Jul 24, 2014

Getting on the Same Page With Your Classroom Team

There are some myths Special Educators tell themselves before entering the classroom:
1.   You have to know everything about teaching.
2.   You should know what to do when behaviors occur.
3.   Everyone in the class will get along.
4.   Adults will play fair.
5.   People can read your mind.

The fact is, these are just myths and you do not have to know everything about teaching, but you have to be willing to let people know you're not sure at the moment and you will try to find the answer. Then, be sure to research to find the answer. You don't have to know everything about behaviors either. In fact, most people do not know how to react to certain behaviors. But it's always good to have a calm demeanor and a neutral body tone so that you don't over react. Then learn as much as you can about increasing positive behaviors so that the next time, you can be ready. Try your best to model a calm state for your students and the other staff members while you take care of the situation.

The truth is, everyone in the class may not get along since people have different personalities and different temperaments.  Remember, your job is to educate students and it is not your job to make all of the adults get along. However, it is your job to make sure that the working environment is one that focuses on the students.  So, continuously send that message and make the classroom the best it can be so that students can thrive.  The fourth myth that adults play fair is often the one that keeps many Special Educators up at night. Sometimes other adults will try to stress you out. Try not to let them. Remember again, it is your job to focus on the students. Remind everyone on the team that the job is to educate students and they have to leave their baggage at the door. 

Finally, the last myth is that people can read your mind. I know what you are thinking “They can’t? They don’t know how to run this activity exactly the way I had it planned in my mind?” No. They don’t unless you tell them what you are thinking. You have to make sure that you tell people what it is that needs to happen for the students. This can be done in a number of ways:
1.   You can state it verbally.
2.   You can show them by modeling.
3.   You can write it down so that people can have something to refer to at a later time.

Getting on the same page with other staff members is essential for Special Education classrooms to run effectively. Doing so, may require a number of things. For instance, a checklist for items that the team needs to accomplish, posted schedules that show when your break times will be happening, weekly schedules, written lesson plans, and many debriefings.  Debriefings are helpful since you can sit sit down with the team and talk about what is going on and what plans are going to be put in place to deal with behaviors and communication supports and more. 
 Teacher as a Leader

The Teacher as a Leader Series for Special Education Teachers (Part 2:Getting on the Same Page- Autism Support) examines the topic of adults getting on the same page to support students with autism. It focuses on team building and a few methods to work with your team to try to increase communication in the team.

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