special education

Using technology to nurture special ed parent-teacher connections


Students with special needs thrive when their support system is in sync. Here’s how technology can nurture greater collaboration.

That it “takes a village” is commonly accepted when it comes to educating children, and the axiom rings especially true when a child has special needs. Students with special needs often learn in non-traditional ways. The adults responsible for their development face unique challenges, as well as successes–they’re constantly pursuing novel ways to make things click. And when they do, those aha! moments are what make the extra effort worthwhile.

To help students in special education settings, it is imperative for educators and parents to collaborate. Two minds are better than one, and in order to stay in tune with the child’s needs and overcome barriers to learning, all parties are critical. Nobody knows their child’s unique strengths, challenges, and needs better than a parent does. Paired with an educational team that has training in various interventions and methodologies to ensure all children learn, all children can reach their full potential.

To be effective, this collaboration has to extend well beyond the Individualized Education Program (IEP) table. This is daily practice to ensure that everyone is working together for the benefit of the learner. Thanks to technology, staying in touch and working together is easier than ever.

(Next page: Tech provides new tools for IEP teams)

Daily communication log
Remember when the daily communication log was supposed to go into the backpack at the end of each school day, but often was left sitting on the desk, long forgotten in the chaos of dismissal? Maybe that’s still your reality. Using an online platform to quickly complete daily notes and send them off electronically ensures that they get to the intended recipient. It also guarantees you have a record (without having to photocopy!) of all of the daily communications throughout the school year. With some software applications, you can even create custom daily notes to meet your classroom’s and student’s unique needs.

Data sharing
Educators and paraprofessionals in special education settings record data almost constantly. Technology has made data collection and progress monitoring easier than ever. Using a cloud-based platform will allow educators and parents to see how the learner is progressing on a constant basis. This ensures everyone is informed and can be active participants in decisions around interventions and strategies.

Secure communication
With web-based secure chat options on the market like CentralReach’s ReachMe feature, educators and staff can send secure messages between one another at any time. Staying in contact and working together then becomes more accessible and efficient. And since students’ needs change weekly or even daily, fast communication is important in addressing new challenges and opportunities that arise.

Similar to other areas of K-12 education, special education is evolving as technology opens new doors for students, teachers, and parents. Technology will never replace the human aspect of supporting students with special needs. Instead, technology provides new tools for IEP teams to maximize the positive impact they have on students’ development and fulfillment.

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