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Let's address the gigantic elephant in the room. We don't talk enough and, quite frankly, a lot of times it seems that we just don't get along. You just want to teach and I just want to follow my IEPs. We do have something in common, though. We both want all of our students to learn and grow. I'm certain that's true because we're all responsible for these children. In order for that to happen, we need each other.
Why do special educators and general educators need each other? Well, we have been trained in two entirely different specialities. I specialize in assessments and adaptation of curriculum while you specialize in the content. Together, we can provide students in appropriate homework and classwork assignments that challenge the learning of the individual student and enable each student to participate in the learning process to the best of his or her ability.
Let's face it, class sizes keep getting larger and the curriculum doesn't get any less complicated, so meeting individual needs without collaboration simply cannot happen. Our jobs actually get easier when we put our heads together and come up with strategies together if we can learn how to collaborate effectively.
Here are some tips that special educators and general educators can use during collaboration:
- Establish who takes what role during the meeting. Who will keep time? Who sets the agenda? Most importantly, who brings food?
- Make sure there's an agenda! No one likes to waste time, especially these days. Set a clear purpose for the meeting and stick to the plan. Just don't put too much on the list to get done. Make sure you can accomplish the items on the agenda in the amount of time set for the meeting.
- Be prepared for the meeting. Whoever sets the agenda needs to email everyone else to let them know what's on the agenda so that they can come prepared for the meeting. This might include bringing lesson plans, reading an article, bringing work samples, or bringing curriculum materials. Make sure that you're ready to talk about whatever you're supposed to bring. Again, no one likes to waste time.
- Open minds. When collaborating, everyone at the table should remain open to change and new ideas. The purpose of collaboration is for everyone to learn something new, so having an open mind helps.
So, yeah, we need each other, you and I. We should collaborate more. It's like I tell the students in that one collaborative group that just don't want to talk to each other. Two heads are better than one and three heads--magnificent! Working together for the needs of our students to ensure their growth while making sure their individual needs get met is not just important, it's an absolute necessity. Let's try it sometime.
How Do You Find Ways to Collaborate With Colleagues?