Date of Award

Spring 5-12-2023

Document Type

Project (696 or 796 registration)

Degree Name

Master of Science in Special Education


Graduate Studies

Committee Chair

Marci Glessner


Special Education, Communication, Collaboration


Communication between educators and parents/guardians increases positive relationships as well as provides opportunities for collaboration. Purposeful and intentional planning for the communication allows for positive moments, thoughts, ideas, and concerns regarding a students’ educational progress (academics, services, social/emotional) to be shared. West and Pirtle (2014) found that parents feel the essential qualities for special education teachers to possess include understanding, training, and effective communication. They felt it was important that their child’s special education teacher was able to effectively communicate with the Individualized Education Plan (IEP) team; this included seeing the educator/parent or guardian relationship as a ‘partnership.’

When students have multiple needs and receive multiple special education services, it is vital that relationships are built and communication is ongoing between parents/guardians and the student’s case manager. This is often completed via the use of communication notebooks, behavior charts or emails. However, even with daily communication and tools, parents may feel as though they are missing important information or even feel uncomfortable. In one study, conducted with 281 parents of students with disabilities, only 56% felt comfortable sharing their thoughts, feelings and concerns during IEP meetings and 32% of parents experienced negative reactions from others at meetings and (Ingalls et al., 2016).

This project was created to reflect on all types of communication, various formats, and benefits of communication between parents/guardians and students' special education teacher. Through this reflection and analysis, patterns in the types of communication that were most successful, communication that resulted in changes to teaching or learning practices, and what was most beneficial to students themselves were discovered. Communication opportunities and occurrences took place most often with students who were non-verbal and had more significant needs. Also, sharing daily behavior charts with parents/guardians often resulted in only one-way communication. Through these findings, new systems of communication were reviewed and considered to ensure comfort and positive relationship building with students’ parents/guardians.


Ingalls, L., Hammond, H., Paez, C., & Rodriguez, I. (2016). Follow-up study to family members’ reactions to the initial special education meeting. Journal of the American Academy of Special Education Professionals, 43–63.

West, E. A., & Pirtle, J. M. (2014). Mothers’ and fathers’ perspectives on quality special educators and the attributes that influence effective inclusive practices. Education and Training in Autism and Developmental Disabilities, 49(2), 290–300.



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