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January 24, 2024

Exploring Special Education Essentials: A Webinar Series by AFT’s Share My Lesson

AFT’s Share My Lesson is dedicated to ensuring that all students feel seen and feel they belong by making certain that their needs are met. Register for our free, for-credit webinars on special education essentials.

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We all want to be seen and feel that we belong. However, for many students who receive special education, and for many educators who work with students with disabilities, the feeling of inclusion is not always a constant in our schools. For me, this became particularly clear in 2017.  I was participating in a mandatory after-school professional development session at the middle school where I worked when one of the educators who worked solely with special education students leaned over and whispered to me how this wasn’t relevant to her work with these students at all. I couldn’t tell you what that particular session was about, but I did begin to notice that when it came to determining PD topics, the needs of special educators were often overlooked. And when the needs of special educators are overlooked, the needs of students who receive special education services are overlooked.

All educators can benefit from receiving professional development in supporting students who need special education services. According to data collected from 2021 by the National Center for Education Statistics, 67 percent of students who are served under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) spend at least 80 percent of their time in general classes. We need to ensure that all students feel seen and feel they belong by ensuring that their needs are met. AFT’s Share My Lesson is dedicated to this issue and has created two collections of lesson plans and resources to address it:

Additionally, we are hosting a series of four free, for-credit webinars on special education essentials. These new webinars aim to provide educators, paraprofessionals, school personnel and other stakeholders with a comprehensive understanding of the legal frameworks, best practices and practical strategies for supporting preK-12 students with disabilities.

Student and teacher

Special Education Essentials: Supporting Every Student

Why was there a need to create a federal law to safeguard the rights of students with disabilities? How do teachers, paraprofessionals and other school personnel ensure students are receiving a free and appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment? If you want to know the answers to these questions and others, join the AFT and Share My Lesson for this essential webinar on special education, where we will delve into the crucial foundations and practices that shape the education of students with disabilities.

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student and teacher

Special Education Essentials: Implementing the Individualized Education Program

Join AFT’s Share My Lesson and expert presenters from the AFT for this free, for-credit webinar exploring the special education essentials of implementing an individualized education program (IEP). An IEP is a critical process that ensures schools are providing FAPE (Free Appropriate Public Education) to every student with an IEP. This webinar will address topics including accountability and transparency, parental involvement, progress monitoring and much more. 

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teacher with students

Special Education Essentials: The Least Restrictive Environment

Join AFT’s Share My Lesson and expert presenters from the AFT for this free, for-credit webinar exploring the special education essentials of creating the least restrictive environment. Attendees will gain an understanding of what LRE means in the area of special education, its legal foundations and its importance in ensuring an appropriate education for students with disabilities.

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teacher with student

Special Education Essentials: IEP v. 504 Plan

Join this webinar to get an overview of the IEP and 504, including an explanation that both are designed to provide supports for eligible students but function under different federal laws, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. This webinar will also compare and contrast the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) with the IEP and 504 Plan.

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Register for All Webinars in the Special Education Essentials Series

Register for all four free, for-credit webinars in the special education essentials series.

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Megan Ortmeyer

Megan Ortmeyer is an SML Team Member and has worked in the AFT Educational Issues Department since fall 2018. She received her M.A. in education policy studies in May 2020 from the Graduate School of Education and Human Development at the George Washington University.

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