Administrators have a lot on their plates, but Special Education teachers do too. The key to working together is to create a relationship based on respect and trust.
Sometimes the lines of communication, the very thing that builds those relationships, can get shut down or tangled.
To help administrators understand how to support their special education teachers and create that atmosphere of respect, we asked veteran teachers what they want their admins to know.
Here are the top 10 things special education teachers want admin to know about who they are and how they can be supported.
10 Things Special Ed Teachers Want Admins to Know
1. We need time during the school day to complete paperwork.
Notes, reports, and IEPs all take time to write, and special ed teachers have considerably more paperwork than general ed teachers. We need the time to complete it built into our school week.
Consider allowing us an extended prep period, or a prep period period (since not all of us actually get a planning period!). Not only will it improve morale, but it will also mean more thorough notes and reports can be created to help students get the services they need.
2. Encourage and support your teachers.
Teachers may not teach the same way you would, but it doesn’t mean their methods are invalid. Encourage all of your staff to grow and learn while supporting them in doing just that.
3. Understand that when we’re advocating for our students, we’re not asking for personal favors.
Being a special ed teacher means that most of us wear our hearts on our sleeves. We love our students and know how hard they work and how hard they struggle. Trust your teachers when they tell you that a student needs something to reach his goals.
When we advocate for a child to have assistive technology or other accommodations, we’re not asking because we want you to do us a favor. We’re asking because it’s the right thing to do for our students.
4. Be part of the IEP process.
Put your phone away in the meeting, and look over the information beforehand. Don’t just show up and sign your name.
IEP meetings can be charged, and we all need you to be present and supportive. The parents especially need to know that you are invested as well.
5. One size does not fit all.
What works for one student or teacher does not always work for another. Recognize that even though our caseloads may be small in comparison to a general ed teacher’s, the amount of prep and paperwork we have to do is tenfold. Keep in mind that just as every student needs different things, teachers do too.
6. Less Judgement, More Understanding
We know your job is tough, but ours is too. Be more generous with giving understanding, help, and support instead of judging us.
The more you support us, the more empowered we feel. When you judge us, it makes our jobs even harder. Back us up, show respect, and communicate with us as professionals. We will happily support you if you help us.
7. Don’t pull special ed teachers to sub in general ed classes.
We know we might look like we can handle anything, but when you pull us to substitute for an absent teacher, you’re pulling us away from our students who we’re mandated to work with. Not only does it put us behind, but it also puts our students back as well. Please find another substitute as we need to work with our caseload.
8. Get to know us!
Come say hello and get to know us. We’re hoping for your support, and we want to build a relationship with you. Drop by our classrooms or make a point to say hello when we see each other.
9. If we need support with behavior, it’s because we need a fresh perspective.
We deal with behavior issues in special ed classrooms for as long as we can, but sometimes we need a fresh perspective and a mental break. If we ask for your help, it’s because we really need it. Don’t judge us for asking for assistance, just support us.
10. Train general ed teachers how to be co-teachers – don’t assume they know how to work with us (and vis-versa if needed).
It’s so important for us to be a team to support students’ learning, but many general ed teachers need practice with how to work with special ed teachers. Take the time to train them and help them understand our role and our responsibilities. They are our equals – not our superiors.
What would you want your admin to know about special education and teaching? Tell us about it in the comments below or in our Facebook group, Mrs. D’s VIPs!