Sunday, September 21, 2014

GenEd and SpecEd Communication

Collaborative Teaching: Bridging the Gap Between General and Special Education Instruction

Communication during busy schools days is vital and tricky. As GenEd and SpecEd collaborate in a class, both experts are gleaning information from their specific perspectives. These two views can reap a bountiful harvest of success for all the students. The expertise combines, forming a living, thriving academic experience. 

GenEd Keeping records--so valuable! Every classroom teacher keeps attendance, grades, and discipline records, which are communicated to the office and to the parents. But when do the Special Education teachers become aware of this important information? The office and the teachers together need to formulate a system so the Special Education teacher, who is a prime liason to the parents, has timely information about the students. Discipline, in particular, needs to be communicated to the SecEd teacher immediately. Your records will be important input at IEP meetings when discussing current academic performance. Have a hard copy for the SpecEd teacher's file and the parents.

SpecEd Keeping records--so valuable! No matter the grade, there frequently are students that may have an unidentified learning disability, emotional disability, or physical ailment that a SpecEd teacher may help pinpoint. That could lead to the Special Education process, or the School Nurse. The expectation is for all students to succeed, and when there are bumps in the learning road, having other experts in the class can help smooth things out. 

When parents contact the teacher--whether GenEd or SpecEd--let the other teacher know what's up. Have each other's back. Be supportive of parents together. If it seems serious, include the administration or District level SpecEd staff in on it. The IEP team is called a team for a reason. We all play for the same side, our goal being success for the student.

Schedules--SpecEd needs to develop an efficient system of scheduling so all members of the IEP team have a heads up when the meetings will be. Special Education is very fluid, and this scheduling information can change quickly. Flexibility is the name of the game. But most SELPAs and Districts give a general list to each teacher, so there are initial expectations of annual and triennual IEPs. There can be addendums and behavior plans added any time. The communication to parents is formulated, but communication to teachers, other professionals involved with the student, and admin needs to be most likely more than one method. I suggest email as well as hard copy in schoolsite teacher/admin boxes, ponied to the district, or mailed to other support staff. Don't make them guess. If meetings are cancelled, the same process or a phone call. all of our time is so very valuable, it is important to be sensitive to that.

Be nice, be thoughtful. You don't have to be best friends to collaborate, but you do really need to be professional. Teaching is very demanding, and teaching Special Education in any scenario is somewhat more complicated. So, SpecEd teacher, remember that GenEd teacher's work just got a lot more complicated with your students on their classlist and you in their class collaborating. And GenEd teacher, understand the SpecEd teacher's job is very complex, and he/she now needs to handle you, too. Be courteous, the kids are glad to see that. Be flexible, it takes time to find a rhythm. Be honest. Take time to communicate what can be better, or just different. If you feel like a Grumpy Cat some days, tell each other, be a support. You're only human, even if you're being asked to perform as a Superhuman every day.

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