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Special Education Teacher Network Launches

MEd Special Education student Cindy Collado says the special education world can feel very isolating.

“When I as a preschool teacher, I really felt alone,” Collado said. “I was the only preschool special education teacher in the building, and I had a hard time reaching out.  If I had colleagues teaching similar topics and similar kids, I would have felt a little more prepared.”

Combatting that sense of teaching on an island is part of the goal behind the new Speducators network formed at the College of Education.  The student organization brings together special education teacher candidates and service providers in the community to form a support and education network.

The organization is run by College of Education students and connects with alumni and other special education teachers to find fieldwork placements.  The group also is engaging in community outreach to connect with community organizations, setting up tutoring opportunities for teacher candidates with organizations like Family Matters in Rodgers Park.

“Teachers want to share the things they have created, the things they have expertise on,” Collado said. “We want to tackle the really big glaring issues teachers are having and gain ideas on how some teachers are resolving those issues.”

Alumni are contributing their special education strategies, including a ten minute tutorial on creating lesson plans and plans for a lesson on writing a thesis statement for high school students.  Collado says the group plans to start filming professional development videos with alumni on problem solving.

The group meets monthly and plans social gatherings to connect with alumni.  Collado says she hopes the organization will extend to work with families in the community through community engagement grants.  In March, the group will use grant funding to host three free workshops for special education teachers and families who have a school-aged child with a disability.