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College of Education holds forum


June 13, 2007

ASU's Mary Lou Fulton College of Education will serve as co-sponsor and host for a forum this month devoted to exploring ways in which special education teachers can develop and support professional learning communities that directly influence the achievement of prekindergarten through 12th-grade students with special needs.

The forum, themed “Strengthening Professional Learning Communities: Mentoring Partnerships for Success,” will take place from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., June 15, in the Education Lecture Hall at ASU's Tempe campus.

The forum is a component of an Arizona Department of Education-funded research project led by Sarup Mathur, a clinical professor of special education and project director, and Martha Cocchiarella, a lecturer in special education. Both are with the Mary Lou Fulton College of Education.

The research team has partnered with the Creighton Elementary and Gilbert and Mesa Unified school districts to determine the specific needs and challenges facing first-year special education teachers. Areas of need identified through the study include:

• Individualized Education Plan (IEP) completion.

• Cultivating increased parental involvement.

• Effective collaboration with general education teachers.

• Classroom management.

“ASU faculty members have provided technical assistance and professional development workshops on these topics since the project's inception in 2005,” Mathur says. “This year, the focus is on the dissemination of information with regard to effective structures within mentorship processes, and how mentoring partnerships assist in strengthening professional learning communities.

“Evaluation data are being collected and will help us in conceptualizing a model for creating professional learning communities for special education teachers.”

The forum will feature a keynote presentation from Elizabeth Kozleski, a professor of special education with the Mary Lou Fulton College of Education. Kozleski is a national expert in the area of systems change, inclusive education and professional development in urban education. Her research interests include teacher learning in urban education, multicultural educational practices in the classroom, and the impact of professional development schools on student and teacher learning.

Before joining ASU in the fall of 2006, Kozleski was a professor and associate dean for research at the University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center (UCDHSC) for 19 years.

The Fulton College joins the Arizona Department of Education and Raising Special Kids, an Arizona-based agency dedicated to serving families and children with disabilities and special health care needs, in co-hosting the forum around the professional community and partnership themes. Additional forum presenters will address the following topics:

• How mentorship strengthens professional learning.

• Development of purposeful partnerships between colleges and universities and local school districts.

• Mentorship programs: what the research says.

• Recruitment and retention of special education teachers.

• Developing mentor-mentee relationships.

• Examples of effective mentorships: local programs.

• Support care for all teachers.

• Parent and professional collaboration.

“Forum participants will learn effective strategies to help with the recruitment and retention of special education teachers, gain exposure to what the research says, and hear local examples of effective mentorship programs,” Cocchiarella says. “They will also have the opportunity to explore effective parent professional collaboration techniques with the experts.”

Pre-registration for the forum is $50, and onsite registration also will be available on the day of the forum for $60 while space is available. The registration fee includes the forum, a box lunch and support materials. Participants also will be eligible to earn up to eight hours of continuing education units.

For more information, or to register, contact Cande Barfuss with the Arizona Department of Education at (602) 542-3184 or cande.barfuss@azed.gov.