co-teaching with sped teacher - Questions

Discussion in 'General Education' started by creativemonster, Dec 9, 2016.

  1. LouiseB

    LouiseB Cohort

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    Just to let you know, none of our high school core teachers are certified in special education. The only special education classes that are required for certification is one introductory class. Most of the teachers have Masters degrees but those are in their subject areas. If I don't help with my sped knowledge and paras, there would not be help. Thank you for seeing that there are situations where being certified in all areas is not always possible. As for working with other schools, in our area, for kids who have difficult behavior issues, there is a separate school they attend before returning to our school. Again as to sped, this includes most students with Learning Disabilities, Autism and ADHD that are in the regular classroom. See Catnfiddle post for what happens in my district.
     
  2. a2z

    a2z Phenom

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    Can someone who is saying that a special education teacher does not have to be an expert in the content area in which they are supporting a student explain their specially-designed instruction for the different students with different needs in that content area? If there is no specially-designed instruction there really is no special education.
     
  3. creativemonster

    creativemonster Comrade

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    I think this is super helpful. ...wow - I'm glad I asked my question about how to best use BOTH the content teacher and the sped teacher TOGETHER to help our students succeed. I see now that this is more of a hot button issue than I realize. Louise, I suspect our new teacher will be in the same position as you - not having time to plan with teachers ahead - which is part of what led me to ask the question- We might get together during our winter break, or not, depending on how we both feel - we might just email - but this is helping me tons to see where our focus might be.
     
  4. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    Our HS SPED teachers have to be "highly qualified" in SPED and in the area that they're supporting. Since I teach elementary, I'm honestly not sure if this is a district rule or state law. I imagine it would be difficult for really small, rural districts to implement that. I'm in an urban area. Our HS has teachers that are highly qualified in Science, SS, Math, and ELA in addition to their sped certifications. While that's great for them, the bad part for us is that the district is spending so much on HS that they then save money by cutting from the elementary schools. Since someone can be certified in sped and elementary ed to teach all subjects, they can get away with just having one sped teacher for the entire school. The HS staff has 12-15 kids on their caseloads and at the elementary schools it's more like 30-45.

    At my college we weren't allowed to just major in sped; you had to pick a general ed area to major in as well, so you wouldn't have anyone with just a sped endorsement. Again, I'm not sure if that was just my school or a statewide thing. Although I went to college in my home state I've never actually taught there.
     
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  5. geoteacher

    geoteacher Habitué

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    As you can see, this is a tough question. In an ideal world, the gen ed teacher and the sped teacher would each teach elements of the class. In reality, the gen ed teacher is usually the content expert, while the apes teacher focuses more on reteaching and supporting students. Personally, I would love to see more of a team effort, but I just don't see it happening. It tends to be more of a time issue than anything.
     
  6. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    I'm failing to understand why this IS such a hot button issue. My SpEd counterpart has received HQT in all four major subjects, but she is not an expert in Biology, Economics, or Pre-Calculus. She is absolutely an expert on how to take the lessons from these subjects, as originally taught by the content area teachers, and scaffold / support the students who have specific or general learning disabilities. She does things I cannot do, and vice versa. This is why I refer to her as my counterpart.
     
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  7. LouiseB

    LouiseB Cohort

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    What do you teach to be an expert in special education?
     
  8. a2z

    a2z Phenom

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    How do someone re-teach and teach in a different way when you don't really know the content inside and out and backwards?
     
  9. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    That seems like it would be a lot of work to be highly qualified in all four subjects! Even if it's just passing an extra Praxis test, I would imagine that would still be a lot of work to be knowledgeable enough in all four areas. Is that a requirement or something your sped teacher just decided to do? Does she get extra money for having all of the certifications? I just can't imagine there would be that many people willing or able to do all of that (I know the job market is much tighter where you are, here it's hard to find sped teachers in the first place). I think what you're describing is a bit different than someone who literally has no knowledge of the content area at all. Even if your sped teacher is not as much of an "expert" on specific subjects within a content area, at least she has a good knowledge base of the general subject. I think the more "hot button issue" would be if someone like me ended up using my K-12 sped license for co-teaching in high school math classes. Math was my weakest subject at school and since advanced math is something I never need to use day to day, I'm pretty sure I remember next to nothing about what I learned in my HS math classes. Even though I have a lot of knowledge about processing skills, accommodations, modifying content, etc. I wouldn't feel at all adequate providing "specialized instruction" when I don't remember the general content myself. I can't imagine trying to "fill in gaps" without really having an understanding of the content the kids are working to master in the first place.


    It sounds like you two have a great thing going and you're lucky to have each other! When I was in college we were always asking our professors to find a good, real-life example of a gen ed and sped pair that did "real" co-teaching and had a good working relationship (rather than the sped teacher being an aide, which is what we always saw in our field placements) and they could never find one! It's rare to have what you have.
     
  10. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    Maybe it was an elementary thing, but back when I was a SPED teacher, I always felt like I needed to know the content at least as well as the general education teacher to effectively reteach and remediate the material.
     
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  11. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    Dec 12, 2016

    I would imagine that that would be MUCH easier in elementary school than in high school. And to expect the SPED to know MORE than the general ed teacher, as was a2z's suggestion? - no way!
     
  12. a2z

    a2z Phenom

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    Agreed, gr3.

    The special education teacher must do with the content what is expected beyond what the general education teacher is expected to do. They not only have to understand the content but must know how to break it down it different ways, teach it in different ways, and understand how student deficits impact learning the material and application of that material. They must do more with it than just parrot back what was said by the gen ed teacher.

    I surely don't know how anyone can be effective if they don't know the content extremely well and then know the special education strategies on top of it.
     
  13. LouiseB

    LouiseB Cohort

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    I thought the general ed teacher was to do what you just posted a2z
     
  14. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Can we agree to disagree based on the expectations of our respective districts and programs? The important thing is there needs to be a clear Venn Diagram with a division of labor with plenty of overlapping areas.

    Honestly, I cannot imagine demanding a SpEd teacher have full content ability in my class. I wouldn't be needed. However, I don't have the full spectrum of Level 3 interventions, so I'm definitely not as good solo as I am with a counterpart.
     
  15. FourSquare

    FourSquare Fanatic

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    Dec 12, 2016

    I co-teach Math. I'm not Math endorsed. We make it go. The Gen Ed teacher mostly focuses on planning grade-level content. We work together to figure out where learning breaks down for any struggling student, IEP or not, and I pull small groups for below grade level remediation skills. She is good at saying "It looks like these kids cannot do XYZ because they do not know ABC." Then I go plan and find materials, etc. I actually used to teach gen ed primary and intermediate, and I see 1,000 instances where something was not mastered in 3rd-5th grade that is now holding kids back in 6th-8th grade. Sometimes I suggest quick reviews of those skills.

    Logistically speaking, we keep a similar routine. I pull 1 student with an IEP to preview the day's lesson while other students are doing a mental math bellringer. I'm not doing anything terribly different than what she does, but we've found this little sneak preview lessens his anxiety tremendously. After that, we pop back in for the main lesson. I float between this student and 3 other students with IEPs to make sure they're documenting notes correctly, or sometimes, providing modified notes. These students tend to struggle with processing the information and writing at the same time. For this reason, I sometimes cue her if I feel like the class needs a little more wait time, but we don't just stop for the students with IEPs. I make note to catch them up later if I need to and encourage them to focus on the modeling/discussion.

    Following the lesson, there is always some sort of independent or collaborative practice. I might give students with IEPs fewer problems or parallel problems with whole numbers or something more straightforward. I try to work with different kids to scaffold assignments, because she always asks for volunteers to share their work on the document camera, right or wrong. Then the class analyzes the work for different strategies. The kids with IEPs almost NEVER want to share....but last week one of my students was the only one to find a solution to a problem! :D

    :celebrate:!!!!!!!!

    I feel very respected. I don't feel like an aide. And frankly, I don't want to lead any of the whole group lessons anyway. Math is not my area of expertise. Now, Social Studies looks a lot different....
     
  16. Rosanne

    Rosanne New Member

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    Jan 10, 2017

    I'm a special ed teacher at a high school and I know my subject inside and out. However I'm still treated as if I can't be trusted to introduce new concepts or correct assessments. I'm tired of coteaching in school districts that don't know how to implement it. At the beginning of the year I cotaught a ninth grade class with the regular Ed teacher who had driven 4 other teachers before me to a new position in the school. Administration knew she was a serious problem and did nothing about it. They have since split the class and we now teach separately because she is undeniably unfit. One of my other co-teachers consistently asks me to do things such as take attendance and check homework and post class notes etc. etc. while she teaches and tells me what to do. Every idea I have is met with a no. Co planning is stressful. Walking into "her" classroom is stressful because I never know if she's going to be annoyed by something I did or didn't do. Opening my mouth in class is stressful because I never know if she's going to shoot me down or correct me or tell me what to do In front of the students. Materials I create or scrutinize. My teaching methods are scrutinized. The most stressful thing is half the class is failing and she seems to think that doesn't warrant any changes. She and my other coteacher believe firmly that if students are feeling it is their fault because they are lazy. I have more experience than either teacher and I know they're wrong. But because they're certified in the subject, they think that makes them better teachers. I keep explaining that the reason these kids who struggle are in this class is because I'm here as the special ed learning specialist who is supposed to be actually co-teaching and providing differentiation to all students not just those with an IEP.Any suggestions? How can I getadministration to actually make the general ed teachers work cooperatively with special edteachers? I keep trying to explain what co-teaching is supposed to bebut my co teachers treat me like an assistant or like I'm invisible. Not sure why I went to college and then graduate school for this.
     
  17. creativemonster

    creativemonster Comrade

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    Jan 11, 2017

    This is an area that I might ask our admin to cover in professional development meetings or at least request that principal check in to see if staff wants this covered in pd. Sped teacher and I have met but neither of us know how much time we will get to meet during semester and I am only one out of several teachers he will be working with. I keep going back to the question of what SKILLS do our students need help with in order to master the content standards? Thank you to catnfiddle for that. I have carried that into our meetings and it has helped a lot!
     
  18. LouiseB

    LouiseB Cohort

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    I doubt if reg ed would want any training on it. Anything sped is just sent back to the sped teachers as it is our problem. I don't want to start any kind of sped vs. reg ed issues at all. Just a perspective from my side of sped. I can say it all relates to what the principal does about it.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2017

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