Working with Special Education Teachers

Differentiation is a big word in the world of education. But what does this mean? In a nutshell, this “big word” means you are thinking of all of your students’ individual needs as well as the needs of the whole group. Differentiation is the process all teachers go through with all of their students but especially their special needs students. When you work with special needs students, you get to work with special needs education teachers. How can you do this without a hiccup? Follow the guide below for tips to seamlessly work with special education teachers.

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Tip #1: Communicate 

When you have a special needs student in your classroom, one of the biggest things you will need to do is communicate. You will want to make sure you are communicating with: 

  • The student
  • The special needs teacher
  • The parents 

Communicating with everyone involved in the student’s education is going to be vital because it will allow to get the most help. Having a good relationship with all of your students, special needs or not, is vital for seamless teaching and success. If your special needs teacher knows what you are doing in the classroom, they can help support that. When the student’s parents know what is going on in the classroom (academics and behavior) they can help support you at home. With all of that support, the student is set-up for some amazing academic success. 

Tip #2: Making Moments Meaningful 

Another great way to make sure you have a great relationship with your special needs teacher is to ensure you are making moments in the classroom meaningful. If you have a student who struggles with comprehension and you expect him/her to just sit and read for a sustained amount of time, you’re going to be very disappointed and the special needs teacher isn’t going to be benefitting from this time either.

However, adding reading response sheets to independent reading time can be a game changer. This not only holds the student accountable and helps them get more out of their reading, it can also be a great “artifact” to use for meetings. Artifacts include anything that you can bring to a meeting that shows what the student is doing well and what needs to be worked on.  

Tip #3: Think Whole Brain 

Along with making time meaningful in the classroom, you can also work at targeting the whole brain in your lessons. When you use whole brain teaching, you can work with the whole class or you can use it in small groups as well.

This can be very beneficial to special needs students and helpful for the special needs teacher because it targets several different learning styles. Teaching to several learning styles can be very helpful for all students. It provides good evidence as to what works for the student with special needs as well. 

Tip #4: Organize 

One of the hardest things about teaching can be staying organized. A lot of teacher stress comes from this one “simple” task. When you are working with special needs students, you want to keep everything that you have done to differentiate instruction as well as a record of what worked and what didn’t. you will also want to keep track of times you have contacted parents, how you have modified lessons or tests, and literally anything else you might do.

Having everything organized will not only make your life easy, it will make you a rock star to the special needs teacher. You can organize your special need student’s information by: 

  • Having a binder for the student that includes: 
    • An information page that has the student’s modifications listed. 
    • A communication log 
    • A modification tab 
    • An artifacts section. 
  • Using Google Drive to communicate with the special needs teacher 
  • Planning a quick weekly meeting with the special needs teacher (this can be very difficult is time is incredibly short) 

While organization can be tricky, it is a great way to make sure your special needs teacher is getting what they need when they need it. Organization can also help you keep track of what modifications need to be in place. 

Tip #5: Document 

No matter what you do in the classroom, the most important thing you can do is document everything. If there is a loud noise and there is no response from the student with special needs write that down; if the student jumps and carries on for hours, document that too.

When you write down what works, what doesn’t work, what disrupts, and what doesn’t bother, you are giving the special education teacher a gift. Giving the special needs teacher all of the ins and outs of the student’s academic and behavior information can make all the difference in the special needs world. 

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Having a great relationship with your special needs teacher is incredibly important. Not only because they can be very helpful to you, but because you both have the same goal in mind: the success of the student. Follow these tips to seamlessly work with your special needs teacher. You will be glad you did! 

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