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Meeting the needs of all students, including those with high-intensity needs, through a MTSS relies on effective collaboration. Professionals from multiple roles and disciplines within education and related fields must work together to create and implement a comprehensive MTSS framework for student academic and behavioral progress. This includes general education teachers, special education teachers, paraeducators, students and families, guidance counselors, administrators, social workers, school psychologists, occupational and physical therapists, speech/language pathologists, and many more. Effective collaboration enables the sharing of data, information, and expertise from multiple perspectives to identify and meet the unique needs of all students. Collaboration also enables the identification and sharing of effective academic and behavioral/emotional/life skills instructional practices, promotes consistency in practices across providers, and ensures that students benefit from these practices.

Essential Components of Collaboration

Collaboration is an essential practice for providing equitable education to all students within an inclusive setting. There are several key components and necessary professional dispositions to create effective collaboration among education professionals. A shared approach to collaboration based on the defining characteristics and undertaken with the essential dispositions can help ensure interprofessional collaboration advances the effective support of all students to improve their academic and behavioral outcomes.

An infographic of connected hexagons entitled Defining Characteristics of Effective Collaboration. The hexagons read Collaboration is based on parity; Collaborators share mutual goals; Collaborators share participation, decision making, and accountability; Collaborators share their resources and expertise: and Collaboration is emergent - it changes based on people, needs and tasks.
An infographic of a circle divided into 6 sections that is entitled Essential Professional Dispositions for Effective Collaboration. The sections are labeled Belief in collaboration to meet the needs of all students; Good communication; Flexibility; Trust; Respectful interactions; Frame of Reference.

Effective Collaboration Practices and Skills

Good communication is essential to effective collaboration. High-impact collaboration practices include:

  • Collaborative lesson planning across providers
  • Collaboration with parents and caregivers
  • Collaboration with student support personnel, including related-service providers and paraprofessionals

Collaboration is much more than the time and space to meet with colleagues. Key skills for effective collaboration between all stakeholders include:

Preparedness: Identify a facilitator; Set an agenda with identified meeting goals ahead of time; Communicate information and details ahead of time to ensure meeting time allows for collaborative work

Active Listening: Be present, silence/close devices, and focus on the meeting agenda and goals; Allow others to finish their thoughts and input before speaking; Follow up with questions

Questioning: Maintain an inquiry mindset and ask open-ended and clarifying questions; Use paraphrasing to check your understanding of colleagues’ views

Integrating: Synthesize the ideas of colleagues to develop an actionable solution or plan; Integrate additional input and feedback to strengthen initial ideas

Empathizing: Assume your colleagues have positive intent and are working for the best interest of the student; Ensure all stakeholders are able to contribute and voices are heard equally