Sometimes there are those awesome moments as teachers where we asked our opinion. Something so seemingly simple can make you feel like the kick-butt expert that you are. Yes. Someone should ask for my opinion. I am a source of important information. I do spend all day with this child. I can share helpful and meaningful suggestions. But then, when it comes down to sharing your opinion you need to make sure you do so in a way that is sensitive, ethical, and objective. Maintain being that professional goddess that we know you are.
Occasionally, we get asked by a parent to share with a child’s doctor information regarding their child’s behavior. It is so meaningful and important for everyone on a child’s team to be in communication. The parent, teacher, therapists, and doctors should all be on the same page. This is often difficult to arrange. Whenever I get asked to be a more communicative member of this bigger team, I jump at the opportunity. However, I always make sure I provide my information in a professional and ethical way. No matter how extreme a child’s behavior is, I always remember – this is someone’s child I am talking about.
I have had to write some difficult letters in the past. One student I worked with had several medication changes throughout one year. When medication is involved, I think it is even more important to have good communication between the teacher and the doctor. This student had very high rates of aggression and engaged in many dangerous events. After one medication change, his aggression suddenly increased. This situation was very critical in order to maintain safety for all of those in my room and I wanted to communicate that with his doctor.
Here is a sample of the letter I wrote:
To whom it may concern,
I am ________’s special education teacher from ___________ School. I am writing to detail the situation of _______’s current behaviors in the school setting.
Over the past 2 months, _________’s behavior has escalated significantly. He currently engages in aggressive acts on a daily basis. The magnitude of aggression has increased along with the frequency. Aggressive incidents include biting other students and staff members, biting himself, hitting students and staff, and pushing others. Anecdotally, ________ appears agitated most of the day. It is difficult to focus on his academic and functional tasks and IEP goals.
During the summer and the first two months of school, ________’s rates of aggression remained at a lower level compared to the winter and spring that year when his aggression was extremely high. ________ has between 4-5 aggressive incidents per day on average. Aggression can last between 2-20 minutes and sometimes it can take between 10-30 minutes to calm down completely. Last week, ______ pushed and attempted to bite a young kindergarten student he passed in the hallway.
_______ continues to have a dedicated paraprofessional aide who is with him at all times. This has improved the consistency we are able to implement the behavior management plan and has decreased the likelihood of potentially dangerous situations. However, we are still struggling to maintain a safe environment for _______ and the other students in the classroom.
If you have any additional questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me at anytime. My email is ____________ and my phone number is ___________. Thank you.
Here are some tips for writing letters such as this:
- Rely on numbers. Provide information such as how many times the behavior is occurring, how long the behavior lasts, etc.
- Avoid overly descriptive adjectives that could exaggerate.
- Provide details on interventions that have worked or have not worked.
- Provide information on how behavior effects progress on IEP goals.
- If some higher magnitude events have occurred (ie. events that required an incident report or use of more restrictive intervention methods), provide a brief and objective account.
- Provide your information so you can be easily contacted.
More sample notes are included in my Must-Have Forms and Templates for a Special Education Class!