TEACHER LEADERSHIP: Improved Communication with the Special Education Team

Introduction

Communication is an important aspect in education especially when dealing with children with special learning needs. It helps special education team to identify, address and meet the needs of these students. The special education team consists of several members including therapists, students, teachers, administrators and teacher’s assistants. Special education programs have been designed to meet learning needs of children difficulties in learning. These programs have adapted use of special instructional method of delivery, teaching methodology, and educational content that meets the relevant needs of these students. Most children who experience difficulties in learning have different types of disabilities including children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), intellectual challenges, orthopedic impairment, language impairment, vision impairment, hearing impairment, and emotional disturbance (Salvia, Ysseldyke, & Witmer, 2012).

The school administration and the special education team do not communicate effectively in the recent years to ensure meet the special learning needs of special education students in classrooms (both general and special education classroom). The purpose of the study is to examine ways that school administration and the special education team communicate to meet the education needs of students with special learning needs. The research question of this paper is how to improve communication between schools and special education team and what is its importance in education? The study consists of both dependent and independent variables, where educational outcomes of students with special learning needs depend on the communication between school administration and special education team. The theoretical framework will be used to guide this study.

 

Review of the Literature

This section reviews literature on effectiveness of corporation between school administration and special education teams to meet learning needs of special education students. The literature also involves a discussion on negative effects of poor communication between school administration and special education team. Additionally, the literature reviews the interaction between therapists and students and teachers to determine the progress of the student and the importance of improved communication on students.

Evidence by Marschark, Shaver, Nagle and Newman (2015) reveals that the school administrators and teachers often fail to communicate with one another to meet the educational needs of their students. It is important for school administration to communicate with teachers on how to achieve better educational outcomes among children with special learning needs when incorporated in general classroom. Similarly, the school administration may fail to comply with education curriculum requirements provided by the State. Failure to comply with the provision of the State means the school administration will not communicate the implementation of the instructional guidelines that are relevant in addressing the special learning needs of students. Additionally, studies by Dunn, Constable, Martins and Cammuso (2016) point out that special education teachers and general teachers experience challenges in working in corporation to support the special needs of students with learning difficulties to meet their learning needs using the curriculum requirements of the general classroom. Miscommunication between general teachers and special education teachers creates difficult situations that cause frustrations both in teachers and students thus generating confusion. Lack of effective communication hinders effective collaboration among teachers, which is an essential tool in enhancing success in the education process.

According to Boys, Bjorke, Dole, Dalnes, Terwey & Chang (2016), team members such as therapists may experience difficulties in attending effectively to students with learning challenges due to poor communication. Therapists with several students from different schools, classrooms or different grades and failure by teachers (either special educator or general) to communicate the needs of each student would make it difficult for therapists to meet the appropriate needs of these students. Most therapists do not spend much time with these children as teachers; therefore, effective communication between them with teachers and parents of students is important in determining the progress of students in their academics and general wellbeing.

Methods

Research Design

The study used a qualitative research approach to explore the extent of communication between school administration and special education team to meet the learning needs of special education students.

Sampling Methods

A total of 25 participants were sampled through random sampling method. The participants of the study included school administrators, general teachers and special education teachers. The study was conducted in a suburban elementary school located in the East Bay area of San Francisco.

Data Collection

The study employed the use of voluntary participations of the school administration and teachers. A survey design and interviews were used in the study for data collection. The survey design was used to determine the needs for effective communication between school administration and special education team. The results obtained from the survey were analyzed to establish the extent of communication between these groups. Interviews involved three school administrators, three general educational teachers and three special education teachers. The notes from the interview were reviewed and used to develop themes of the study.

Results/Discussion

Data Analysis

The data collected from surveys were analyzed through comparing the common and differences of answers provided by the participants. The notes from the interviews were analyzed by determining the common themes and differences.

Discussions

The study finding indicated that communication is an essential aspect between school administrators and special education teams. Effective communication is hindered by the inability of the school administrators and special education teams. Poor communication causes special education teachers to experience difficulties in implementing programs that meet the needs of special education students thus fail to efficiently monitor the progress of these students.

The study findings demonstrated that ineffective communication between school administration and special education team has become an increasing problem currently and has impacted negatively on education outcomes in children with special learning needs. Special education requires adequate cooperation with different teams to enhance its effectiveness. Both schools and special education teams’ plays a significant role in meeting the special learning requirements of students with special learning needs.

Consequently, the study finding showed the significance of communication between school administrators and special education team. The study revealed that improved communication enables special education teachers and teams to determine various ways of communicating efficiently with students thus understanding their learning needs and supporting them.  Effective communication allows teachers to develop interpersonal skills that contribute towards building and maintaining relationships with students and other special education teams. Additionally, the study findings confirmed that improved communication has many benefits to students such as it decreases frustration and disruptive behaviors, and increases verbal speech and communication thus enhancing their success.

Recommendations

Schools can improve communication with special education teams by setting up annual meetings to discuss the progress and challenges and identify the areas that require improvement. Through this, communication will be improved thus enhancing effectiveness in meeting the learning needs of these students. Moreover, this makes it possible for school administration and special education educators to agree on common goals and work collaboratively towards achieving those aims by brainstorming ideas and solutions to challenges.

To achieve corporation between schools and special education teams, it is important for these groups to develop the attributes of effective communication. The attributes of effective communication enhances achievement of positive academic outcomes among special education students. The attributes of effective communication include conflict management, team building, frequent communication and interpersonal skills. Constant communication is very crucial in meeting the learning needs of students with special learning needs.

Schools are recommended to adopt the use of technology to improve communication. The recent developments of technology have proved important in enhancing effective communication through the use of technological programs to meet the needs of special children. Examples of technological programs used in special education learning include joint calendars, IPAD and Hang Outs which assist teachers to effectively monitor their students and provide prompt on-going progress of the student. Monitoring through use of technology also provides convenience in that the school administration will not need to hold joint preparation curriculum meetings to communicate the special needs for students with learning difficulties.

Major Strengths and Weaknesses

The major strength of the study is that, the study was completed within the set time and it followed all the rules of a research paper. The major weakness of the study is that, the study only focused on a small group of study which provided inadequate evidence on the topic or research. A wider scope of study can provide more information on the topic which would be useful in different schools with special education students.

Conclusion

The study was important because it would help address the communication impairment that has become rampant currently in the education process. This study has identified factors that hinder effective communication between school administrators and special education teachers and recommended solutions to the problem. Despite the limited research, hopefully the research has provided an analysis that would be effective in enhancing improved communication between school administrators and special education team thus meet the learning needs of special education students.

 

References

Boys, C. J., Bjorke, J., Dole, K. N., Dalnes, C., Terwey, S., & Chang, P. N. (2016). Improving Educational Outcomes in Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Through Interagency Collaboration. Journal of Pediatric Neuropsychology, 2(1-2), 50-57.

Dunn, B., Constable, S., Martins, T., & Cammuso, K. (2016). Educating children with autism: Collaboration between parents, teachers, and medical specialists. The Brown University Child and Adolescent Behavior Letter, 32(7), 1-6.

Marschark, M., Shaver, D. M., Nagle, K. M., & Newman, L. A. (2015). Predicting the academic achievement of deaf and hard-of-hearing students from individual, household, communication, and educational factors. Exceptional children, 81(3), 350-369.

Salvia, J., Ysseldyke, J., & Witmer, S. (2012). Assessment: In special and inclusive education. Cengage Learning.

 

 

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