Family-Teacher Partnerships: Support for Parents of Children with Disabilities

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Case Study: The Problem

Nathan James is a new 5th grade student at Oak Elementary School. At the teacher/parent conference, Nathan’s parents explain that Nathan’s IEP (Individualized Education Plan) has minutes for reading, writing and behavior. Nathan has been parent diagnosed with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) and Nathan’s disruptions in class have contributed to his IEP being inclusive of minutes for behavior therapy to address his conduct issues.

What Mrs. Nolan, Nathan’s 5th grade teacher understands is that Nathan, like all of her students, comes to her classroom with a story that has both fact and fiction in its origin. The fact is that with diagnosed testing in reading and writing, Nathan has noted deficiencies in word formation and sentence construction. The fiction is that Nathan is disruptive when he encounters a task that he can’t master quickly.

He has not been taught how to deconstruct and reconstruct meaning in his learning, so he acts out to distract from his performance on tasks that he sees as less than perfect. With additional psychologist testing, Nathan has been diagnosed as a perfectionist who sees anything less than 100% as imperfect and a venue to vent and disrupt a classroom.

Benefits to Forming Parent and Teacher Partnerships

For Mrs. Nolan and other teachers, there are a diversity of reasons to work with parents in creating an effective learning environment for Nathan and students who come to classrooms with stories of origin that are both factual and fiction. In foraging effective support and communication with parents, the following list will provide a start to the very important reasons why parents and teachers should form partnerships on behalf of students with disabilities.

  • Parents and teachers are the best advocates in creating a student’s optimal learning environment.
  • Teachers are able to learn the student’s story that can be both fact and fiction with important details that can help the teacher in creating effective instructional strategies for student access and success.
  • Parents can help with academic and behavioral issues in the classroom. If Nathan is not turning in homework assignments, Mrs. Nolan can call his parents and seek their partnership in resolving the issue.
  • When Nathan is off task in the classroom, Mrs. Nolan can solicit the help of his parents to redirect his behavior.

Forming an effective parent and teacher partnership begins with clear and direct communication on what’s needed and required for student academic and behavioral growth during the school year. Forging teacher support for parents and students with disabilities can create the ultimate success in learning outcomes for students.