Working with the Teacher
My career has been spent working with children with disabilities. From my years as a speech therapist to the middle school and high school classrooms and as an administrator, I have found that there are a few rules that make children more successful in school.
It has been said that “it takes a village to raise a child”. It is also true that educating a child to reach his/her full potential is the job of many working together toward that goal. In special education this group of individuals is called a multi-disciplinary team. Each member of the team brings special knowledge about the student and his/her unique needs.
It is important to remember that the student is the focus. Personal opinions and feelings should be set aside and all ideas should be heard and considered.
Keep in mind the long range goals set for the student. As the team works together to develop the educational plan, the long range goals should be used as a framework for the development of educational planning. What skills will move the student forward? Will these skills result in maximum independence? How can each member of the multi-disciplinary team contribute toward the development of the essential skills? How can these developing skills be supported across a variety of settings?
Communication is critical. Communication among the team members is required to make sure all are reinforcing the same skills, using the same techniques and speaking the same language. Through the use of email, it is possible to communicate frequently regarding a student and their progress. Problems can be avoided with communication.
Consistency among the team members working with a student enhances a child’s ability to learn and apply new skills. Knowing that the expectations are the same regardless of the setting the child is in will enhance the progress the child is able to achieve.
High expectations are important. Don’t underestimate the skills the child can accomplish. Not expecting a lot from a student will allow them to achieve minimal independence not the total independence that is desired. Don’t do something for a student that they can be taught to do for themselves. We need to remember that the ultimate goal is for the child to become as independent as possible which makes high expectations necessary.
Encourage social skills. All children need the ability to interact with others. It is important that children have friends who are close in age. This allows the student the opportunity to find the behaviors that best fit in with their peers. Many schools have a buddy program that provides opportunities for students to spend time with their same age school mates. This is beneficial to both buddies because we all need to know and understand one another.
One of the most critical team members is the parent. While the educational professionals can develop and support the students educational needs, the parent must be on board with the plans. Encouraging the child to be responsible for chores at home and having the same expectations can allow a student to grow and achieve more quickly. Parents who are partners with the student’s educational team will find their child accomplishing more that they might have thought possible. Each child achieves more when everyone is on the same page.