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SPE-491-20, Top: Comm Skills for Spec Educ (FA14)

INSTRUCTOR: Careen Mayer, careen.mayer@comcast.net

SCHEDULE/DAY/TIME: Special/Tuesday/5–7:45 PM, 09/09/2014–11/11/2014


This course is cross-listed with a leadership skills class and a communication class for those involved in special education. It includes the essentials of a human relations, group dynamics, and communication skills course, and address approaches to preventative interventions, resolving conflict, utilizing school and community resources, and effective communication with parents or primary caregivers, colleagues, and monitoring agencies. It will include collaborative team coordination in various programs providing services to school age children.


EDU 559 text: The Daily Discipline of Leadership – How to Improve Student Achievement, Staff Motivation & Personal Organization by Douglas B. Reeves, ISBN 0-787-987-670.

SPE 576 and SPE 491 textInteractive Teaming: Enhancing Programs for Students with Special Needs by Correa, Jones, Thomas & Morsink, 4thEd.  ISBN 0-13-112592-3.

Optional Readinghttp://www.eric.ed.gov/ Transformational Leadership: Principals, Leadership Teams, and School Culture. Also Finders & Keepers – Helping New Teachers Survive & Thrive in Our Schools.  Susan Moore Johnson, 10-0-7879-8764-6.


1.  Understand the models and strategies of consultation and collaboration. (CEC 1, INTASC 4, EDO 1)

2.  Explore the roles of individuals with exceptional learning needs, their families, and school and community personnel in the planning of an individualized program.  (CEC 1, 6, 10, INTASC 4, 10, EDO 4)

3.  Use group problem solving skills to develop, implement, and evaluate collaborative activities and effective interactive teaming skills.  (CEC 6, 10, INTASC 10, EDO2)

4.  Understand the culturally responsive factors that promote effective communication and collaboration with individuals having exceptional learning needs, families, school personnel, and community members.  (CEC 3, 10, INTASC 2, 10, EDO 3)

5.  Conduct an interview with the parent/guardian of a student with a disability, or observe conferences/meetings in general or special education, and interview members. (CEC 8, 9, INTASC 6, 9, EDO 2)      

6.  Administer, analyze and interpret surveys on climate and team productivity of general and special education groups, or on parental needs.  (CEC 8, 9,  INTASC 6, 9, EDO 2,)

7.  Collect evidence of applying skills in technology and media to support communication, collaboration, and professional development.  (CEC 6, 8, 10,  INTASC 6, 10, EDO 3)

8.Explore and understand group dynamics and meeting facilitation skills.(CEC 6, INTASC 5, EDO 2)

9.  Foster respectful and beneficial relationships between families and professionals. (CEC 2, 10, INTASC 1, 10, EDO 4)

10. Communicate effectively with families of individuals with exceptional learning needs from diverse backgrounds.  (CEC 2, 6, 10, INTASC 1, 10, EDO 4)

11. Develop a comprehensive class/school communication plan demonstrating an   understanding of ways in which leadership skills can promote school improvement. (CEC 6, 7, 10,  INTASC  7, EDO 1)


Material will be presented through lectures, cooperative learning, role-plays, student presentations, self-reflection, research projects, and videos.


A = 95–100 points   B+ =90-94 points   B = 85–89 points   C+ = 77-84 points 

C= 70–76 points     F = below 70 points

Grades are based on the following:                                    

1.  Class attendance — 15 points                            

2.  Participation in class discussion and exercises — 5 points

3.  Conflict analysis — 5 points

4   Paper on readings in text — 5 points

5.  Observations or Interview — 20 points

6.  Team Presentation of reading assignments — 10 points

7.  Second Team presentation — 10 points

8.  Communication Plan — 30 points

All papers and make-up assignments are due by the last class. Two points will be deducted for each day an assignment is late after the class has ended.


Absences will impact the scoring used to determine your grade. Absent any class, minus 2 points, plus make-up assignment. Absent three times, make-up assignment, and automatic course grade of C. Four additional points will be deducted from your score for each make-up assignment not completed.

MAKE-UP ASSIGNMENTS:  First absence – two-page summary of the last chapter in the text.  Discuss at least two significant points. Second absence – two-page paper on research about class size.


Classes 1–2 - Introductions and Overview; Goals and Expectations; Conflict Styles; Dispute Resolution Options; Conflict Theory

Classes 3–6 - Interpersonal Conflicts; Principled Negotiation; Diversity Issues in Communication; Group Dynamics, Team Presentations

Classes 6 to end Enhancing Leadership Skills; Group Observations; Climate and Productivity Surveys; Interactive Teaming; Meeting Facilitation, High Conflict Case Studies