In any sub-field of education, challenges will arise, but the support and resources found at special education conferences can often make the difference between success and the status quo. At these regional or national gatherings, educators, policy makers, teaching students, and researchers come together to share resources, offer support, and discover new ways of enriching the educational experience for their students. Below, five great conferences are listed for the year 2017 as a guide for those interested in attending.
1.) Wisconsin Transition Conference
Held on February 9 and 10, 2017, this conference brings together professionals from the field of special education, as well as those seeking to learn and individuals engaged in policy design or educational research. The conference will convene in the Kalahari Resort and Convention Center in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, and will feature key note speaker Barb Blakeslee, M.Ed. As the founder of My Key Consulting LLC, she’ll touch upon the importance of student self-realization as part of the educational journey as students grow into young adults.
2.) CEC Special Education Convention and Expo
Held in Boston on April 19-22, this convention brings together interested parties, educators, and also product vendors. In addition to providing inspirational lectures, educational seminars and workshops, and many chances for those invested in the good work of special education, teachers and researchers can also take time to explore the latest learning tools for the classroom. The convention will offer both full and half-day workshops to fit a variety of busy schedules. However, everyone should find something to engage and uplift them during this weekend-long event.
3.) International Association of Special Education, Biennial Conference
In 2017, Perth, Australia will host this prestigious meeting of special educators from around the world. Held on June 24-29 in the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre, the conference includes five days of workshops and lectures, time to discuss the most important issues in the field with fellow educators, policy makers, and researchers from around the world. Plus, by registering for the conference on international special education, each member will receive a concurrent membership in IASE for the year 2018.
4.) American Council on Rural Special Education Annual Conference
Held each spring in a different city, the ACRES conference brings issues related to rural special education program design and pedagogical needs to the forefront. In 2017, the conference will convene at the beautiful Crown Plaza Resort in Asheville, North Carolina, March 8-11. This will be their 36th conference. Currently, ACRES is accepting proposals for panel discussions and lecture topics that meet their primary goals of teacher education and network support for rural educators and rural special education programs.
5.) World Congress on Special Needs Education, 2017
From August 15-18, the congress will convene at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA. Because WCSNE seeks to address questions of policy development, pedagogical approaches to special education programs, and the needs of students, educators, teaching students, and assistants in the field, it’s a conference for everyone. Often, a diverse mix of professions is also present at the conference panel discussions—librarians, educators, and individuals with interests that embrace a host of cross-disciplinary interests come together to discuss and explore the complex world of special education.
While the field of special education is growing in both depth of understanding and breadth of focus, it’s important to remember that teachers and policy makers are not acting in isolation. In general, conferences and conventions serve an important function, which is to bring together those with a common interest who might not ordinarily interact. In particular, special education conferences provide educators, administrators, and individuals pursuing a teaching degree with a forum in which they can freely discuss the needs of their professions and their students with others who can identify, thus also meeting a psychosocial need for the educators themselves.