“Collaboration is the process by which people with different areas of expertise work together to identify needs and problems and then find ways to meet the needs and solve the problems” (Westling, Fox, & Carter, 2015, p. 48). In many inclusive schools the academic and behavioral needs of all students, including students with significant disabilities, are addressed through a multi-tiered system of supports, which is based on collaborative efforts of professionals and families (Sailor, McCart, & Choi, 2018). For students who have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), collaboration by the members of the IEP team is mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA). Collaborative teams for students with disabilities in educational settings consist of people from three very different systems: the family, education professionals, and related service providers. The purpose of their collaboration is to optimize specially designed instruction for the student in the least restrictive environment. The collaborative processes are complex, and different models have evolved in the field of education (Hernandez, 2013). In a multidisciplinary model of collaboration, professionals work independently with the student, each focusing on their area of expertise. In an interdisciplinary model of collaboration, professionals from different disciplines strive toward enhanced coordination, cooperative assessment, and delivery of instruction and services (Cloninger, 2004). A transdisciplinary model of collaboration adopts a more integrated service delivery approach based on the student's support needs in natural contexts (York, Rainforth, & Giangreco, 1990). It promotes knowledge exchange across disciplines. For example, for a student with autism who has intensive support needs and who uses a speech-generating device, a speech/language pathologist would assess the level of communicative competence using assessment data from parents, teachers, and paraprofessionals, as well as observation data of the student in natural settings. A vision specialist and/or an occupational therapist could be consulted to make sure that the symbols on the device are easy to see and easy to access. The team members along with the student would work together to identify high-priority messages. Everyone on the team would be informed about how to facilitate the use of the communication device in addition to other forms of communication to enhance the student's meaningful participation in the academic and social life of the general education classroom and the wider school community. Different members of the team would take data to monitor progress on the student's communication and social IEP goals and to continuously enhance the student's communication system. This example shows how the specialized support the student needs cuts across different people and environments.

Person-Centered Planning (O'Brien, Pearpoint, & Kahn, 2010) and Support Planning (Hunt, Soto, Maier, Liboiron, & Bae, 2004) are examples of transdisciplinary collaboration models that have a delineated focus and that have been important for students with disabilities and their families. Concerns about collaboration in special education are: the vulnerable position of parents (Turnbull, Turnbull, Erwin, Soodak, & Shogren, 2015), the differences in values and perspectives between the different team members (Giangreco, Shogren, & Dymond, 2018), extensive reliance on paraprofessionals (Giangreco, Broer, & Suter, 2011), pragmatic constraints, and the difficulty that comes with collaborating in general (Friend, 2000). Successful collaborative teaming happens when teams approach their collaboration as a partnership (Turnbull et al., 2015), when effective team cultures and structures are built (Pugach & Johnson, 2002), and when teams engage in creative brainstorming as communities of practice to develop individualized and context-dependent knowledge (Mortier, 2018). A greater alignment across pre-service programs will facilitate effective collaboration of professionals in the field (Dunn, Constable, Martins, & Cammuso, 2016).