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Three's a team: increasing collaboration among instructional assistants, general, and special educators teaching students with disabilities

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Children with cognitive disabilities are frequently included in general education classes to access grade level curriculum and socially interact with peers. To assist with the inclusion of students with disabilities,

Children with cognitive disabilities are frequently included in general education classes to access grade level curriculum and socially interact with peers. To assist with the inclusion of students with disabilities, some schools assign instructional assistants to support general education teachers. However, there is often a lack of planning time or a planning protocol for the general education teachers, special education teachers, and instructional assistant to plan for the inclusion of students with cognitive disabilities. This action research project intended to increase the collaboration among instructional assistants, general education teachers, and special education teachers by developing a Community of Practice among the three groups of professionals. The action included a jointly attended professional development opportunity on strategies to include students with cognitive disabilities in the general education classroom, followed by monthly structured collaboration meetings in which the team jointly planned for the students with disabilities. Effectiveness of the project was judged using survey and interview questions derived from Theory of Planned Behavior and the self-efficacy construct from Social-Cognitive theory. The implementation of a team planning protocol increased the team’s collaboration by positively improving communication and connectivity among the team members.

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  • 2016

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Parent Perspectives:Understanding Support Systems for Kindergartners with Special Needs and their Family Members

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Having a child with special needs can be overwhelming, emotionally draining and extremely stressful for parents and their family members. Research identifies the support systems families need in order to

Having a child with special needs can be overwhelming, emotionally draining and extremely stressful for parents and their family members. Research identifies the support systems families need in order to have quality-of-life. The current study uses mixed methods to evaluate the degree to which parents and other primary caregivers in Arizona view the educational and health related services that their child with special needs and/or other health impairments received when they entered kindergarten. It evaluated the degree to which the caregivers themselves perceived the support/services that they received in order to access quality of life for themselves, their child with special needs and other family members. Finally, the research identified reoccurring themes to better understand the intricacies involved within these support systems/services that promoted or hindered positive family and child outcomes.

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  • 2017