News

How a collaborative mindset helps teachers reach all learners

By Christine Fax-Huckaby
May 5th, 2015

Special ed and general ed teachers work together at one district to improve outcomes for everyone

collaborative-mindsetThe implementation of the Common Core State Standards has been met with anxiety from administrators and educators at every level, because, like any major change, it can seem scary and overwhelming. General education teachers have had to learn and apply new instructional strategies to address the new standards and the vision that the standards embody, particularly universal design for learning. Special education teachers have been required for the first time to become pseudo subject-area experts to help struggling students and those with learning disabilities meet the standards.

This can be a stressful time for everyone. However, when educators are empowered to share their expertise with one another, and given the time and place they need to collaborate, they surpass expectations and their students soar.

At Sweetwater Union High School District, located near San Diego, we bring general and special education teachers together to meet the needs of students through a framework known as universal design for learning, which provides something of a blueprint for creating learning goals and materials that work for all learners. We accomplish this through carefully-designed cohorts, teacher-led “zones,” online resources support, and by fostering a collaborative culture.

Next page: Creating the collaborative mindset