Inservice Programs for Teachers Move Them Past “Special Ed 101”
Despite the large number of U.S. students receiving services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), most classroom teachers don’t receive much formal training in special education.
And, despite the fact students with disabilities and disorders are spending more time in the general education classroom with their peers, only 17% of general education teachers feel “very well prepared” to teach them, according to a 2019 report.
For these reasons, providing free inservice programs for teachers is a critical part of what we at Pediatric Therapeutic Services (PTS) do for our clients.
Why Today’s Teachers Must Learn More About Related Services
For too long, as PTS Co-founders and Managing Partners Pam Hackett and Diana Fongheiser write in their book about therapy costs, classroom teachers generally believed only specialists could implement therapy.
Teachers also worried any involvement “could be seen as stepping on the therapist’s toes. It was simpler to stand back, let the therapist ‘fix’ the child, and bring [them] back for a fresh start.”
Consequently, neither formal training nor professional development for teachers focused on special education and related services. General education teachers might have taken a single “Special Education 101” class as part of their coursework, at best. And, ongoing training in meeting students’ special needs is a “blind spot” in teachers’ professional development, according to Education Week.
Yes, special education teaching is its own discipline, with its own educational requirements and job demands. But, according to another Education Week article, the nation’s supply of special education teachers has fallen more than 17% since 2008, while the number of students with disabilities has barely dipped 1% in the same time.
Three Ways Professional Development in Special Education Helps Your Program
Fortunately, the situation is changing.
Policies are shifting students on caseload out of the special ed room and into their least restrictive environment for learning. And, as a result, teachers are seeking to fill the gaps in their training and professional development. Clinicians, too, are routinely pulling back the curtain on what they do to give teachers tools for helping students succeed.
Training teachers and other staff to deliver “therapy without the therapist” is also key to successful Multi-Tier Systems of Support (MTSS). Equipped with new information and know-how, teachers use Tier 1 interventions to benefit all students, receiving special education or not. As an outcome, school programs become exponentially more effective—without ballooning the budget.
Therapist-led inservice programs we provide for our clients’ teachers will:
- Educate Teachers in Therapy Disciplines to Better Understand Their Role in Student Treatment. Every therapy discipline has its clinical lingo and “alphabet soup.” Clinicians use inservices to explain their specialty’s key concepts and terminology in language teachers can understand. The goal isn’t making teachers talk like therapists, but helping them better appreciate students’ challenges and the solutions they can help deliver.
- Make Teachers and Paraprofessionals Stronger Diagnosticians. During inservice programs, therapists help teachers distinguish between student issues that are developmentally appropriate—certain articulation problems, for example—and, ones that actually call for evaluation and intervention. This knowledge leads to fewer unnecessary referrals, which helps to lessen the stress on your limited resources.
- Demonstrate Practical, Time-Saving Techniques for Addressing and Resolving Common Issues. When classroom teachers know to offer an agitated child a weighted blanket or to help a child reposition her paper to improve her handwriting, they become willing and confident team players. They can help students the moment help is needed most. “There are dozens of strategies a teacher can apply,” writes Fongheiser and Hackett. “All it takes is the right one.”
Choose from PTS’ Substantial Slate of Inservice Programs for Your Teachers
PTS has been leading related services delivery in the Delaware Valley for more than 20 years. In that time, we’ve developed an extensive repertoire of specific, practical professional development topics. When you’re a PTS Client, we can present programs for your team in person or virtually.
Our inservice programs for teachers in our clients’ programs include such topics as:
- Developmental Norms, Red Flags, and Classroom Strategies (in Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, and Speech-Language Pathology)
- Sensory Processing Strategies for the Classroom
- Fine Motor “Make and Take” for Teachers and Paraprofessionals
- Visual Perception Related to Classroom Skills
- Auditory Memory and Processing: Classroom Strategies
- Strategies to Support Communication Disorders
- Apraxia and Motor Planning—Everything You Ever Wanted to Know
- Implementing a Behavior Intervention Plan with Fidelity
- Using an MTSS Approach to Related Services
This list represents only some of the topics related to our professional development services. Our range of presentations is always growing. And, when you’re our client, we’ll work with you to create a customized inservice perfectly suited to your program’s most pressing needs.
Would you like PTS to help your program do more good for more students, without costing you more money? Call us today at 610-941-7020 or get in touch using this brief online form.