Purdue University Graduate School
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Collaboration Between General and Special Education Teachers

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posted on 2020-05-01, 04:07 authored by Tori Marie GrooverTori Marie Groover
New special education teachers beginning their career field have many job-related responsibilities and activities to adjust to and learn about. The most important success factor of special education teachers' job is collaboration.Collaboration happens constantly when teaching students with disabilities. In particular, collaboration is an important job responsibility of a special education teacher (Rapert, 2018). The purpose of the current survey study was to provide guidance and explore various collaboration strategies and areas new special educators struggle with. The ultimate purpose of this research was to aid in the development of a collaborative handbook, describing the core components collaboration and providing resources to help support new special education teachers in those identified core components.

This study had twenty four potential teacher participants in a Midwestern junior high school. Fourteen teachers voluntarily completed a needs assessment survey. The survey includes twelve questions about collaboration and communication in their school. Fourteen teachers provided their viewpoints of collaboration and communication in their school. Results showed that teachers see the following as core collaboration and communication components for successful collaboration: (1) an equal partnership between special education and general education teachers, (2) adequate preparation time, (3) consistent collaboration, and (4) effective communication strategies. Another interesting finding is that only three out of fourteen teachers indicated they agreed that special education teachers and general education teachers were viewed as equal partners in the classroom. Other findings are about lack of time, the existence of a regular collaboration and communication method. Twelve teachers indicated they had a lack of time in order to collaborate and plan with the special education teachers. Six out of fourteen teachers reported that regular collaboration happened between both general and special education teachers. Eleven teachers indicated e-mailing is the easiest way to communicate.

Based on the survey responses and receiving wide responses about teacher’s viewpoints regarding collaboration and communication in their building, a guide to help new special education teachers successfully collaborate with all teachers would be beneficial. Giving a new teacher the tools to be successful in an already challenging position, can increase their confidence and understanding of what is expected in the building. Outlining the best way to communicate, and collaborate with all teachers in the building including teachers who many not directly work with special education students daily. The handbook guides and walks through how to set up conferences and meetings with staff and parents of the student. Given a guide on who to contact, when to contact, and having a checklist prior to setting up one of the various meetings a special educator conducts can help a new teacher tremendously in feeling confident and understanding the building procedures. With the approval from the junior high schools principal this handbook was created to guide new teachers at the specific junior high school.


Degree Type

  • Master of Science in Education


  • Educational Studies

Campus location

  • Fort Wayne

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Dr. Jeong-il Cho

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee co-chair

Dr. Jane Leatherman

Additional Committee Member 2

Dr. Rama Cousik