Tips for Partnering with General Education Teachers

Special Education: Working with general education teachers

As special education teachers, it's important that we work closely with general education teachers to ensure that our students are successful when they are in the general education classroom.

However, this can sometimes be difficult due to a variety of reasons like. I truly believe that the most important aspects of partnering with general education teachers are: building relationships, having open communication and sharing information about students with the teachers. If you can do these things well, then you are most likely going to be able to work together well to meet all students' needs.

Special Education: Working with general education teachers

Before the school year starts:
-Schedule time to meet with general education teachers to discuss caseloads and groups of students that they will have.

-Put yourself in the general education shoes and think, "What would I want to know about this student ahead of time?"
Special Education: Working with general education teachers

-You'll want to share and explain students' IEP and important information with gen ed teachers. Make sure that you focus on the parts of the IEP that are most important to gen ed teachers, like: accommodations, modifications, behavioral supports and what they're working on academically, socially, etc. It might be helpful to give teachers a one page print out/ explanation of these things in addition to a copy of the IEP.

-You can use this free and editable "All About Me" template to create a simple one pager for general education teachers.
Special Education: Working with general education teachers

If the school year has already started and you haven't been able to do some of these, you can obviously catch up and do these at any time in the year! But I suggest doing them as early on in the year or before school starts, if possible!

During the school year:
-If you have students who go to general education classes without support or with a paraprofessional, then ask  your administration to hire a sub or cover your classroom for an hour so that you can go to the to do observations once a month or every other month. This is really helpful if you have a student who is struggling with something in the general ed classroom because then you can see first hand what is going on and then support the teacher and give the teacher and/or paraprofessional tips and ideas on how to work through it. You can also jump in and model how to manage the specific situation.

-Schedule weekly/ monthly check-ins with teachers to see how things are going and problem solve. Check-ins don't have to be in person or time consuming, but they are important! You can go as far as scheduling sit-down meetings once a month with general ed teachers to talk about how things are going or you can just send out monthly emails to check in and see if teachers need anything. These check-ins will go a long way in building relationships and problem solving before problems get out of control. If you are going to send out monthly check-in emails, I suggest putting in your calendar for the entire year to remind yourself and to keep yourself accountable!
Special Education: Working with general education teachers

-Invite and include general education teachers in your parent-teacher conferences, home visits, parties, and after school events with parents! They won't be able to come all the time but it will be amazing when they are able to!

-Give general ed teachers treats for their birthday and holidays! You don't have to go spend a ton of money on them, but having your students make or sign a card for them on holidays will make gen ed teachers feel more connected to the student (and you!). Again, that relationship piece is SO important!

Prior to IEP meetings:
-Make sure that you reach out to general ed teachers before IEP meetings about how students are doing in gen ed. It's best for general ed teachers to know what to expect before walking into the meeting and we should obviously be including the general education teacher's input in the IEP.
Here are some questions I normally ask general ed teachers prior to IEP meetings:
  • How is ___ doing in your class?
  • What's going well? Is there anything that isn't going well?
  • Is there anything you'd like ___ to work on in your class?
  • Do you think the amount of time ___ is spending in your class seems appropriate? Do you think there are other times in the school day that __ could be included in your classroom that he/she isn't already? (I'm NOT pre-determining before the IEP meeting here, just trying to get an idea of how the current time is working). 
At the end of the day, it's important that general education teachers feel supported by US so that they are confident in supporting and working with ALL students. If you have any tips for working with general education teachers, leave them in the comments!

Special Education: Working with general education teachers