Saturday, August 8, 2015

#SPEDChatSaturday- Together We are Better

Good morning everyone! Welcome to #SPEDChatSaturday. Today I'm host our topic on Together is Better- Special Education and General Education. We're talking all about communicating and collaborating with General Education Teachers.

How are your mainstream/inclusion placements decided? At my school, that is left up to me to approach and talk to the general education teachers. Since I have been on this campus for the past 15 years, I have a pretty good feel for the teachers on the campus and who would be the best match for our students. 

During my initial meeting with each teacher, I give them a Confidential Mainstream Notebook for each student placed in their class. 

This notebook contains the following: 
An opening letter
IEP at a Glance
General Guidelines for Mainstreaming with Deaf/Hard of Hearing Students

I fill out a student summary sheet for each of my students. It's a quick way for the general education teacher to get to know the student that will be coming to their class. I like to include a picture of each student. Sometimes our teachers "know" who are kids are on campus, but this allows them to connect their face to their name.

I am excited to use these new IEP reminder post-it notes this year. It will be easy for the general education teacher to remove them from the notebook and place the sticky note onto their own calendar. It's quick and simple. The same with a teacher contact post-it. The general education teacher can place this near their phone for easy reference. I just uploaded these post-it notes to TpT as a freebie. Go download them and get ready for the new school year. There is also a template page included for you to create your own post-it notes to print.  

I also include guidelines for mainstreaming with Deaf/Hard of Hearing students. This is especially important reminders for teachers that have never mainstreamed before. I would suggest including general information on your population of students you work with.
This first meeting is usually a very brief as I recognize everyone is crazy busy before school starts. After I go through the student's needs and concerns, I schedule a follow-up meeting with the general education teacher to go into more detail after the first few weeks of school.

 Email is a special education teacher's friend! It's so hard to track down teacher's after school. I feel like I waste so much time looking for teachers. Scheduling a time to meet or at least emailing a teacher ahead of time that you'll be stopping will save so much time. 

My students each have at least 15 minutes a month of general education consult time written into their IEP. I try and schedule time to meet with at least one or two general education teachers a week. (Remember, I have 1st-6th grade... which is a lot of teachers to communicate with.) That way I have touched base with each teacher once a month. Sometimes this happens more often if there are issues, but we know how that goes. A lot of time is spent figuring out changes in schedules and trouble shooting equipment.

What do you find works best for you when it comes to ongoing communication with the general education teachers you work with?

 Collaborating with the general education teachers we work with is key! We have to be willing to go above and beyond to be apart of the team and make sure all of the needs of our students are met.  So what does this look like for you? For me, it varies from year to year, needs of my students, and time I have available.

  • Co-Teach or Teach a Small Group 
One year I had a student who was really struggling with reading and needed more intervention. I was able to go into the general education classroom for an hour a day a teach a reading group. This allowed the general education teacher to split her class into two groups and rotate the students. It also gave me a chance to really see my student in action during reading and give her support without pulling her out of the general ed class. It was a win-win for both gen ed and I. 
Some years I am able to leave my Special Day Class to go teach sign language to the general education classes we mainstream with. The students love it! It helps bridge the communication gap and it gives the general education teacher 30 minutes a week of prep time. 
  • Modify the Curriculum and Share
If you are modifying something for your student in the general education classroom, share that with the teacher. They probably have a student or two that could also use that same lesson in a modified format. One year I taught a modified writing group for some struggling writers from the gen ed class and my student. My student was able to be with her peers and get the specific instruction she needed, but it also helped the other students in that group.
  • Provide Extra Staff
We all recognize how large the general education class numbers have grown over the years. Some of our upper grade classes have 36 kids in them! Those are crazy numbers! When our sign language interpreters are not busy and our deaf/hard of hearing students are doing independent work, they assist the general education teacher. They grade papers, file, etc. I always talk to the gen ed teacher ahead of time and let them know that my student is that staff member's priority. But if they are working independently, it's okay for them to assist. Most teachers are very appreciative of the extra set of hands and like the assistance. 
  • Provide Supplies
I always ask if there is something that I can provide for the general education classroom. Sometimes my kiddos are one extra number that the teacher did not plan for when purchasing supplies. Every little bit helps and shows the general education teacher that you are a team. For one of my classes I take pictures each year for a special project. I crop, blow them up larger and print them for the teacher. It's one less thing she has to worry about and I'm happy to help. Any thing extra you can help with is always appreciated.

The only way we can educate the whole child is to do it all together as a team. That means we as special education teachers need to go the extra distance, do the extras, spend more time, be more flexible and put ourselves out there more. Our work is never done! But our students are the ones who benefit from this team approach. They are worth it!

I'd love to hear about how you communicate and collaborate with the general education teachers you work with. Link up below. 


  1. Love your folder you hand out! We usually go a quick powerpoint presentation with all the teachers that get our kids for that year...general guidelines, what to expect, working with an interpreter, etc. :)

    1. Thanks Megan. Thanks for catching the reply and linking up. Although I must have done the linky wrong... I can't see them here on my blog. =(


  2. KELLY!!! I LOVED your periscope about this topic!!!!! So sad that I missed it live, but I caught it on replay.. I had so many Why didn't I think of that moments!!! Thank you for sharing! VERY HELPFUL!!

    1. Thanks Heather! I'm glad you found it useful.


  3. Kelly,
    Your folder and guidelines are so fantastic! You have officially inspired me to put something more formal together. Thank you for sharing!! :)