Chicago is now embracing co-teaching. Each school is implementing their version of it. Teachers aren't being trained. Currently, I am one of those displaced teachers that hasn't found a full time job. I used to be a self contained primary and intermediate teacher. I was also a resource teacher. I have never worked in a co-teaching classroom. I have some concerns. I went to three schools for an interview, they wanted me to co-teach 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th grade. I asked them for what subjects. I was told all four subjects (language arts, math, science, & social studies). I was unable to speak for a moment. My mind couldn't fantom how I would be able to meet the needs of so many diverse students in a general education setting. I asked if the student's placement was based on ability. I was told no. I asked if in the 5th or 8th grade classroom, where there any students that were reading at the kindergarten level. I was told yes. I was also told that I would be bouncing from one room to another throughout the day. I would spend about 20-30 minutes basically in each room.
My questions are:
How can I meet their needs if I am only there for 20 minutes? A child that is in 5th grade reading at a kindergarten level needs a lot of one to one instruction. 20 minutes isn't enough time. Remember he won't be the only child there that need help. I can have up to 12 students in that classroom with varying degrees of reading difficulties and only 20 minutes to address them. It seems as if I would be forced to write the IEP to meet the situation the student finds himself in instead of writing the IEP to address the needs of the student. Instead of recommending that student for 700 minutes per week on specialized instruction now I have to write 100mpw. The child hasn't improved that much to justify lowering his minutes. How can they get away with that?
Is this typical in co-teaching schools?
I also asked about common planning time. I was told they didn't have any. How can co-teaching work if there is no shared planning time? Obviously, I refused the job offer. My problem is that I am finding more and more schools asking the sped teachers to spread themselves very thin and be held responsible for everything. Imagine if a parent sues. I would be held liable.
How is co-teaching being done in your school?
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