George Lucas Educational Foundation

Why Co-Teaching?

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Hi everyone.  Can anyone explain the origin/rationale for co-teaching?  Is it the IDEA law, or each state's interpretation, or budget-driven, or something else?  


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John S. Thomas's picture
John S. Thomas
First & Second Grade Teacher/Adjunct Faculty Antioch University New England, former Elementary Principal

Rosie, I'm so sorry to hear about your situation. It can be tricky when things don't go well in a co-teaching situation. Co-teaching supports the Lease Restrictive Environment for special education children. In the U.S. Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), least restrictive environment (LRE) means that a student who has a disability should have the opportunity to be educated with non-disabled peers, to the greatest extent appropriate. In my experience co-teaching can work very well when done properly just like pulling out students to a separate setting can as well....when done properly of course. By properly, I mean the whole school community supports the children receiving special education. Unfortunately that was not the case when I was in school in the 70's. I think back to my own experience where children were put in a separate classroom, never interacted with their more typical developing peers, and even had a separate yearbook page- the Grade 3-4 Special Education Class. So we have come a long ways since the 70's haven't we? In recent years I have seen some situations where a special education student being pulled out is still best for the child. However, by and large, I see that keeping them in the classroom is best. Again, when supports are done properly. My current school has excellent co-teaching situations where student support and success are always put first. Again, I feel bad for you (and your students) that the co-teaching situation is not going well. I hope you can find a way to improve it in the very near future. Be sure to let us know if you need more support.

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