Collaborating with Other Professionals

Collaborating with Other Professionals Video

Effective Collaboration

Collaboration is often seen as a tool students use while learning in the classroom. However, collaborating is also important for educators themselves in order to provide students with individualized instruction that focuses on specific goals and a satisfying partnership between parents and schools.

In this video, we will talk about the collaboration that occurs among special educators and between professionals and families, as well as some of the principles of successful partnerships and skills for effective collaboration. Let’s get started!

The purpose of collaboration in education is to facilitate students’ success in the classroom by fostering a sense of equality among members of an inclusive learning community. A collaborative approach is effective in schools because it enables all members of the team to work together to meet the needs of a student. Teachers and service providers can share knowledge about a student as they get to know them, which allows for a more holistic perspective, instead of relying on one person’s knowledge exclusively.

When educators collaborate, it creates opportunities to identify and share effective academic, behavioral, and social-emotional practices, ensuring consistency across all settings. This collaboration can only be successful if schools have concrete systems in place to provide space, guidance, and regulations that facilitate it.

Good collaboration is particularly important when professionals are preparing for and participating in educational meetings. Some examples of educational meetings that teachers might be requested to attend, or even lead, are Individualized Education Plan meetings, family service plan meetings, and parent-teacher conferences. Regardless of the type, all meetings should be scheduled so that there is ample time for equal participation from all parties. It is also helpful to create and share an agenda in advance in order to help each participant be prepared to share their thoughts or concerns effectively.

As special educators are often the primary communicators in the school regarding students with disabilities, it is particularly important that they model the correct behavior and expectations during these meetings, which often involve explaining student data and setting specific goals for students. In an effective meeting, the needs a student has can be explained and the plan for meeting those needs can be established. Plans for supporting students can later be adjusted based on data and observation from all parties. It is helpful for teachers to have spent time building working relationships with professionals and families, as well as a positive rapport with the student, before a meeting takes place, as this is more likely to create a collaborative environment in which everyone feels valued and heard.

Educational Meetings

One of the key principles of IDEA, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, is the importance of collaboration with families in order to promote participation in educational decision-making. Parental rights under IDEA are particularly specific in that they require parents to participate as equal members of their child’s IEP team and to be involved in their child’s evaluation, placement, and related services. In addition to giving informed consent for assessments and sharing important information about their child, parents can also participate in the writing of the IEP.

Partnering with the parents is necessary because the teachers know certain parts of a child’s life and how the education system works, and so forth, while the parents know more about the child’s personal life. Both parties meeting and “comparing notes” can lead to better outcomes for the child. In addition, families tend to feel more comfortable sending their children into the classroom when they have a clear understanding of the goals and feel a shared sense of responsibility.

It is essential that teachers and parents focus on the child’s best interests and use each other’s expertise to implement decisions that will directly benefit the student. It is also essential that the teacher take into account aspects of the student’s background, including language, culture, and family goals.

Successful Partnership with Families

Ann and Rud Turnbull, well-known specialists in the field of special education, have identified seven principles for a successful partnership with families.

The first principle is communication, which is the ability to discuss topics openly and honestly with the family.

The second principle is professional competence. This requires that those who are participating in these conversations be highly qualified in the field which they are representing.

The third principle involves teachers treating families with dignity and respecting cultural differences.

The fourth principle is commitment, necessitating teachers to make themselves available and to exceed expectations when possible.

The fifth principle is equality, which would recognize each member of the child’s team as having the same opportunities to share and suggest support.

The sixth principle is advocacy, requiring that the teacher focus on finding and supporting the best solution for the families.

The seventh principle is trust, which is developed when families feel that the teacher is working in the best interest of their child.

Each principle plays an important role in the partnership process among the special education teacher, the child study team, and the family.

There are a variety of specific strategies that the special educator can employ in order to best support the collaboration among colleagues and families, specifically in IEP meetings. First, identify a facilitator, which might be the same person each time or might alternate. This gives someone the job of setting the agenda and making sure that all members are equally participating. It is essential to come prepared with your own ideas and concrete data to support your points. The special educator should also question what others are bringing to the conversation, both to clarify for understanding and to attempt to determine the specificity of the goals and objectives. As the meeting is coming to its conclusion, a summary of the next steps should be presented, with details of responsibility and deadlines for completion.

When collaboration is done well, all participants benefit. Educators benefit when they are able to work with others who have faced the same challenges, as this can increase efficiency through the sharing of ideas, and reveal a variety of perspectives on data.

When general education teachers, service providers, families, and special education teachers work together, everyone involved will be better prepared to support the student effectively. Most importantly, collaboration keeps the focus where it should be: a strong, supportive, and thorough education plan for the special education student.

I hope you have enjoyed this review! Thanks for watching, and happy studying.

Return to Teaching Special Education Videos



by Mometrix Test Preparation | Last Updated: February 2, 2024