Professional Development

Better family engagement also means happier teachers. Support your team of educators with Exceptional Lives' professional development sessions on collaborative family engagement in Special Education.

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Skill-building support for your team

We offer professional development (PD) sessions to help your educators adopt a more collaborative approach to family-school partnerships.

Pick from a range of topics led by our expert team or choose to combine different sessions to fill a whole day with customized workshops.

Our approach is shaped by our personal experiences and Dr. Karen Mapp’s Dual Capacity Building Framework, a proven model for successful partnerships between schools and families.

All sessions include a 1 hour technical support follow up meeting and access to our IEP Welcome Kit, a customizable set of tools you can use to build great relationships with new Special Ed families right from the start.

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  • Effective Communication for Improved Family Engagement

    • Length: 2 hours

    In this session, we will review the proven impact of better family engagement on a variety of parameters. These include academic outcomes, school climate and the special ed process overall. We will describe strategies to improve communication with families as a way to enhance collaboration and build more trusting relationships.

    After this session, attendees will be able to:

    1. Understand why effective family engagement can lead to better student outcomes, more teacher satisfaction, and fewer complaints
    2. Describe 3 family-centered practices to improve communication, form trusting relationships and improve family engagement.
    3. Name and use 3 ways to improve the information schools present to families to make it easier to understand. 
    4. Find and use resources to improve communication for a family-centered, collaborative special ed process.

  • Positive Beginnings: Successful First IEP Meetings

    • Length: 2 hours

    In this session, we describe how to take special care to welcome new families to the special ed process. This includes helping them learn about the process, and intentionally nurturing the relationships from the beginning – even before the first IEP meeting – and throughout. We’ll include information about other disability resources to share with families to support their needs outside of school.

    After this session, attendees will be able to: 

    1. Describe what information new families need to know to develop positive relationships with their child’s IEP team. 
    2. Outline a clear plan to welcome new families to the SPED process and set the stage for improved communication and collaboration between home and school.
    3. Find and use resources to inform families about the SPED process, create reasonable expectations, and support the student’s needs in the classroom and at home.

  • Collaborative Transition Planning

    • Length: 2 hours

    This workshop will cover strategies to help schools guide SPED families and students through transition planning, to help the student prepare for life after school. You’ll learn about the mindset and needs of families at this time, and how to encourage ongoing discussions about the student’s future goals. We’ll also cover key parts of transition planning that parents will need to know, and share resources to help them engage in the process.

    After this session, attendees will be able to: 

    1. Identify and lower barriers families and students face in collaborating in the Transition Planning process.
    2. Outline effective practices for transition planning that will lead to more engaged, satisfied families and successful student outcomes.
    3. Find and use tools and resources to inform and engage families, and support successful Transition Planning.

  • Understanding the SPED Process for General Educators

    • Length: 2 hours

    This session helps general educators get comfortable with the special education process, and better understand their roles. We’ll discuss how to collaborate with families and the IEP team, communicate effectively throughout the year, and build strong partnerships with SPED families.

    After this session, attendees will be able to: 

    1. Demonstrate knowledge of the special ed process and their role within it. This includes managing the IEP, communicating progress, and the rights and responsibilities of families and the school.
    2. Communicate and collaborate more effectively with both families and the IEP team. 
    3. Find and use resources to help manage the IEP process in the classroom and maintain good communication with SPED families.

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