Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Roles of Collaboration

Tonight my collaborative grad class is wrapping up. I had always assumed that collaboration is something that came naturally when put in a situation where you need to work with others, but I now realize that collaboration comes with a checklist of ways to prepare to collaborate, the agreements between collaborators and most important, time to do the work.

Tonight she talked about Smart Goals, which would be IEP goals for every student in the school, not just SPED. Smart Goals should be aligned with IEP goals (one in the same) so that every student has a set of goals to work toward. I had always thought that all students should have an educational plan, a map of sorts, to set the road of their learning down so they have something to follow.

I also like the idea of not labeling SPED teachers as SPED teachers, to just call them teachers. After all, the bottom line is that they are teachers who just happen to be trained to work with students who have special needs. For SPED and regular teachers to successfully collaborate in a co-teaching situation, they need to have an administrator that understands collaboration (all parties have agreed, trust and communicate in an agreed way) and the teachers need to be empowered equally in the room. Both should be able to plan, teach and discipline in the class room.

How do you get support from administration? Ask, be prepared with data and a plan, offer to pilot the program, get permission to ask for help, agree on the communication that will be used, set the example for others to want to follow, understand that there are sometimes other things going on behind the scenes that you may not be privy to and could affect the collaboration effort, and actively participate in the opportunities afforded during meetings.

A collaborative group needs to understand the needs of others, related services, how to collaborate with these services, time issues and each person's role in the group. Do you know what related services are in your building? I know I don't know all the related services in our building that are available to assist special needs in our building. I know we have a person that helps students with vision issues, we have a math tutor, we have a reading specialist, etc but I don't know what it is each of these persons can offer. I feel that puts me at a disadvantage in the building when trying to assist students in my classroom.

The major goal of collaboration is because whatever goal you are trying to accomplish "is important". Something that is important, something that needs to be done right, needs to be collaborated on. Each party has an invested interest in accomplishing the goal because it is important. Giving parents practice sheets to take home with their preschoolers to support their motor skills can help prepare them when they enter school. Parents will participate because it is important. The class room teacher talks to the speech therapist about how to detect muscle issues that may affect speech. The teacher will participate because it is important. Specialists can visit class rooms to observe students as they work and assist any student with any issue. The specialist will participate because it is important.

Something said that I liked: Respect, Accept even if you don't Agree

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