General education teachers know that their special education peers are amazing, but there tends to be a divide between the two groups.
While both groups are clearly in the business of education, and both have students’ best interests at heart, they do not always see eye to eye. What causes that rift between the two?
We asked the veteran general education teachers in our Facebook group, Mrs. D’s VIPs, to share some of their thoughts and let special education teachers know what they are really thinking and feeling. The attempt to open dialogue can help strengthen bonds between the two groups of teachers and create a better working relationship for all.
Read below to find out what they had to say and check out their original comments in the group.
What General Ed Teachers Want Special Ed Teachers to Know
Respect Has to Be Mutual
General education teachers know that special education teachers have a lot on their plates and are responsible for a lot of planning, instruction, and evaluations. While the planning and assessments may look different, general education teachers have an equally overwhelming task load. Respect has to be mutual, with both sides recognizing that the other works hard. There has to be cooperation and respect for things to be successful.
Specific Suggestions are Needed
Special education teachers have specific training and knowledge in areas that general ed teachers do not. When general education teachers are asked to support special ed students, they need their co-workers’ expertise. Specific suggestions of what to do and how to do it help guide those general ed teachers who are not sure where to begin supporting their students. Do not be afraid to share your special education knowledge!
Along with having respect, patience is another essential part of the working relationship between special and general education teachers. Remember that general ed teachers have 20-30 students who need them constantly. Be patient. It is always okay to send a gentle reminder if things are needed from them, but practice patience and be understanding.
Many of Us Are Dual-Certified
While there can still be a great divide between general and special education teachers, the trend has been that more and more gen ed teachers are returning to school to get their special education certifications. While you may not know that your colleague is dual-certified, there is a good chance that he or she is.
In fact, teachers expressed that they feel the line between special education professionals and general education teachers is fading. With many students in general ed having issues with behavior, attention, social situations, and sensory processing, teachers are seeking out more training than ever before to become skilled in handling these situations.
The result is that teachers are becoming even more well-rounded as they learn new behavior management strategies, how to implement accommodations and make modifications, and manage their
classrooms with a trauma-informed approach to address social and emotional needs.
We’re Really Trying
Above all, general education teachers want special education teachers to know that they are really trying. They are trying to meet the needs of every student in their classroom – those who have IEPs, as well as those who do not. They are trying to keep up with paperwork and reporting to help you provide the documentation you need. They are trying to do the best that they can with limited supports in place. Just like you, general education teachers are trying their best to provide an amazing education for their students.
The most important thing to remember is that both groups, general education and special
education teachers, have the students’ best interests at heart. They are both there to help
students succeed. Leaning on one another for support and help is not a bad thing; it is how the
best of teams work.
If you’re a general ed teacher, what would you like special ed teachers to know? Share with us below!