Some kids with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) spend most of their day with general education teachers. The amount of time your child spends with a general education teacher depends on his classroom placement. But no matter what, general education teachers are just as responsible as special education teachers are when it comes to your child’s learning.
Although general education teachers aren’t necessarily trained in special education, they still need to make sure every child they teach has an opportunity to succeed. All students, whether they receive special education services or not, have individual needs. It is the job of the teacher to address these needs and try to find ways to make each child feel successful.
Here are a few things you can do to help the teacher take a more active role in your child’s education:
Go over your child’s IEP with the general education teacher. All of the teachers your child works with should know what’s in his IEP and follow it. Meet with each of his teachers and give them a copy of your child’s IEP. The same advice applies if your child has a 504 plan. If possible, try to have these meetings before the school year starts.
Be sure to go over any accommodations, such as extended time for classroom tests. This way, you can be certain the general education teacher knows she is required to give your child extended time on any tests given in the classroom. The teacher also needs to be aware of the annual goals in your child’s IEP and make efforts to help him reach these goals.
Ask the general education teacher to attend IEP meetings. Your child’s IEP team is required to include at least one of his general education teachers. The teacher can’t skip the meeting unless you give her permission to do so. If the teacher asks not to attend, there’s a polite way to decline this request. Having her attend the meeting can be an effective way to get her more involved in your child’s education.
Speak up if the situation doesn’t improve. If you feel that your child isn’t getting the instruction, services and accommodations he needs, you have a right to speak up. First, make an appointment to speak with the teacher. If that doesn’t work, talk to the school’s special education coordinator. If that doesn’t help, then it’s time to speak with the principal.
Remember that you are your child’s best advocate and can help make sure he gets what he needs to be successful in school.