Hello, I hope you are having a good year and that your students are making excellent progress. In my last post I advised you to find a mentor and to join professional education organizations. I hope that these suggestions will prove as helpful for you as they were for me.
Today I want to discuss some of the advantages of belonging to professional organizations. Although the Internet has made it easy to research and find answers to many of the questions that arise in your practice, most organizations have newsletters, magazines, and journals that relate specifically to your practice.
For example, CEC SmartBrief, which publishes five times a week, does the research for you. It covers a range of education issues –- particularly special education issues –- that are being discussed throughout our country. Many interesting newspaper articles are available through these free SmartBrief newsletters. They also provide an easy way to keep up with laws and challenges to them. I would not always take the time to investigate or even become aware of many of these issues, if they were not already available in my inbox. It is a great timesaver and a relatively easy way to stay informed. You can sign up for CEC SmartBrief here.
Magazines and journals are another benefit of association membership. TEACHING Exceptional Children (TEC) is full of ideas that can be implemented in the classroom to address certain needs. You know that you can trust the advice contained in this journal because of the high standards of scholarship CEC promotes in its publications. You may find just the information that you need to work with a particular student. Or you may find that you have already tried some of the ideas that you read about. That serves to affirm that you are probably on the right track; it is gratifying to see that someone else is also thinking and practicing similar ideas. I have also found information in magazines and journals on new technology that benefits students. When I was teaching, I used these articles or ads to approach my administration about obtaining assistive technology help for my students.
I also make it a point to read journal research articles, too, such as those published in CEC's Exceptional Children. If they do not address my students’ age or exceptionality area, a quick skim can still provide a snapshot of some interesting issues. However, I recommend a thorough read of articles pertinent to your practice. Note the authors and where they are practicing. You may soon recognize some of the names that appear from time to time. Then, if you get to attend state and national conferences, you may have the chance to meet them and attend their sessions. It really is a small world, after all, when you take advantage of the many opportunities to further your practice offered by CEC.
I would like to hear about your experiences with the ideas that I have discussed so far. My next post will deal with legal knowledge.
Jane H. Humphrey, NBCT