Special education teachers must collaborate with general education teachers in order to program effectively for students. Collaboration and communication are key.
The purpose of special education is to provide specialized instruction to students in the area of his or her disability. Too many times the resource room is used as tutoring for the completion of work from the general education classroom. This work can and should be used to enhance this instruction, but should not be the only service students receive. For example, if a child is found to have a learning disability in the area of reading comprehension, specialized instruction in comprehension should be provided. If work from the general education classroom enhances this instruction, it should be incorporated, but it should not be the ONLY instruction the child receives from the special education teacher.
Collaboration between gen ed and special ed teachers is the only way to ensure this balance of instruction occurs. Special education teachers can facilitate this collaboration by beginning the school year with the following:
- Share information about each student with general education teachers including the classroom teacher and any elective teachers. This information must include accommodations and modifications. Gen ed teachers are responsible for implementing the accommodations and modifications. The special education teacher is a resource for questions and suggestions.
- Determine a schedule that aligns with minutes on the student’s IEP. What are the best times to pull the student out for instruction and what are the best times to push in for instructional support?
- Determine supports the student will need to transition from classroom to classroom. Can the student transition alone or does the student need adult assistance? Ensure that if a child enters back to the gen ed classroom at a time that is not conducive to the general education teacher stopping a lesson and looping the student in, that the student has materials to complete independently until he or she can join in the lesson.
- Discuss the role of paraprofessionals. If a paraprofessional will join the general education classroom to support students, what role will he or she play? What are some classroom norms of which the para should be aware? If the general education teacher has questions or concerns about the para, how should those be addressed?
- Discuss “what-if” scenarios. If a child has disruptive behavior, discuss the student’s behavior intervention plan. How should the teacher react to behavior? What is the plan if the teacher needs assistance? Does the gen ed teacher have the tools needed to support the student when special education staff is not present?
- Collaborate on programming. Determine what activities and materials from the general education classroom will be incorporated in the special education classroom. Share information with the gen ed teacher about specialized instruction that will occur in the special education classroom.
- Determine dates and times to collaborate as the year progresses. Apprise general education teachers that they are part of the student’s IEP team and if concerns arise, how to address those concerns with the IEP team.
Begin the year by opening the lines of communication. When general education teachers and special education teachers communicate and collaborate effectively, students reap the benefits.