“The great aim of education is not knowledge, but action.”— Herbert Spencer
Herbert Spencer, an English philosopher, sociologist, and prominent theorist of the Victorian era, understood the importance of acting upon learning. Doing so deepens understanding and encourages transfer of new knowledge and/or skills.
This is especially important for students with disabilities. Imagine a student who learns to count change on a worksheet and then practices with a teacher or peer in the classroom without ever being taken into the community to practice the skill. How deep is the learning? Will the student be able to transfer this skill to new, but similar situations? Compare that learning to a student who learns on a worksheet, practices with a peer, and then experiences counting change as a cashier during a job trial and again when his class holds a garage sale.
Because special education students come with a variety of strengths, needs, disabilities, hopes, dreams, etc., special education teachers and leaders must participate in ongoing professional learning to ensure the highest likelihood of success. Participation in professional learning, however, is not enough. It is only after learning, when each educator or leader takes action, that students feel the positive impact. Taking action might sound like a special education teacher advocating for a learner with dysgraphia in an art class, or it might look like a building principal revising the schedule to ensure all students are in attendance for core literacy instruction. Professional learning opportunities, like the courses listed below, must provide more than information and resources, but also the chance to take action and apply what was learned. Each Teaching Channel course in our Special Populations category includes practical activities so participants can apply new knowledge to their professional practice.
Teaching Channel continually releases courses that focus on new strategies and supports for students with special learning needs. As a former special education teacher and leader, I personally recommend the following two courses:
- 5125: Supporting Struggling Students through High Leverage Practices
- 5140: New Moves for Teaching Students with Disabilities
- 5254: Mastering the Art of Better IEPs
- 5258: Inclusive Support for Students with Severe and Multiple Impairments (SMI)
- 5212: A Closer Look at Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, and Dyscalculia5250: Inclusion and Access for Students with Disabilities
- 5855: Neurodiversity: A New Approach for Students with Special Needs
- 5250: Inclusion and Access for Students with Disabilities
- 5240: Scaffolding Success for Students with Disabilities
Whether you want to start small with a one-credit course, or you’re ready to dive right in, register for one of these courses and then act on your new professional knowledge to positively impact students with disabilities and their families!