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Coteaching, Collaborating, and Differentiating Instruction:
Working with Professionals and Families
Chapter 5 focuses on the development of effective communication and collaboration skills for all teachers. Communication and collaboration are essential to successful inclusion. The chapter begins with the challenges and opportunities inherent in inclusive education and the processes involved in adapting materials, instruction, and the environment. The text describes approaches to coteaching and consultant teaching that require the collaborative efforts of special education and classroom teachers in order to meet the diverse needs of students with disabilities while providing effective teaching and learning for all students.
The chapter also examines the role of special education teachers and their responsibilities for communicating and working with other professionals. They need to establish effective working relationships with school administrators and secure their support. Consider the collaboration issues and dilemmas discussed in the chapter and note the suggestions for achieving resolution.
The authors stress the importance of a collaborative relationship with families, paraprofessionals, and administrators. They discuss the importance of valuing the parents of children with special needs, respecting their knowledge of their child, and understanding the role families play in the education and services their children receive.
- Identify some of the challenges of working in inclusive settings.
- Distinguish among the three major models for consultation and collaboration.
- Describe effective practices for differentiating instruction.
- Describe the principles of communication, and give examples of how teachers can communicate effectively with parents and professionals.
- Analyze the special education teacher’s role as a consultant to general education teachers.
- Summarize the teacher’s role in addressing the needs of the entire family.
- What are some of the challenges and opportunities of working in an inclusive classroom and working with general education teachers?
- What are three major models for consultation and collaboration?
- What collaboration issues and dilemmas arise?
- How do teachers plan and implement various approaches to coteaching?
- How is differentiation facilitated in an inclusive classroom? What principles of differentiated instruction are essential for effective application of differentiation?
- What is the role of the special education teacher as a consultant to general education teachers, and what are the considerations and barriers for successful inclusion?
- What are the principles of communication, and how can teachers communicate with parents and professionals?
- What is the teacher’s role in addressing the needs of the family?
KEY TOPICS FOR MASTERY
- Common expectations of general education teachers regarding students with special needs
- Three major models for consultation and collaboration
- Role of the special education teacher within an RTI framework
- Collaboration issues and dilemmas between general education and special education
- How co-teaching works, and the benefits of co-teaching
- Co-planning with general education teachers
- Important competencies for teachers to have when working with paraprofessionals
- Working productively and communicating with parents and fellow professionals to provide effective help for the special education student
- Effective interviewing skills for special education teachers
- Collaboration in an RTI model
- Involving families of students with special needs
- If possible, attend a staff conference to observe ways in which special education teachers work and communicate with families and other professionals. Write a reflection paper describing what you observed and your reactions to the process. Evaluate the collaboration methods you observed. In what ways were they productive and positive?
- Spend a day observing an elementary or secondary inclusive classroom. Write a summary of your observations. How did the teacher collaborate with families and other professionals? How did the teacher manage his or her schedule to meet diverse student needs? How is consistency maintained in the classroom environment?
- Imagine that you have a student who has not responded well to Tier 2 intervention. Suppose that you must conduct a conference to inform the parents that their child might benefit from special education services. How would you facilitate this conversation?
- Describe the collaborative role of the special education teacher in an RTI framework. List collaborative activities special education teachers may engage in to ensure successful intervention.
- Discuss some of the reasons why families may be involved only minimally in the placement and planning process despite the fact that their involvement is guaranteed by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)? How might this situation be remedied?
- Interviews are the key to open communication and effective intervention. Watch an interview on TV (perhaps a talk show or news channel). Evaluate the interview and state whether the interviewer followed the five steps to good interviewing. List examples of the types of questions the interviewer used. What obstacles did the interviewer encounter in conducting the interview?
- Observe various classrooms to see each of the three major models for consultation and collaboration in action. Based on your observations, what are the pros and cons of each? If possible, talk to the teachers and see how their opinion compares to your observations.
- Recall a professional setting or a school assignment that required your collaboration with one or more colleagues or other students. What challenges did you face? How were the challenges resolved? What did you learn about collaboration as a result of the collaborative experience?
THINK AND APPLY
- Why is effective communication important for success as a special education teacher?
- Special education teachers face challenges in their roles as coteachers with general education teachers. Identify keys they should remember to make inclusion work.
- What is collaboration, and what are some ways in which professionals can collaborate effectively?
- What are some of the resources professionals need to collaborate effectively? How might these be obtained?
- What are some of the issues and dilemmas that occur when teachers coteach? How might they be resolved?
- How is collaborating with families and/or paraprofessionals similar to collaborating with general education teachers? How is it different?
- What are some reasons it is important for professionals to collaborate in an RTI model?
- What are the principles of communication that facilitate the communication process with families, teachers, and other professionals?
- What are the steps for conducting an effective interview?
- What are some of the needs of families of children with learning disabilities and behavior problems? What steps can teachers take to meet these needs?
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Bennett, D. J., & Fisch, A. A. (2013). Infusing coteaching into the general education field experience. Interdisciplinary Journal of Teaching & Learning, 3(1), 18-36.
Case-Smith, J., Holland, T., Lane, A., & White, S. (2012). Effect of a coteaching handwriting program for first graders: One-group pretest-posttest design. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 66(4), 396-405.
Conklin, K. P. (2012). Making the case for coteaching – the evidence-based way. Knowledge Quest, 40(4), 46-49.
Hunt, J. H. (2010). Master geometry while coteaching. National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, 16(3), 154-161.