Co-teaching and content knowledge

Discussion in 'General Education' started by RadiantBerg, Nov 23, 2013.

  1. RadiantBerg

    RadiantBerg Cohort

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  3. LouiseB

    LouiseB Cohort

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    Coming from a sped teacher's perspective, I would be horrified if I HAD to teach math that I was uncomfortable with. However, your situation looks like the sped teacher wants to teach. Have you really talked to her about the situation.good luck.
     
  4. orangetea

    orangetea Connoisseur

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    I was in a similar situation last year.

    Does the SPED teacher pull students to work in small groups? The teacher I worked with wasn't comfortable enough with the material to teach the material, so she mainly modified work and learned with the class. I felt bad, but we couldn't find another way to do it. I always shared answers with her so we both circulated to help for group work.
     
  5. Jerseygirlteach

    Jerseygirlteach Groupie

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    I don't know that what I have to say will help you much but anyway...

    Personally, I don't understand how being certified as a special education teacher qualifies a person to teach H.S. math, physics, government, or anything else. In my state, special education teachers must be dual certified to teach. So, if I wanted to co-teach a H.S. math class, I would have to have secondary math certification on top of my sped cert. To get the secondary math cert, I would need 30 college credits of math and a passing score on the H.S. math praxis. This makes sense to me. What does not make sense to me is expecting a sped teacher to be able to teach any or all parts of the H.S. curriculum just because s/he is certified in sped.

    I think your students would be best served if you, a certified math teacher, does the teaching.
     
  6. RadiantBerg

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    Sometimes, however, I feel the weakest students really need the best/most clear explanations to succeed. I do give her my answer keys.
     
  7. RadiantBerg

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    Yes, and she readily admits she isn't a math person, but doesn't want to just be an aide either. I can understand that, but it seems all of the sped teachers here want to be in English or history. There aren't as many qualified for math or science.
     
  8. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    If Khan Academy doesn't work for her, she might do well to spend time with the relevant topic on http://www.mathsisfun.com before the lesson. If she doesn't just want to be an aide and there aren't opportunities that don't go into math, she needs to get more proficient with the content - and she could carve herself out a fine niche in the process.
     
  9. donziejo

    donziejo Devotee

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    I agree with Teacher-Groupie. When I co-taught I did have to be certified in the core content as well as sped.

    I think it's great that you are so willing to work with her as a co-teacher.
     
  10. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    Sounds like a tough situation. I would not be comfortable with handing over instruction to someone that did not completely know what he/she was doing. I won't even have a student teacher who is getting a degree in the subject.
     
  11. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    While I sympathize with your co-teacher, if I had to choose between a colleague feeling like an aide, and my kids getting substandard instruction... It's no contest.
     
  12. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Wow, that makes absolutely no sense to me. Why on earth would she feel she's qualified to co-teach material she hasn't seen since she was a student???

    But, OK, let's go with it. (Knowing, as you guys do, my views on content knowlege, you can appreciate that it's killing me to type this. But hearing my opinions won't help Radiant Berg with his issue, so I'll get right to his question.)

    There are some topics in Geometry that don't require a lot of background-- I would maybe plan to hand over those topics. A lot of them have to do with Coordinate Geometry-- teaching slope, distance, midpoint, (make sure she's careful with the examples where you GIVE the midpoint.) Possibly even equation of a line. (But I would think carefully about that one. Even though it doesn't require a strong background, the explanation has to be clear or you're going to lose the kids.) And definitely the problems on finding the area of a polygon in Coordinate-- you know the ones I mean? Where you box in the polygon, find the area of the box, then subtract until you get the polygon? The kids tend to like that topic and find it easy.

    You could also give her the chapters on Area, Volume and Surface Area. (Exceptions might be the 2 "absinC" formulas, and Heron's formula if she's not good with radicals.) Once the kids get the idea behind Area vs Volume vs Surface Area, they're simply formulas.

    And she could introduce Pythagorean Theorem, but probably hand off the quadratics to you.

    She would have to prep all these, of course, but none really require too much in the way of a background-- unlike topics like proofs.

    Oh, if she's willing to really put in some time learning the material, she could introduce the quadrilaterals. Depending on her algebra background she might be able to do the algebra-based problems on each type of quadrilateral, though she'll have to work hard tokeep all those properties straight.

    As to the rest of the course, I would say the Geometry teacher should be teaching the Geometry. This seems to be more about her ego than about providing the best education for the kids. And the fact that you have to teach her the material before she can teach it to the kids simply isn't fair to anyone. (OK, I couldn't resist inserting that opinion, sorry :) )
     
  13. 2ndTimeAround

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    IME, it just doesn't work well. When it works best is when the sped teacher IS an aide.

    When the sped teacher teaches material she hasn't seen since she was in high school, the whole class suffers. The gen ed teacher has to spend more time reteaching the incorrect topics or elaborating with examples.

    I know sped teachers that passed Praxis exams to get certification. As if one singlular exam can show competence in earth science, biology, physics and chemistry all at once. The idea is ridiculous. Yet they are certified so they feel as though they are just as able as the teacher who has a masters in the specific subject area. Thankfully, when conflicts have arisen, the sped ed teachers were humble enough to recognize the expert in the room and allow the gen ed to reteach material.
     
  14. RadiantBerg

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    She definitely recognizes this, and tells me to jump in if she ever makes any errors.
     
  15. RadiantBerg

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    These are good suggestions. I try to pick topics the students already have some familiarity (i.e. types of triangles, simple formulas as you mentioned, etc.) with to let her try, or simple sections on vocab. Definitely not proofs, or harder application problems.
     
  16. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    I wonder if you could do something like this.....

    To preface my comment, this is where I'm coming from: You are the expert in math content. She is the expert in knowing how students learn.

    Perhaps you can do all of the content teaching, so that your students are not getting confused by explanations from someone who does not fully understand the material. Then, she can help you to plan and adapt assignments and in-class activities. So, that she has moments in which to "present" to or "teach" the class, she can explain those assignments to students as well.

    I don't know what kind of assignments you give.... You may be giving problems from a book, or you may be doing something more interactive. If you're not doing something more interactive, seek her help here. This is where she is supposed to shine. She isn't an aide, so don't treat her like one. Allow her to use her content knowledge (her content being how students learn) to help make your class more engaging and interactive and less from the book (if that's how you currently teach and assign problems).
     
  17. BumbleB

    BumbleB Habitué

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    Have her read things aloud (assignments, directions). Does she have time to plan with the math teachers? That might make her (and you) feel more comfortable.

    I understand your reservation, though. I'm the SPED side of a co-teaching team, but I only teach one subject all day. When someone is bopping around to different classrooms/subjects, it's hard to find a place where they can be useful. One of the downfalls to co-teaching.
     
  18. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    This! I understand her not wanting to be an aide, but she should really know the content well before teaching it, for the students´sake. I would try to talk to her about it and explain that you want her to be part of the class, and the two of you can find oppurtunities to make that happen, but that she really needs to know the content before teaching it. I know that will not be an easy conversation, but for the sake of your students it seems like it is a necessary conversation.
     
  19. Special-t

    Special-t Enthusiast

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    I am a Geometry co-teacher, so ... I'm actually surprised that she wants to teach lessons to the whole class that she is only slightly competent to teach. I'm not clear if she is just inexperienced and thinks she has to be a co-lead teacher or if this is your school policy. There are many models for co-teaching. She has to do what's best for the students, not what she finds personally rewarding. If your school doesn't requIre her to stand at the board and teach, I would let her know that she needs to be in a tutorial role until she more thoroughly learns the concepts.

    After 3 years, I can teach most of the procedures - and I do reteach them in my math tutorials ... But I still would rather have the expert teach the concepts to the class. (By the way, I'd find it much easier to teach Algebra, and have taken over when there is a sub or if the teacher leaves the room. Geometry is somewhat of an art to teach because of the logic and proofs.)

    Here's the model we use. I'm introduced as a co-teacher who will helping all the students. During direct instruction, I take notes and ask questions or suggest alternate ways of approaching a problems. I raise my hand like a student and model curiosity and logical thinking. During classwork, the teacher and I circulate and work with individuals and groups. I sometimes pull out the sped students to a nearby classroom (1 at a time or as a group) if they need extra direct instruction. When I'm circulating, I let the math teacher know if I see any common misconceptions so he can reteach.

    Another thing that works well in a large class, is to break up the class into large groups and have the adults sit with each group to re-teach different concepts. You can ask the co-teacher which topic she feels most confident re-teaching.

    Anyway ... Bottom line is not to let her interfere with students who are counting on learning the material well enough to score well on SATs, etc. if I were a parent, I would not be happy that my child was being taught a core math subject by a special education teacher unless he/she had a degree or subject matter competence in math.
     
  20. dave1mo

    dave1mo Comrade

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    What a terrible waste of a resource. Might as well just hire an aide and save the expense.
     
  21. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Then the school wouldn't be legally covered and have a defensible IEP that shows special education minutes for areas in which the students need services....

    While a lot of people like to blame parents pushing their special education kids into inclusion classroom, the real change came when NCLB came around and all students had to have a highly qualified teacher teaching the content to the students. This caused a major problem in special education in MS and HS because now the teacher had to have certification in content courses. To get around this, schools started creating co-taught classes and putting more and more special education students in co-taught classes.
     
  22. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    I have usually co-taught with my Special Ed counterpart as the student advocate. Since my strength is the material and hers is the skills, I tend to take the lead when introducing new material. My co-teacher does amazing work showing how what we already have learned links to what we are currently learning. She also has no problem stopping me cold in the middle of a lesson when she realizes I'm in danger of going over the heads of any of my students. We talk over each other on occasion, but we also finish each other's sentences.

    In a class where the Special Ed teacher may not be as familiar with the new material, perhaps that work in scaffolding, pointing back to previously acquired learning, and clarification may be the best mode. That gives your counterpart the ability to run reviews and previews.
     
  23. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    ITA. But that isn't the current trend.
     
  24. Jerseygirlteach

    Jerseygirlteach Groupie

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    An aide wouldn't be an asset if s/he is neither trained in special education or skilled in the content area. The students are best served by a certified teacher who possesses both.
     
  25. dave1mo

    dave1mo Comrade

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    Or we could actually co-teach appropriately with the SPED teacher instead of them being treated like an aide?
     
  26. dave1mo

    dave1mo Comrade

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    I co-teach with a SPED teacher in my high school English classes.

    I also treat her as a co-teacher and peer, not as an aide. We plan together and plan units and assessments with equal input. That willingness to collaborate for the benefit of the students is a significant factor in our students' growth and success.
     
  27. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    Glad it works for you.

    I would imagine it would be easier for most college educated professionals to learn what is needed to teach a lesson in an English class than it would be for say, a geometry or chemistry class.
     
  28. dave1mo

    dave1mo Comrade

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    Ah, elitism. It's been a couple hours since we've seen that on this board.
     
  29. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    Elitism. Or simple reality that somebody who isn't supposed to be a curriculum expert would have an easier time contributing in an English class than a chemistry or geometry class.

    I have a TVI with me almost the entire day for my blind student. Of the four main content areas, I'll give you three guesses which one she leans on me the most for, and your first two guesses won't count.
     
  30. orangetea

    orangetea Connoisseur

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    How do you co-teach appropriately when one teacher isn't capable of teaching the material?
     
  31. BumbleB

    BumbleB Habitué

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    This is how my situation works, as well. However, I think Radiant's issue is that the SPED teacher works with so many other teachers that it's nearly impossible to do this (time constraints).

    We are lucky...that is how co-teaching SHOULD be. But not everyone is as lucky.
     
  32. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    An honest question, since this is so far out of my experience:
    What is the job description of the Special Education teacher in the room? Obviously, it's not to teach Geometry, since she's not qualified to do so. So what IS she technically supposed to be doing?
     
  33. SouthernBuckeye

    SouthernBuckeye Companion

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    Last year I worked at a high school and my assignment was to co-teach math as a SPED teacher. I am certified in math for grades 6-9, and for K-12 SPED.

    At first I was in a pre-Algebra class, which I was more than fine with co-teaching since most of that material fell under my certification, but then my principal switched me and another SPED and suddenly I was thrown into geometry and a "special topics" class. I hadn't done geometry in ages, and the "special topics" class actually had pre-calc concepts in it, and I never went beyond Algebra II in high school, and didn't have much math in undergrad since my degree is in SPED.

    Needless to say, at best I managed to stay a day ahead of the kids and I hated it. And I have a strong math brain (you're talking to someone who is going back to school for engineering). But it's slightly different being up there panicking, and them asking a question you don't know how to answer. Sometimes, the regular teacher would call me on my planning and give me 15 minutes notice that I would be teaching that day. UGH!

    I didn't have common planning with any of the teachers I had to work with and one went behind my back to the P and told him I don't "do enough." Well, of course not! I can't teach pre-calc topics I don't know...but I also felt worthless just acting as an aide. :(

    I am glad I am getting out of teaching. Too many issues.
     

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