Meeting the Collaboration Challenge

Collaboration is critical to the survival of any teacher, especially exceptional educators. Collaboration is also vital to the success of all students – and even more so for our exceptional students with their various and unique needs.

When talking with fellow educators, I’ve noticed that there is a trend of concern regarding collaboration. For example, how does the Special Education referral team in your school collaborate between special education staff and general education staff? How are 504s communicated to teachers? What supports are given by exceptional educators to general educators to help the general education teacher support their exceptional learners?

My school is unique in that it is a special education day school for students with disabilities. As such, we use interdisciplinary team meetings to get teachers together from a cross section of disciplines that serve a specific grade level. For example, I am on the Tigers team, which primarily serves tenth graders. 

At our meetings, we discuss academic and social/behavioral/emotional concerns of our students. We have the opportunity to update everyone on the IEP status of our caseloads, express any concerns, and problem-solve as a team. This really helps foster a culture of collaboration. Additionally, every Wednesday, the entire school gets together for a 45-minute update meeting in which the most pressing student concerns are shared with the entire staff and any important student updates are given so we are all on the same page.

And when all else fails, I’ve found it helpful to check out some of the resources CEC offers on a variety of topics that support collaborative cultures.

What are some strategies your school employs to foster collaboration? What frustrations do you have with the current or lack of current system? 

Check out the latest post on the CECommunity all-member forum to join in on the discussion!

Richard Williams is a special education teacher for students with emotional and behavioral disorders (EBD). Williams has worked in general education schools in self-contained EBD classrooms and two special education centers for students with severe EBD. He has a master’s in special education from Clark Atlanta University and is currently working towards a doctorate in special education from Cappella University with a focus on students with EBD, transition plans, and preparations for post-secondary life. An active CEC member, Williams has been a Reality 101 blogger as well as a member of the Yes I Can and Diversity Committees. Outside of the classroom, he is a plant-based lifestyle and animal rights advocate who runs a blog of book reviews and current events. In his spare time, he loves to read and go on hikes with his dog.

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