figure it all out on their own. The Special Educator Academy is designed to help you move past the noise of the internet and get the information and practical systems and strategies you need to meet your students’ needs without the stress of doing it on your own. In this episode, I am breaking down the 6 courses inside The Special Educator Academy and what changes are coming for the academy.

01:27 – A glimpse into school consulting and sharing ideas before the internet made everything so accessible

05:35 – Membership options for the Special Educator Academy

07:08 – An overview of how the 6 courses offered inside the Academy provide special education training for teachers

13:06 – A peek at what new things are coming for the SEA

So, If you want to join and get everything you’ll get for the Setting Up Your Classrooms Bootcamp, join now with a 7-day free trial

Or, if you want to get the free tools during Bootcamp and you are listening to this less than 1 week away, you can join without the trial.

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Welcome to the Autism Classroom Resources Podcast, the podcast for special educators who are looking for personal and professional development.

Christine Reeve: I’m your host, Dr. Christine Reeve. For more than 20 years, I’ve worn lots of hats in special education but my real love is helping special educators like you. This podcast will give you tips and ways to implement research based practices in a practical way in your classroom, to make your job easier and more effective.

Welcome back to the Autism Classroom Resources podcast. I am Chris Reeve. And today, we have a special episode that I am really excited about.

Many of you have heard me mention and talk about the Special Educator Academy. The academy started in 2017. And it’s been running strong for almost six years now.

And in that time, we have built up an incredible amount of different types of support tools, and special education training for teachers in education of all kinds.

Today, I’m going to tell you kind of where we are, and what’s coming next for the Academy. Many of you might have heard the background when I recorded episode 127 Last summer, but I’ve got some really exciting changes coming for the new year that I think you might be interested in. And they’re going to start in July and August. So let’s get started.

When I was still doing school consultation, which I have done for almost 25 years, I traveled all around the US providing supports and special education training to teachers of all kinds. The travel was definitely not the fun part. The fun part for me was meeting all the teachers who often were alone in their districts, supporting students with autism, and students with significant behavior, or intellectual disabilities.

I liked the problem solving piece of it as well, that’s a big piece of why I do this. But one of the things that really stood out for me was that I met all of these amazing teachers who had such incredible ideas in their classroom.

But back in the days before social media, for those of you who are young enough that you don’t remember that it was a lot harder to share those ideas with others. And that was part of what I got to do. Especially once we got a digital camera, I can take ideas from one place and share them with another teacher, and they might never meet.

Now, I know this makes me sound ancient. And I promise I’m not that old. But I am old enough to remember a time that the only way to get pictures for ideas for independent work systems was to go to the Teach training in North Carolina and get the black and white book of photographs. And then protect that book with your life. Because if someone borrowed it and didn’t return it, it was all you had. And in fact, our structured work systems book, “Building independence” came out of that experience. And it actually sat on my hard drive for about 10 years before we wrote it, which is all the pictures I started collecting. But I digress.

I loved sharing ideas with special educators and I loved getting to share their amazing ideas with others. Early on in the internet, I actually created an intranet for sharing those ideas. And once Facebook and Instagram came along, it’s so much easier to share our ideas now.

But now we have a very different issue. Now there is so much noise out there in the internet, that finding reliable information that is practical and useful in your classroom, and figuring out what things to use that meet the needs of your students. That can be tough. So that is what the Special Educator Academy is designed to help with.

One example of this is independent work tasks. There are tons of examples out there on Instagram and Pinterest. But not all of them are practical. And not all of them are really suited to an independent work system. They might be great hands on activities, but they might not have the clear beginnings and ends or stay together when the student wants to put it away.

I’ve got a whole post about creating good independent work tasks that I’ll post in the show notes if you want more information about that. Or you can hop over to my free webinar in starting independent work systems at autismclassroomresources.com/iw-webinar. And I’ll also make sure that’s in the show notes as well.

The other part of training and consultation that I love is sharing special education training for teachers and other professionals with school districts. When I present live, it’s typically for an educational agency like Florida’s CARD centers, or a school district or even a state. So that means if you’re in a district that invests in professional development and special education that meets the needs of your students you often get the training because they’re hiring people to come in, or they’ve built capacity within their district to provide that.

But if you happen to be in a district that really doesn’t prioritize the training for your students, or can afford a full day of training for students who have significant disabilities, then you’re kind of left on your own to figure out how to make it work. And I’ve met a lot of teachers over the years who I know, had been in that situation. So when I created the Academy, I wanted to put training resources online, but I wanted it to be available and affordable to individual teachers.

And the membership model that we have with the monthly investment allows me to do that. So instead of costing $200, for just taking one class, we have six full classes that you can access for $25 a month, or $250 for every thing in the academy. And that makes me so happy because I get to share this with people who are really making a difference in our students lives.

So I thought today, I’d give you a quick overview of the kinds of courses specifically that we have in the academy. There is so much in the academy that I can’t cover all of it in one episode. So I’ve got another one coming up that will describe other pieces a bit more. And we’re making some really fun changes come August, that will have even more features that you will like and that you have asked for. And I’ll talk a little bit about that at the end of today’s episode.

But first, let’s talk about the special education training for teachers and anyone else who needs it that are available when you get started in Coursework. So as I mentioned, we have six courses in the academy now. You get a certificate of completion for completing all the coursework in the course. You can take that certificate to your district, you will need to determine if they will give you credit for it. But I make sure that I have included all of the information that I provide to districts when I do professional development. So they will have that available on the certificate.

We have are Setting Up Classrooms course which is our CORE elements for the classroom, that is six hours long. But don’t worry, because all of these courses, you can watch the videos in 15 to 30 minute bits, and the system keeps track of your progress.

This course takes you through how to use the teaching implementation plan to plan out how you’re going to implement your students’ IEPs as you set up your schedule. From that it takes you through setting up your classroom schedule, and then designing your classroom to structure it with the areas and the furniture. Then we finish up by talking about how to organize and build a team with the staff that serve your classroom using the zoning plan and the classroom vision.

Those of you who’ve been with me for a while have heard me talk about all of these elements. But this is designed to really help you figure out what’s going to work in your classroom. And for all of this, you get the templates that you need to implement the strategy.

You can take the courses online at any time, they’re there on demand for you as a member. Now one of the great things about this course is we actually do a study group every summer to help people prepare their classrooms. This year, we’re going to do it bootcamp style. So it’ll be using the CORE to organize your classroom, our setting up classrooms course. And I’m going to share more information at the end of this episode. And you can join us at the end of July.

Next up, we have a course on behavioral problem solving. In just eight hours, you will learn how to conduct a functional behavior assessment and use different types of FBAs to make informed decisions. But that’s not all. Because we also show you how to create a behavior plan that will actually work in real life situations, complete with a data graphing template to help you make sense of all that data to write the plan. Plus, our strategies are working with your team to construct the plan will ensure that everyone is on board and ready to implement it.

So with research based techniques that are practical for everyday use in the classroom, this course is really helpful for trying to set up systems to make a positive impact on your students behavior.

Next up, get ready to conquer the data monster with our course Taming the Data Monster. This course is designed to help you take data and use it effectively in your classroom because I know that data is one of the hardest things about the classroom and often the piece that gets left behind. And in fact it will be a whole month and probably more than one month during the year that we will focus on this as a theme.

With strategies for instructional behavioral data along with downloadable data sheets, this course gives you practical information on how much data you need, different ways to make data collection work in the classroom, how to plan your data collection, and how to analyze your data, including tools that help you make good educational decisions. With case studies that I use to show you how I make decisions about specific classrooms, there are strategies for everyone that can work in your unique situation. So with this course, data doesn’t have to be your nemesis.

Next up is our social skills course, it’s a six hour course, that offers numerous benefits for teachers working with students in a special ed settings, or general ed settings. By taking this course you learn how to assess social skills, and effectively teach them to your students. And what’s more, I’ve made sure to include assessment and strategies for students with significant challenges, who need to work on simple interaction, as well as strategies for students who might be on grade level, but still require assistance with the challenges that are presented by social situations. This comprehensive course covers all ages. And while it certainly has a lot about autism, it doesn’t have to be autism specific.

One of my favorite courses is our five and a half hour communication course. And while this definitely does not replace the expertise of a speech pathologist, this course is specifically designed to assist classroom teachers and related staff in setting up effective communication systems throughout their classroom. It covers a wide range of students with communication deficits from students who are nonverbal to students who are very verbal, and it provides potential IEP goals that align with those deficits as well.

Additionally, the course discusses various types of interventions, and helps you figure out which one might be best suited for your students. Plus, there’s even a module on using augmentative communication strategies in the classroom, and how you can engineer your classroom to support these students.

And finally, we have IEP bootcamp. It’s a comprehensive four hour course that focuses on the benefits of assessments, and present levels, writing measurable and practical goals and objectives that you can actually implement in your classroom. I’m providing multiple case studies and templates to help you identify your students’ needs and write goals for them.

The course culminates with a module on the teaching implementation plan, which is crucial for successful classroom implementation of the student’s IEP. So the idea is that you will learn how to apply all of that IEP knowledge to your students’ IEPs as you write new ones, to help ensure that your students are getting the best possible education.

So those are our six courses in the academy. I will be back with more opportunities for special education training for teachers in a couple of weeks. But right now, I promised you a peek at what is coming new to the academy starting later this month.

First, I want to invite you to join our live one week setting up classrooms boot camp, which is starting July 24. And get the benefits of getting your classroom plan together in a week. Each day Monday through Thursday, we will cover one module of the Setting Up Classrooms course. And we will provide time to work together planning your classroom based on information that you have available as of that time because I know not everybody goes back to school at the same time. If you go back later than that and don’t have the information, you definitely can come back to our community and get feedback then as well.

During this week, you’ll have access to live workshops, feedback from your classroom plans for me and the group, and valuable resources such as my manual from TPT for the teaching implementation plan and schedule planning, and another on building your classroom team. Plus, participants who are past their trial period will receive visual schedules and tools from my store, as well as a simplify independent work system set up of visuals. So that’s worth so much more than the monthly membership. So don’t miss that amazing opportunity included in your membership.

So you can join and get everything. For the Setting Up Your Classrooms bootcamp, you can join with a seven day free trial at autismclassroomresources.com/sea-bootcamp. And as long as you are more than seven days out before July 24, you will get the free printables. Or if you want to get the free tools during boot camp and you’re listening to this less than a week away, you can join without the trial at autismclassroomresources.com/sea-monthly.

But that’s only part of what’s changing in the new year. Each month, we will have a different theme that will include access to printable materials for my store, or especially made just for the academy that is related to that theme and that training. Starting in August, you’ll get access to a set of videos for implementing the elements of the theme.

So the themes will be things like lesson planning, and behavior support, and assessing and using reinforcement effectively and classroom management. The training videos will never be longer than an hour, they’ll usually be about 45 minutes. And they will focus on how to make research based strategies work in a real classroom.

In addition, we will have a live session to kick off the month every month on the first, regardless of what day so it moves around so it can be accessible to different people. And we’ll use that time to talk through our new theme. And share how it can be applied in your classroom, share what tools are available, and things like that. And don’t worry, even though we are focusing on this 45 minutes of training, you will have access to everything that has been recorded in the academy throughout your membership.

Y’all. I am so excited about this set of additions, it’s got me talking to southern again. Sorry, Mom, my mom tried to get me to stop doing that. But I am super pumped about continuing to offer all of this for $25 a month, or $250 for the year. If you join for an annual you’d say two months you’d save $50.

No, I’m not changing the price. We’re just changing up how we’re doing things, the Academy has been such a great resource for so many special educators. One member even said this, “All of the strategies and procedures I implemented from SEA have already helped form my reputation at my new school. My paras have commented over and over how difficult our students behavior are, but how the new structure of the classroom is helping to limit those behaviors.” That warms my heart because that is exactly what I want people to experience when they join the Academy.

So if you want to join and get everything that you’ll get for Setting Up Your Classrooms boot camp and join us for that, join now for a seven day free trial at autismclassroomresources.com/sea-bootcamp. Or if you want to get the free tools during boot camp, and you’re listening to this less than one week away, you can join without the trial at autismclassroomresources.com/sea-monthly.

And you can use that as well to sign up for the monthly themes that start in August. And as long as you are beyond your trial period, you will have access to the printables and the products that are available for that month. Just know that at the end of the month, it all goes away and we start again. But the training that we’ve amassed in six years will continue to be there.

I’ll be back in two weeks to talk more about all the other things that aren’t full classes in the academy, like our loyalty points system where you can download printables and videos, and our 15 minute quick wins and our five minute lightning training. So stay tuned for that. But next week, I’m taking a video from the SEA vault and sharing one of our quick weights with you during the episode. So definitely come back for that next week. Talk later.

Thanks so much for listening to today’s episode of the Autism Classroom Resources podcast. For even more support, you can access free materials, webinars and Video Tips inside my free resource library. Sign up at autismclassroomresources.com/free. That’s F-R-E-E or click the link in the show notes to join the free library today. I’ll catch you again next week.


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