Thursday, September 17, 2015

Making the Pieces Fit: Collaborating with General Ed Teachers

In a perfect world, general education teachers and special education teachers would have all of the time in the world to collaborate together. We wouldn't have 6 meetings a week during the school day and we would certainly see each other more than a "hey, how's Billy doing?" - "Good!" conversation in the hallway.

I get it. I'm there with you. We're in the same boat. It honestly happens to the best of us. Well, all of us really.
There's so much included in the general ed world that special ed teachers will never understand, and there's so much in the special education world that general ed teachers will never understand. It's quite unfortunate... and I'm sure we end up looking at each other most of the time like Nala and Simba, ya know before they became best friends for life.

But I'm here to tell you that it CAN happen! It is possible to carve out 10-15 minutes a week to meet with your students' general education teacher(s) and it is possible to make it work.
1. Start the school year off right by talking about grade level goals and standards, as well as specific student IEP goals, accommodations, and modifications. Come to this meeting prepared. Talk about your schedules and how they'll merge together, grading, behavior expectations, classroom management, parent-teacher communication... all of those little [yet big] things that make up a classroom. Not only will you be prepared for *almost* anything, but you'll start building a great bond. That's the beginning of merging two into a team of one.
2. Take notice of what the other teacher does well, where they thrive, and what they love teaching. Get to know their teaching style. And just as you assess your student's strengths and weaknesses, do the same of the other teacher... but from an absolutely positive and constructive point of view. You're both teachers and you are both in it for the same outcome [the education of the child].

The best teams complement one another and that's what you need to be for one another in and out of the classroom. Work together and share the workload. You'll be a better team for it.
3. As the special education teacher, go to the grade level team meetings. If you can't go to these meetings, ask the grade level team leader to put a copy of the weekly agenda in your box. Knowing what's going on in the general ed classroom each week will help keep you on top of your game.
4. When either of you holds a parent meeting, ask the other to be there. Or at least ask if they have any input to share with the parent. This lets (1) the other teacher know you're including them in the child's education and (2) it lets the parent know that both teachers are working together for the benefit of their child.

What tips do you have for creating a positive collaborative teaching experience?

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