Collaborating With Other Professionals

Special education teachers often collaborate with many other professionals to ensure that their students have their needs met and a fulfilling educational experience. Those seeking a special education degree should be prepared to share knowledge, skills, and expertise with each other as well as other education professionals. How many and the type of other professionals varies by school district and the nature of the student's disability. Many special education teachers, at least, work with other teachers, teacher's assistants, and school administrators on a regular basis. Other potential collaborators include physical therapists, occupational therapists, school psychologists, social workers, and assistive technology practitioners or specialists.

Thus, a student with cerebral palsy, for example, often needs both physical and occupational therapy in addition to working with one or more special education or general education teachers. Physical therapy helps students with cerebral palsy strengthen the muscles in his or her legs and trunk and improves balance, while an occupational therapist helps such students develop fine motor skills. Therapists, including psychologists and psychiatrists, can work in conjunction with special education teachers to help students with behavioral challenges and psychiatric problems. Speech pathologists help with communication skills, and work with teachers to fully understand the student's disability and progress. Autism specialists can assist special education teachers in structuring classrooms that would be effective for autistic students.

Collaboration becomes especially important when special education students are a part of a general education classroom. For each special education student in a general education classroom, a special education teacher must collaborate and coordinate the work of teachers, teacher’s assistants, and others to ensure that the student receives the attention he or she needs to fully realize his or her potential and succeed in the classroom. Collaboration is also key when developing each special education student's IEP.

Last Updated: 05/07/2014


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