OCALI’s Guide to Summer Professional Learning

'Summer' written with Scrabble tiles in the sand

The sun is shining. Trees and flowers are in full bloom and the school year is winding down.

Yes, summer is just around the corner. And for many educators and other professionals, we share the giddy excitement of most school kids at this time of year.

While you may be planning your next vacation or just ready to enjoy a more relaxed schedule, summer is a great time to invest in yourself and your professional growth. Whether you’re an educator, administrator, community leader, etc., professional learning provides the opportunity to gain knowledge and learn new skills that will improve your job performance and that of your team.

Professional learning comes in many forms—from reading a book or taking an online class on your own, or participating in a professional learning community (PLC) with colleagues or other professionals who share an interest on a particular topic. Whether it’s face-to-face or virtually, connecting with others is a great way to share ideas and explore different perspectives.

For people with disabilities and those supporting them—families, educators, caregivers, service providers, and others—it is essential to have the latest knowledge, skills, resources, and tools to ensure they can live their best lives for their whole lives. For more than 13 years, OCALI has been a trusted source of providing high quality research, resources, and training designed to inspire change and promote access for people with disabilities.

As you consider your professional learning plans—for yourself or your teams—OCALI staff members have compiled a variety of recommended resources, along with some personal tips to get you started.

Featured Resources

ASD Strategies in Action

ASD Strategies in Action gives families and service providers tools to ensure they are equipped to effectively care for, support, educate, employ, or work with individuals on the autism spectrum from early childhood to young adulthood. This program offers real-life, comprehensive, evidence-based strategies. All courses provide online, easy-to-use, video-based instruction filmed in natural settings and feature perspectives of people on the autism spectrum.

Assistive Technology Internet Modules

The Assistive Technology Internet Modules (ATIM) are designed to provide high-quality information and professional development on assistive technology (AT) for educators, professionals, families, persons with disabilities, and others. Each module guides you through case studies, instructional videos, pre- and post-assessments, a glossary, and much more. ATIM modules are available at no cost. Fee-based professional development certificates and graduate credit hours are now available and continuing education credits are coming soon.

Family Resources

The Family Center Resource Gallery provides a variety of resources in different formats to support families with a loved one with autism. Resources include a basic introduction to autism, guide to Ohio resources, building social skills, and learning from others.

Transition Resources

Creating successful support systems that incorporate community living and employment are essential for the successful and unique transition of individuals with disabilities. The What Works for Work and Transition Guidelines: Employment and Youth with ASD resources highlight the importance of planning for transition to employment and why it is important to include transition professionals and supports that will be in a student’s future adult life.

Universal Design for Learning Resources

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is an approach to designing educational environments and products so they can be used by the widest range of students without adaptation. Check out the extensive collection of UDL webinars and books from the OCALI Lending Library on a variety of topics, including: growth mindset, co-teaching or planning, Specially Designed Instruction (SDI), implementation science, family engagement, and more.  

OCALI Lending Library

Like a traditional library, the OCALI Lending Library offers thousands of free materials, resources, and technology on a range of topics—from transition to social-emotional development, evidence-based practices, and more that are applicable to various disabilities and for all ages—from early childhood to adulthood. Summer is a great time to borrow materials on a short or long-term basis. And, the materials are shipped directly at no charge. Explore our Lending Library.

Tips From OCALI Staff 

  • “Create a measurable goal for summer learning—something that is meaningful and doable for you. Monitoring your personal progress can be satisfying and motivating.”
    Chris Filler, Lifespan Transitions Center
  • “Take time every day to learn something new and reserve time to practice and work it into your everyday life. Make it real through practicing and modeling.”
    Ron Rogers, Universal Design for Learning Center
  • “Enjoy your summer, but participate in something that will deepen your knowledge.  Consider reading a new book and answering guiding questions from the many book studies available to enhance your understanding of autism. Summer is a great time to read a book to engage in professional learning because there is no time limit.”
    Amy Bixler Coffin, Autism Center
  • “It is important to enjoy your summer with your family and not go overboard in your professional learning. Find time to educate yourself, but set a schedule that works for you and your family.”
    Jen Bavry, Family and Community Outreach Center
  • “Start early so you can break your learning up into shorter, manageable learning sessions.”
    Carly McVey, Autism Certification Center