Dr. Marla J. Lohmann is an assistant professor in Colorado Christian University’s Master of Education in Special Education program. She currently serves as the chair of the Council for Exceptional Children Faith-Based Schools & Organizations Caucus. Dr. Lohmann has been married to her husband Mark for 13 years and is the mother of four young children. They currently live in Lakewood, Colorado.
Being an effective teacher requires being a lifelong learner. The best teachers never stop learning about best practices in the field of education. While it may seem daunting to find resources for learning more about teaching, there are many ways that teachers can stay connected to the field, even after leaving the university setting.
At Colorado Christian University, we highly encourage future teachers to join, and become actively involved in, professional organizations. I recommend that special Educators explore the following organizations and join one (or more) during their time at CCU and continue membership post-graduation.
Helpful organizations for special education professionals:
Council for Exceptional Children (CEC)
The Council for Exceptional Children is the most popular and largest professional organization in special education. There are currently over 27,000 CEC members around the world, and membership includes college students studying to be teachers, current teachers, professors, parents, and others working with children and adults with disabilities.
CEC membership includes the option to join subdivisions, special interest groups, and caucuses that are tailored to the specific needs and interests of members. I recommend CEC because of the access members receive to current research via the journals and webinars, as well as the ability for members to share ideas with one another through the CEC online community boards. In addition, the annual CEC convention is a fabulous way for SPED teachers to learn evidence-based practices and current research from the leaders in the field.
National Association of Special Education Teachers (NASET)
The National Association of Special Education Teachers is a professional organization that is focused on meeting the needs of professionals in the field through online resources and weekly email updates about new developments in the field. I recommend NASET because it provides a plethora of online, practical, teacher-friendly articles that address a variety of topics related to the field of special education. It also gives teachers the opportunity to share their knowledge and experience by writing articles for the online e-publications. In addition, university teacher candidates should check with their professor to see if he/she has a NASET membership, as professors can share their membership with current students for free.
Christian Educators Association International (CEAI)
The Christian Educators Association International provides Christian teachers with tools for successfully living out their faith in the public school setting. Through its website and other communications, CEAI helps teachers connect their work and their faith, provides practical information about teachers’ legal rights regarding practicing their faith in the school, and provides resources such as information and legal counsel. I recommend CEAI because of its strong faith-career connection and the free membership option.
Council for Learning Disabilities (CLD)
The Council for Learning Disabilities is an organization for professionals serving children and adults with learning disabilities. CLD supports the professional learning of those in the field through free online access to current research articles, as well as a national conference. I recommend CLD for the articles on evidence-based practices, particularly those found in Intervention in School & Clinic and the Research to Practice Corner of the website.
Association of Positive Behavior Supports (APBS)
The Association of Positive Behavior Supports provides professionals interested in behavior management the opportunity to connect and share ideas. I recommend APBS because of the practical knowledge available to teachers through the journal, newsletters, website, and webinars (which are all free to current members). For teachers working in SPED positions focusing on behavior, membership in APBS is invaluable.
International Association for Special Education (IASE)
The International Association for Special Education is the ideal group for SPED professionals working overseas and for those who are passionate about meeting the needs of children with disabilities worldwide. IASE connects teachers with research through the publication of an annual journal and a biannual conference, held in a different country each time. I recommend IASE for any teachers who are considering moving abroad or for those who just want to know more about the state of education for children with disabilities in other countries.
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