Collaboration models for general ed and special ed teachers

teachersSpecial education and general education teachers may need models for collaborating in order to effectively work together on how to best teach students with disabilities, says a recent study in Preventing School Failure. But if they have philosophical differences about educating students with disabilities, even a framework for collaboration may be insufficient, write the researchers.

“It is difficult for teachers to collaboratively plan effective accommodations and adaptations if they lack skills for collaborating and solving problems,” the researchers write.

“Not all teachers share philosophies concerning students with disabilities. Teacher-preparation and professional-development programs should equip teachers with skills for addressing philosophical differences.”

In a small study, 6 pairs of elementary teachers from 5 elementary schools in a large western U.S. state, followed a collaboration model (the CRIME model) in planning adaptations and accommodations for students with disabilities. Under the CRIME model model, teachers analyze their classrooms and compare their classroom practices and environments in relation to students’ profiles.

The 4 steps of the model are:

  • Evaluate the curriculum, rules, instruction, materials, and environment of the general education classroom
  • List the student’s learning and behavioral strengths and limitations
  • Compare the classroom environment with the student’s profile to identify learning facilitators and barriers
  • Plan adaptations and accommodations that will facilitate learning and mitigate the effect of learning barriers.

The researchers report that 4 out of the 6 pairs of teachers completed the process in their planning for students. Researchers met with teachers twice, once to train them in the use of CRIME and once to question them about the experience of using it.

Differences between the teachers surfaced over perceptions of each other’s learning environments and over the students’ classroom behavior. Whether teachers were able to work around their differences and jointly define the issues to be resolved was influenced by whether or not they shared a common philosophy.

“An important aspect of successful collaboration in this experience (in terms of completing all four steps together) was the teachers’ needing to have the same perspective about disabilities to agree about the problems that needed to be addressed,” the researchers write.

“Educators’ Perceptions of Collaborative Planning Processes for Students With Disabilities,” by Nari Carter et al., Preventing School Failure, Fall 2009, pps. 60-70.

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