Teaching is hard. There is no way around it. And teaching special education can be even more challenging. Especially at this time of year (May) I know many of you are dealing with increased behavior from students, finishing up testing and IEPs and just general fatigue from a long year.
I hope you have also had the opportunity to enjoy the gains your students have made, reflect on the impact your year has had for your students and families, and reflect on how much you have likely grown this year as a professional.
My mission throughout my career has always had a focus on supporting the educators who make special education possible. I love the opportunity to help you grow and also to provide some support along the way of what is sometimes a rocky and lonely journey.
This focus is what led to the development of the Special Educator Academy membership site. It opened almost 2 years ago and it has grown so much in that time, I thought I would share some of the opportunities that are available and grow from it. Most of the growth and additions to the resources have been based on feedback from the current members.
What is the Special Educator Academy?
The Special Educator Academy is a monthly or annual membership with a growing library of research-based, practical tools and training for special educators to address your day-to-day challenges. When you join you get instant access to research-based, practical tools and training you can implement in your classroom tomorrow, with a community to provide the support you need (and deserve!).
In the Beginning….
When we began the Academy Membership, we started with 1 full-length course on Setting Up Classrooms in Special Education. We had 4 or 5 workshops (3 of which are provided now for FREE through the resource library here). We had 3 or 4 Quick Wins (5 to 15-minute videos on strategies you can implement the next day) with resources to do it. And the community for discussions.
What Your Academy Membership Includes Now
2 Members-Only Weekly Podcasts
Yep, your Academy membership comes with 2 podcasts that are private just for members. One, the SEA Show, focuses on how to handle certain problems or issues or information about strategies like how to manage perseveration or why extinction isn’t always the best choice.
The second one, Monday Morning Reflections, is designed to be more of a “lift you up” on the way to work podcast. It focuses on how to save time, how to stay in a positive frame of mind, cultivating positive interactions with staff, etc. I have a friend who calls it “cheerleading for teachers” and I realized, special educators really need a cheerleader, so yea.
An IEP Goal Bank
We have a growing IEP goal bank with IEP goals that I’ve written throughout the years. It grows as we have requests in the community for them.
A Social Narrative Bank
This bank also grows. They are the text to social stories I’ve written over the years. And again, it grows as we have requests for stories about specific situations.
Weekly Live Office-Hours
Every Sunday night, we have a weekly online video/audio/text chat (depending on your preference). It’s a chance for members to ask questions, get feedback, me to share ideas, and more. It’s been a great support hour for the members. And if you can’t make it, it’s always recorded so you can grab it later in video (or in audio to listen on your way to work).
You Don’t Need Much Time to Benefit from the Academy Membership
All of these additions came about as a way to help members consume the content on their time. You don’t need a lot of time to make good use of an Academy membership.
- Subscribe to the podcast for a month and listen on your way to work
- Watch a 10-minute quick win on how to increase initiation of communication
- Grab a data form and use the Quick Win how-to video to show your staff how to use it
- Jump to the Office Hours video that talks about a specific topic
- Find an IEP goal if you are hitting a brick wall thinking of it.
- Pose a question in the community and come back and check for ideas and responses later in the day.
Original Features Grown Up
The Academy Membership now has 5 full-length courses including:
- Setting Up Classrooms
- Behavioral Problem Solving
- Taming the Data Monster
- Social Skills
- Building Communication Skills
But the greatest thing about these courses is that they are divided up into 20 to 30 minute (or less) videos that you can watch at a time. Or just watch the topics within the courses that you feel you need info on.
At the time of this writing, we have 43 1-hour workshops on the site. Many of them also have resources developed just for that topic like
- Resources for writing standards-based goals
- Templates for tools for teaching students executive functioning skills
- Tools for writing present levels from assessments
- A Community-Based Instruction Skills Planner and Checklists
We now have 25 Quick Wins and this is a big growing area over the next year. Many of the 15 minutes (or less) videos also have printable tools to allow you to implement them immediately. You’ll find resources like:
- 5-Point Scale templates
- Crisis plan templates
- Templates for making rubrics for data collection
- An Instructional Problem-Solving Checklist for analyzing classroom data
And the Academy membership site still has an amazing and growing community for sharing ideas, problems, and just providing support for each other. We don’t use Facebook groups because they are just too hard to navigate and it’s just nice to keep work separate sometimes. This way you can share, get ideas and then go relax without getting sucked into scrolling.
Is Special educator Academy membership Right for Me?
Over the course of the last 2 years, we have developed a variety of resources that I am putting into paths for professionals at different parts of your journey. I want to make it easier to access and material you can actually use to make your job easier, less time consuming, effective, and most importantly, more satisfying.
So, if you are a new teacher, we have a path that starts with elements of the Setting Up Classrooms course and leads through some of the systems to put in place your first years.
Are you an experienced teacher? We have new tools and strategies for data collection, ways to prep your classroom in less time, and support to learn more about the types of students you may be encountering that are new to you. And we have videos you can show your paras for training as well.
Resource Teacher? We have a path that emphasizes social skills, behavior, supporting students in inclusion, and collaboration (because we know how important that is when you aren’t the primary teacher)!
And we have many more paths…because we have many more types of educators out there.
Can I Afford an academy membership?
You can join monthly or buy an annual academy membership at a discount. And, the price is no more than you would pay to go to a 1 or 2-day Professional Development training. Typically those would cost you $100 to $200. For $200, you get the professional development with online support for implementation throughout the year focused on the knowledge and skills that YOU need.
If you are just starting out and money is tight, I’ll be opening up opportunities for scholarships for some new teachers (0-3 years teaching) this summer. We’ve also had several members use Donor’s Choose to fund their annual membership as well.
Some members are also funded by their school districts. And we have several districts that have teams on the site to provide their staff with professional development. If this is something you are interested in, contact me and I’m happy to send you the information you need to share with administration.
Still not sure it’s right for you? I’m happy to answer any questions you have about whether it’s right for you. Either hop over to the sales page and use the chat button to ask me, or hop into the Facebook Group and share your thoughts.
Come join us….as one member said….
“Join. It’s good for the soul.”
Click the picture below to sign up or find out more.
Until next time,