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Amy D Diamond

Family and Interprofessional Collaboration in Special Education


Family Interview Assignment

Reflection

Assignment Purpose

The Family Interview assignment was intended to develop a better understanding of a

family's perspective when collaborating with professionals regarding their childs special

education experience. The Family interview assignment encouraged you to interact with a

family who was involved in their childs education experience but also allowed you to

implement strategies and practices that we had learned throughout the course, such as active

listening and being sensitive to cultural differences.

Assignment Requirements

The Family Interview assignment required me to select a family who actively

collaborates with their childs education professionals. I was required to seek their permission

and set up an opportunity to interview the selected family. Prior to the interview, I had to

compose a list of four to five questions to ask the family member. After the interview, I

composed a reflection paper that addressed any insights I had gained, challenges the family

experienced, or strategies to improve family school relationships.

For this assignment, I met with a colleague whose son has cerebral palsy. I selected this

colleague specifically because she has five children, the rest of which are educated in general

education settings. This colleagues family is actively involved in collaborating with school

professionals. Finally, four of the five children in her family are two sets of twins, which

provides unique insight into the grade level experience of the child receiving special education

services. I created six questions to ask about their experience. During the interview, I reminded

myself to allow the family member to do most of the talking and to truly listen to understand. I
Amy D Diamond
Family and Interprofessional Collaboration in Special Education
Family Interview Assignment

prompted myself to ask powerful, information seeking questions and to allow her to elaborate on

responses.

Reflection & Application

When I began this course, I was unsure of the applications but this has easily been one of

my most applicable courses. One of the most powerful lessons from this course was analyzing

my role in collaborating with others and my listening skills. In this course, I learned to be

listening to understand, rather than to respond. When I reflected on my current practices, I found

that I constantly listened to reply. Since, that module, I consistently analyze my participation in

conversations and collaboration and prompt myself to listen to understand. This interview also

helped me reflect on many of our current family-school practices that hinder effective

collaboration. Specifically, time is continuous factor that makes it difficult to have effective

collaboration. For example, in my family interview, it was revealed that the special education

instructor and the kindergarten teacher rarely spoke outside of the required monthly collaboration

with the rest of the kindergarten team. The parent voiced her concerns on how can her son be

actively and effectively included if the special education teacher is unaware of the lessons that

are going on in the general education classroom. She did cite that it was not necessarily done

intentionally just that there is never enough time for teachers to adequately plan for true

inclusion. She also noted that she would prefer the special education teacher to, occasionally, be

present in the general ed classroom rather than the continuous para support that he currently

receives. Finally, special education professionals are often limited in their interactions with

parents prior to an IEP meeting. I feel that more interaction prior to a meeting, including

preparing a family in their role and responsibilities in a meeting would allow families to be more

active participants in the special education process. It would be ideal if every school had a
Amy D Diamond
Family and Interprofessional Collaboration in Special Education
Family Interview Assignment

person on staff to serve as a parent liaison, whose only responsibility would be to advocate for

families and instruct families in the special education process. I realize its a bit of an oxymoron

to have school personnel for such a role but too often I feel parents defer to professionals simply

because they dont know any better. That is not doing our due diligence in serving families and

their children.