Parents and Schools Creating a Successful Partnership for Students With Special Needs

Parents and Schools Creating a Successful Partnership for Students With Special Needs
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  • ISBN-13: 9780130185402
  • ISBN: 013018540X
  • Publication Date: 2002
  • Publisher: Prentice Hall


Shea, Thomas M., Bauer, Anne M.


The majority of teacher preparation programs in colleges and universities have a course about families. A few have a course, or at least a part of a course, related to families with members with disabilities. All students entering general and special education teacher preparation programs have personal experience as a member of a family. A few of these students have experience in a family with a member with a disability. Many students have preconceived notions about how they will engage families in the education of their children. These notions are often based on personal experiences with their teachers or the experiences of their parents and family. Such experiences may positively or negatively bias their approach to families. They may have preconceived ideas about how they will conduct their first open house, welcome families and children to their classroom, and so on. They may have vague ideas of how they will write their first parent letter, conduct their first conference, and make their first home visit. They may dread one or all of these difficult but necessary and required activities due to a lack of understanding and preparation with regard to families in general, and family members with disabilities in particular. Many students will work with families who are very dissimilar from their own family. Not only must they work with families from diverse racial, cultural, and linguistic groups and with families with members with disabilities, but they frequently work with single-parent families, blended families, foster families, and other family constellations. In addition, present-day teacher education students will work in classrooms and schools as well as live and work in communities very unlike those in which they were raised. They will be teaching children from backgrounds and with life experiences that diverge greatly from theirs. This text focuses on the uniqueness of each family that challenges teachers as they practice in public schools. We strive to communicate to the reader the contribution each child and family can make to the community of learning. We write from a social systems perspective, which offers insight into the developmental contexts of each child and each family. Engaging families in the education of their children is not a simple task. There is no philosopher's stone or recipe. By taking a developmental perspective, we demonstrate the changing needs of families as their children with disabilities progress from infancy to adulthood. This text presents the voices of real parents as they communicate the pleasures and problems of raising and educating a family member with disabilities. The text is based not only on the professional literature but also on our experiences as parents and professionals. We encourage the reader to empathize with those raising children with disabilities and challenge the reader to understand the complexities of working with families. As we researched and prepared this text, we were constantly amazed by the tenacity and resilience of the families represented here. In the first section of the text, we provide background information into working with families on behalf of their children. In Chapter 1, we describe the role of context and the unique settings in which each child develops. In Chapter 2, we further explore the aspects of the developmental context, with a discussion of diversity related to family involvement. Chapter 3 describes a different aspect of the context for families with members with a disability, that is, their legal rights and responsibilities. Chapter 4 covers some of the persistent assumptions related to the impact of identification and diagnosis of disability on families. The literature is discussed and integrated in the social systems perspective. In the next two chapters, we shift the focus of the discussion to implementation of parent engagement. Chapter 5 presents a model for family involvement. This is accompliShea, Thomas M. is the author of 'Parents and Schools Creating a Successful Partnership for Students With Special Needs', published 2002 under ISBN 9780130185402 and ISBN 013018540X.

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