"When parents and teachers work together, children do better in school." Janet Vohs, Director of Publications, Mass PIRC
I think we all know this, it just doesn't always translate into the parent-teacher relationship. During the best of times communication can be difficult. It can be even more of a challenge when a child has special needs.
For me, recognizing that I am not an expert on how to address all learning issues was the most essential step in working with parents of special needs students. I believe letting the parents know that you are open to learning, understanding and working together to support their child is the next step in opening lines of communication and developing a productive, supportive relationship.
Now, having said that, I understand for some teachers it is very hard to let parents know that you have deficiencies in your skills and knowledge, especially if you are a new to the profession. So, educate yourself, i.e., read the I.E.P. and understand it, speak with the previous year teacher and any specialist that worked with the student, list effective strategies that worked for the student in the past. (These recommendations apply to season teachers as well.)
Let the parents know that you are both in this together. Keep the parents informed. You will need to figure out how best to communicate with each other, e.g. emails, phone, notes. Most importantly, be honest with the parents.
Please share this blog with colleagues and friends.
Also, take a moment to check-out my book on effective teaching strategies on Amazon.com.