Career Advice: Collaborating with Special Education Teachers
Suzanne Tingley on working with special education teachers to implement individual education programs.
- Grades: PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8
Q | I’m struggling with our support facilitation model. What are some strategies for collaboration?
A | First, to define the model: Basically, support facilitation allows the special education teacher (the facilitator) to work closely with the regular education teacher to better meet the needs of students with individual education programs (IEPs). Facilitators help teachers implement the requirements of each student’s plan, but they can support or provide instruction to all students.
Now, to the issue at hand. You worry about sharing control of your classroom but you recognize the need for collaboration. For the two of you to work well together, your roles must be clearly defined. The classroom teacher selects the curriculum and materials and develops daily lesson plans. Homework policies, discipline policies, evaluation of student progress—all are the responsibility of the classroom teacher. The facilitator’s job is to support students within the classroom teacher’s program.
Direct communication between you and the facilitator is essential; so is a plan that indicates what each of you will do on any given day. If the two of you can meet weekly to review and plan, your time together will be less frustrating and more productive for both of you.
Your reluctance to give up what you perceive as control of your classroom is understandable. But knowing how to work cooperatively with others for your students’ benefit makes you a more effective teacher.
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Suzanne Tingley is a former teacher, principal, superintendent, and education professor. Her Practical Leadership blog can be found at scholastic.com/administrator.