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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Co-Teaching

Co-Teaching

Related Tags: Special Education
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34 Replies 3058 Views
Hey everyone! I wanted to get people's experiences with co-teaching. My school went to an inclusion model last year. Prior to that, I had my own classroom of 6-8th graders with IEP's. I taught them Literacy and Math - they went out of my classroom for Social Studies and Science. When we went to inclusion, I now was co-teaching with the Math and Literacy teachers for 6th - 8th grades. There was virtually no training - I started the year with no schedule! I would LOVE to say that things went smoothly but that was not the case. I was treated anywhere from a good "aid" to a somewhat competent "student teacher" to a complete intruder. Ugh! It's getting better this year but at a very slow pace. I really feel for all of the students - not just those with IEPs - who could benefit if we embraced the idea of co-teaching more fully and the classroom teachers utilized my expertise in accessing the curriculum. I'd love to hear your stories! The good, the bad, and the ugly! I'd especially like to hear how people have made it work - converted the "non-believers" Thanks!

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Shirley McKinney's picture
Shirley McKinney
Special Education: K-6 Inclusion Resource Teacher from Phoenix, Arizona

Erika,
Click on Video in the menu on the home page of Edutopia. Search for Successful Team Teaching. There's a great video for Middle School teachers. Below the video are articles that are related. You might pick up some good ideas, not just for team teaching, but for room and seating arrangements, teaching styles, equipment, etc.
I was browsing through this morning and came upon it. Hope it will be helpful for you.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Shirley

Erika Saunders's picture
Erika Saunders
6th-8th Special Ed, LS & Mentally Gifted teacher

[quote]Erika,

Click on Video in the menu on the home page of Edutopia. Search for Successful Team Teaching. There's a great video for Middle School teachers. Below the video are articles that are related. You might pick up some good ideas, not just for team teaching, but for room and seating arrangements, teaching styles, equipment, etc.

I was browsing through this morning and came upon it. Hope it will be helpful for you.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Shirley[/quote]

Thanks, Shirley! I've actually seen that one and really like their approach. Now, all I have to do is get everyone else on board!

Diane Van Dyke's picture
Diane Van Dyke
Grade 6 Middle School Special Education teacher from South Jersey

Thank you for posting on such an important topic.
My personal experience has given validation to what I have always suspected. When the two teachers involved are given the choice of whom they will work with, students benefit and scores rise on state testing. As a full-day grade 6 Sp. Ed. inclusion teacher, my experience has been good, bad, and ugly during the fifteen years of co-teaching.Often, my ideas, strategies and talents have been over looked. A partial solution to an unhappy and ineffective in-class-support setting may be additional professional development for all teachers.

JMC's picture
JMC
Special Education teacher K-12 specialization LD

I want to thank you so much, for posting something about co-teaching. I have got to be honest, I'm a little intimidated by what I am about to jump into. I am pro when it comes to the pull out model, but know very little or even experience with the inclusion model. I have recently accpeted a job, where inclusion is the number one priority. Why? Because I love working with students with special needs and I was told that learning how to work inclusively would come easy enough. From what I have read in this group, there are a lot of challenges that I will face ahead. Could anyone give me any type of advice or anything regarding HOW to interact effectively with the classroom teacher/s? I don't really know how each classroom is set up yet, but can anyone describe to me almost walking me through what a day is like for a special educator in the inclusion model? For example, when I first enter into the classroom... I believe that I will be working with the students with special needs in a group separate from the rest of the class. So, I guess what I am asking is "An Hour in the life of an inclusive special eductor". I love the videos on this site, and the links. I have gotten a lot of good information, but I would love to hear first hand what I can expect. Thank you so much... anything would be great.

Erin Funwela's picture

Hello,
I am so glad that I have more inclusion friends out there! I live in Pittsburgh, Pensylvania and it seems that not many school districts have gone to inclusion. I feel your pain with feeling like an aide sometimes. I have been an inclusion teacher for four years. My first year was the worst. I was coming from another school, and I felt as though I was thrown in to the position with no training as well. I don't think that the regular teachers knew what to do with me either. The best thing that happened to me was teachers getting switched around in our school. I now work with a group of teachers that are wonderful. However, I will say that the grade levels in my building seem to view inclusion differently. Some provide more of a pull-out program. Collaboration with my team seems to work the best for us. I feel like they view me as a teacher when we sit down to plan and share ideas. I also tell them to let me do some of the planning, and share in the workload. Most of them are able to give up some of that control. We do have two new coaches this year for math and literacy. They seem to want to push training for the whole school. I think this would help greatly. I think the biggest hurdle is for the regular education teachers to view us as teachers as well. I hope this helps!!

Diane Van Dyke's picture
Diane Van Dyke
Grade 6 Middle School Special Education teacher from South Jersey

Some advice.....
1-Stand your ground before school begins, if possible---let the gen ed teacher know that YOU are the EXPERT of the Special Ed curriculum and they are the expert of the gen ed curriculum.
2-Let the gen ed teacher know that you will need a copy of their lesson plans by Thurs. of each week, along with any tests they will be given...It is the responsibility of the Spec. Ed. teacher to make modifications and/or accomodations to his or her lesson plans and tests...even assignments that require modifying to the classied students' IEPs.
3-Though by theory, all of the students' education is both of your responsibilty, leave the discipline of the gen ed students up to the gen ed teacher...this will prevent problems with parents down the road.
4-Before "back to school night" call the parents of the spec. ed. students, to invite them. Explain that you are available by phone and e-mail. Stay connected to parents every marking period at least once, unless of course, you need to touch base more often.
Those are merely the basics of In-Class-Support.
Your position as a professional is extremely important. if you begin feeling like an aide, another talk may be necessary with the gen ed teacher and boundaries may need to be re-enforced or renegotiated.

JMC's picture
JMC
Special Education teacher K-12 specialization LD

I love the idea, that we all want to help each other here and there is no shortage of offering suggestions and/or ideas to make collaboration a little easier. These are all fantastic ideas, and hopefully, I can add to it in the next week or so. In the meantime, I am carefully jotting down notes (more mental notes) on how I can transition a little more smoothly when coming in the middle of a school year.

Erika Saunders's picture
Erika Saunders
6th-8th Special Ed, LS & Mentally Gifted teacher

Everyone: thanks for great advice and information! Especially thanks for sharing your stories - it's so nice to know I'm not alone. I just wish I could have you all come and talk to the classroom teachers! I couldn't agree with you all more with what is being said. We just don't have the buy-in from the classroom teachers yet.

I'm hopeful that each year will build on the previous year. Eventually, more will be on board. I just found out I'm a National Board Certified Teacher now! Maybe that will give me a bit more clout in the classroom!

Gene A.R's picture
Gene A.R
Christian teacher and lifelong learner

My experience with co-teaching was woefully discouraging. Regular education teachers were told only two weeks in advance that they would have a co-teacher. They were untrained and had no concept of what should be happening. Administration was no better off although they claimed to be knowledgeable. I was treated as an educated teacher's aide. If an opportunity comes up again I am going to ask lots of pointed questions before I get involved with co-teaching.

Erika Saunders's picture
Erika Saunders
6th-8th Special Ed, LS & Mentally Gifted teacher

[quote]My experience with co-teaching was woefully discouraging. Regular education teachers were told only two weeks in advance that they would have a co-teacher. They were untrained and had no concept of what should be happening. Administration was no better off although they claimed to be knowledgeable. I was treated as an educated teacher's aide. If an opportunity comes up again I am going to ask lots of pointed questions before I get involved with co-teaching.[/quote]

Thanks so much for your comments! I'm going through the same thing now at my school. I really think co-teaching can work and can be a good thing but it needs to be thought out, people need to be trained, and we need everyone on board!

Erika

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