Professional Development Resources for Special Education Teachers

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

It is important for all teachers to commit to ongoing education about current educational research and how best to meet our students' needs. This lesson focuses on resources that will help special education teachers with professional development.

Continuing Your Professional Growth

Jessica has been a special education teacher for ten years, and she knows that she has benefitted from all of her experience working with diverse learners.

At the same time, though, Jessica understands that it is her ethical and professional responsibility to continue learning all the time. Of course, her district requires her to get ongoing professional development credits to maintain her license, but Jessica knows the obligation goes beyond that.

A teacher who continues professional development, or learning and growth within their field, is methodologically more up to date and better able to communicate with students and families.

Jessica thinks about the different resources available to special education teachers who, like her, are committed to ongoing professional and intellectual growth.

Professional Organizations

First of all, Jessica knows that there are many different professional organizations related to professional development.

National Association of Special Education Teachers

This is the only organization that exists nationally for supporting the intellectual and professional growth of special education teachers. The NASET functions as a clearinghouse for up to date research, and Jessica knows how to use their website to find information about what is happening pedagogically in the most current studies.

NASET also holds job listings, a variety of conference information, databases, video lectures on different topics, and awards to exemplary teachers in the field.

Council for Exceptional Children

This organization has a strong policy wing that Jessica looks to when she is interested in how current events and issues might impact her students and their families. CEC also provides up to date research on new curricula and pedagogical approaches within special education. They host conferences and webinars on different topics Jessica is interested in.

Specialized Organizations

Jessica also knows that there are many more specialized organizations that provide research, methods, and policy ideas related to specific disabilities and how to meet the needs of students who have them. Examples include the International Dyslexia Association, the American Council of the Blind, and the Autism Society of America.

Over the course of Jessica's career, she knows she is likely to encounter students with a wide variety of needs, and she looks to these organizations to help her stay in touch with the needs and issues facing her current students each year.


Jessica also knows that there are many professional journals she can look to as she pursues her own professional growth and development.

The Journal of Special Education

This journal has articles that include empirical research on current interventions and practices in special education. A peer-reviewed journal, it is intellectually rigorous and focuses on students with a wide variety of disabilities. It also publishes issues based on particular themes.

Teacher Education and Special Education

Jessica is especially interested in this journal when she is working with student teachers. It features articles about how best to train teachers to work with students with disabilities, and it also publishes original research within the field of special education.

Teaching Exceptional Children

This journal, published by the Council for Exceptional Children, focuses primarily on how to put research into practice when it comes to special education. Jessica likes it because it offers down to earth strategies and helps her make sense of some of the more abstract theory in her field.

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