The challenge is to build collaborative relationships between general educators and special educators as more and more emphasis is put on inclusion and keeping children in their neighborhood schools. We have placed so much importance on quiet classrooms and quiet halls, that the often disruptive presence of children who receive special education services cause their general classroom teachers serious anxiety. You not only provide services for children with IEP's, you support them in their general education classroom as a special educator. Here are some suggestions for successful communication and collaboration. Start from the beginning: Find out what each child's general education teacher needs to be successful, how often you need to communicate (morning and afternoon, or only one or the other. Be sure your teacher has each child's IEP. Schedule an appointment and review the child's goals and specially designed instruction. Find out what you need to get for the teacher so that he or she can follow through on the specially designed instruction. Discuss who is responsible for enforcing what part of the plan in case the child has a behavior plan. Discuss the means: learning contracts, reward systems, point systems, or other means of teaching replacement behaviors. 

General education teachers

 

            Touch base with students on your caseload: Middle school and high school will undoubtedly make your homeroom class your home base. Try to arrange an afternoon as well as morning period, so you can check assignment books, find out how things went during the day and any special challenges.  Try to arrange a spot in the corner of one of the classes you serve where you can check homework each morning, check for lost teeth, hear stories about new cats, all the things they would want to tell you during instructional periods with elementary school students. It will keep you touch with your student's needs and what they are struggling with in their classrooms. Adapt homework for the students in your caseload: Homework can be a real sticking point for general education teachers. Be sure that you remind a general education teacher what the purpose of homework is: to practice skills already taught. You may also want to negotiate how much homework your students do. Ask a teacher how long they expect a student to work on their class each night.  Create alternate assignments that review the skill but will only take that student 20 minutes in case they say such a period of time. Make sure you let the teacher know the depth of your appreciation when your students succeed in the general education classroom.  Take a picture of the child with the teacher and the project, the math paper, the spelling test, then print it and hang it near your desk: give one to the teacher and the student (I love my digital camera!). At the last place but also very important, is to say thank you many times in order to show your great impressions.