For special education teachers, collaboration can improve instruction

Posted on Wednesday, 3/6/2013 5:52 pm

While every student learns differently, some individuals struggle with mental, emotional, learning or physical disabilities that make school difficult for them. For these students, working with special education teachers can be a big help, as these professionals are trained to make sure instruction is delivered to kids in a way that addresses their unique learning needs. 

Although special education instructors possess the training and experience to work with specific students, they do not always have the answers to every problem, or even the best approaches to teaching a certain subject. This is when collaboration with other special education instructors and general education teachers, whether in person or through the use of faculty software, can lead to positive results.

The power of collaboration
No matter what type of teacher someone may be, he or she has a network of fellow educators who may be willing to help when instructional problems arise.

For example, a special education teacher may have difficulty finding ways to engage a student with an emotional disorder. Rather than continuing on with strategies that are not working, or throwing in the towel altogether, the instructor could turn to a fellow special education teacher for advice. Perhaps this individual has encountered a similar problem and can share a solution. Furthermore, the internet has made it possible for educators to connect with others in their line of work several states away so that they are no longer dependent on those working in their area alone.

Collaboration strategies
There are many ways for special education teachers to find new ways of reaching their students. Establishing a professional learning community is one approach that can yield professional development opportunities for all involved. According to Education.com, these learning communities are comprised of educators who work together to analyze the practices used in their classrooms with the goal of improving conditions. In some cases, schools may set aside time during the school day for teachers to get together and discuss classroom strategies or go over lesson plans as a group.

Meanwhile, Don Johnston Incorporated, a producer of assistive technology for students with learning disabilities, suggests special education teachers and general education instructors discuss one another's strengths and weaknesses. Through discussion, these professionals could learn about approaches to instruction they were unfamiliar with. For instance, special education teachers may not know about the types of projects general education instructors use to deliver learning to a specific grade level.

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