Formalizing External Supports

Teachers working together in conference room

The Collaborative Planning for External Support Services Tool is designed for two teachers to use when determining the specific external supports needed by a special education or special needs student. Note that you can also use this in planning to meet the needs of a student who is struggling in school.

How Do We Formalize External Supports?

  • Step 1:
    Recognize they are determined by the general and special education teachers working together to identify the specific instructional accommodations or curricular modifications that are needed by the student may lessen the impact of his or her disability. External supports are collaboratively determined.
  • Step 2:
    Use a simple structured format for indicating which accommodations or modifications are needed. Teacher should be specific. For instance, assisted note-taking may be needed in science but not in social studies. Recorded texts may not be needed in any subject but literature for the high school student. External supports are specifically applied.
  • Step 3:
    The general education teacher should know if the accommodation or modification was determined by the IEP team. If so, this teacher will understand the use of the materials, technology or other learning tools is required. External supports should be implemented if required by the IEP.
  • Step 4:
    The special education teacher should assist the student in using the accommodations or modifications correctly. In some instances, explicit instruction in their use may be necessary. External supports are explicitly taught.
  • Step 5:
    Both teachers should determine if accommodations or modifications provided in advance of instruction are beneficial to other students in the class. If so, the materials, technology, or learning tools should be available for all. This approach is an excellent way to support struggling learners and eliminate negative stereotypes or stigmas. External supports are available to others, when appropriate.
  • Step 6:
    The general and special education teachers should review the continued need for the accommodation or modification. For many students, the external supports provided may not be needed on a long-term basis. This is one measure of student success: when the scaffolds that were necessary for his success can be scaled back or eliminated entirely. External supports are periodically reviewed.

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