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.
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.
Also encourage them to ask questions if they have any throughout the school year, and check in with them to see if there is anything you can do to help support them. Most of the time, general education teachers are not aware of the ins and outs of special education requirements and protocols (just like they do things we may not know the ins and outs of). You could even schedule in a time each week to check with the general ed teacher. The more proactive you are about encouraging dialogue, the better your collaborations with the general ed teacher will be.
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.
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.
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.
To take the next step, if you need to submit lesson plans online, ask the regular ed teacher if they will send you their plans each week. For some online planners, there may even be the option to add you to their lesson plans so you can go in a view them at any time.
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.
Entrust the regular education teacher to help you in keeping data on your students. Now before you say, “Nope. Tried it, she won’t do it.” or “HA! Yeah right!” … let me share the easiest way to approach this situation.
Communication stickers. It’s as easy as putting an A+ sticker on a 100% test… and it’s quicker than a stamp and ink pad. You can print all of the stickers for your regular ed teacher, and politely ask that he or she add a sticker to whatever work the child performs in the classroom. It doesn’t need to be anything intense; the teacher could simply use the “Work Completed in Inclusion” sticker. TADAA!
Now the parent knows, too, what work was completed in inclusion… bridging the gap between all 3 parties, making for one complete, cohesive team.
Turn relationships around this school year and make an effort to have positive collaborations with the general ed teachers with whom you share students. Not only will it make things smoother for you and the other teacher, but it will also benefit your students as well. Remember, it all starts with building a relationship based on mutual respect, trust, and open-minds.
What tips do you have for creating a positive teacher collaboration experience? Tell us in the comments below!