Collaboration and Teamwork Are Essential When Working With Special Needs Students

Check out our list of tips for using teamwork when working with special needs students.

Set a time prior to school begins to meet with the special education educator. You might also ask the learner’s educator, school nurse, and counselors from the prior year to join you as you begin to plan to meet the needs of the learners in your class.

Set up a division of responsibilities for the regular education educator and the special education educator. The regular education educator will develop the content. The special needs educator can provide assistance with the strategies, modifications, accommodations, and other requirements that the learner(s) need.

You may also work with a teacher’s assistant or paraeducator in your room, assigned as a “one-on-one” with a learner or a small group. Meet with the special education educator and the paraeducator regularly to collaborate on learner progress. You need to keep communication open at all times. Acting as a team will affect the success of the special needs learner.

Paraeducators are not licensed educators but they have an acute sense of a learner’s habits, likes/dislikes, and personality traits. Respect their knowledge. Work together to impact learner achievement.

Ask the special education educator to teach instructional strategies and techniques that will benefit all learners. Their background training will provide your learners with multiple ways to learn.

Special education educators are adept at implementing new strategies, different programs, and various approaches to assist learners with learning. Remain flexible and adapt to the changes in a learner’s learning process.

Find out if your school has “child study” teams that will meet to bring all of the individuals together to discuss meeting a learner’s needs. If you have the learner in your class, you will be asked for input and documentation on what you have done in your class to meet the learner’s needs.

Child study teams consist of educators teaching the learner, the parent/guardian, and a principal. Once you meet as a child study team, be prepared with evidence of the learner’s performance. Evidence would include test results, a sampling of their work, and other documentation to help tell the story associated with the issue you are reviewing.

Read the learner’s school health records and check attendance. Go to with the counselor and school nurse. If the learner has not had a complete physical, involve the school nurse and seek their advice on school procedures for proposing health physicals for the learner.

Some learners may need to leave their room to take “meds.” The school nurse is the only person who can dispense medication to a learner. Many of the special needs learners are on medication and will need monitoring from you to ensure they receive their medication on time.

Be aware that some parents will pay money to resources outside the school to evaluate their child. If the parent should share this info with you, consider the source and make every attempt to use the information to assist both you and the family in increasing the learner’s academic performance.

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