Co-teaching in math...help!

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Iheartmath, Jul 31, 2013.

  1. Iheartmath

    Iheartmath Rookie

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    Jul 31, 2013

    Hi,
    I've been teaching math for 15 years. This school year, I will have a co-teacher for the first time (in 2 of my 8th grade math classes.) This is all new to me, so I would like some input from anyone who has been successful with co-teaching in math.

    My concerns:
    1. No training has been provided for the regular ed teachers in the district.
    2. I'm concerned the regular ed students' progress be slowed down as we make sure the special ed students (many of who can't multiply) are caught up on a daily basis.
    3. The special ed teacher has expressed a desire to teach the whole class, but has no experience teaching math.
    4. We're only free together 1 period a day...but that's when we also need to prep for our other classes!

    I just don't know where to start, and am feeling very overwhelmed! Thanks for any help/ideas you can share! I've worked so hard these years so be successful at my job, and want this to go well.
     
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  3. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Jul 31, 2013

    My district actually provided us (a large group of PK-12 special educators) with a brief training on this today. The gist of their message to sped teachers was this:
    Both parties, the sped teacher and the regular ed. teacher can and should be bringing something EQUAL, yet DIFFERENT to the table. Sped teachers don't have the same training as reg. ed. teachers do in content areas, particularly at the secondary level. Offer support where you are trained to offer support. Don't pretend that you have extensive knowledge in an area that you don't.

    As the bopper said, treat your co-teacher as if he/she is, in fact, a fellow teacher, not an aide. Just be aware and honest about the fact that you know things he/she doesn't, and he/she knows things you don't. Support each other by using your individual strengths and weaknesses.

    I also agree with bopper that kids extremely well-below grade-level should probably not be in regular ed. class, even if it is co-taught. Unless your school is doing something totally inappropriate, I doubt you'll encounter this. If you do, though, this would be the perfect opportunity to utilize your co-teacher's area of expertise. He/she should have knowledge of how to modify for these struggling students, while you have knowledge of the general curriculum.

    Finally, be thankful that you have even one plan period together per day. Many teachers are not so lucky. I would suggest planning 20 min or so once a week (or more as needed) to discuss anything you need to. This would give you time to touch base on your shared class but also time to prepare for your other classes.

    Good luck!
     
  4. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Jul 31, 2013

    My co-teacher and I would set aside one plan period a week to meet together. During this time, I would present the standards that we needed to teach and lesson ideas from previous years. My co-teacher would present new ways to look at the concepts, to break down the concepts, note-taking strategies, and reading strategies for the students. We would also plan out any assignments and tests that were upcoming.

    As for teaching, the way you share the classroom really depends on the two of you. I would often teach new concepts to the students, while my co-teacher would teach review lessons or test prep lessons. After a few years of working together, we knew the material so well that we would split the class and parallel teach or each teach a different lesson to a small group.
     
  5. orangetea

    orangetea Connoisseur

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    Jul 31, 2013

    I co-taught an Elementary Algebra class with a special education teacher last year. It was a different situation from yours because most of the students in that class were special ed students. (The general ed students took Algebra 1 or Geometry.) I also didn't receive any training and we weren't sure how co-teaching was going to work. We also didn't have time to meet and plan lessons together. For the most part, I taught the lessons with her help on occasion, and we both helped out equally during individual work and group work time. I kept the lessons short for the most part so it wasn't a huge problem, but I think we could have done a better job. She also pulled kids out who were struggling to re-teach, which I found helpful.
     
  6. Special-t

    Special-t Enthusiast

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    Jul 31, 2013

    I'm a SPED math (algebra 1&2, geometry) co-teacher (for 2 years). I don't like teaching the whole class unless I'm very comfortable with a particular topic. Usually, I watch and circulate during the lecture. I raise my hand and ask questions if I see a multiple students struggling with something. I ask clarifying questions. If I see an alternate way to solve something, I usually approach the teacher first so I don't throw a wrench into the lesson.

    Just an FYI, your co-teacher may be saying she wants to teach the whole group because she thinks its expected. So I would let her know what you feel comfortable with.

    I do usually act in an assistant position as far as direct instruction goes, but I'm always busy. I'm surprised when I hear SPED teachers say they don't have enough to do if they are not doing direct instruction. During that time, I help my students stay on task, I take notes for when I pull out my students, I sometimes pull out my students to a smaller group in another room to teach them a topic that I'm comfortable with. During guided practice, I help all the students.

    Another poster mentioned parallel teaching. We did that last year in Algebra 1 because I feel confident teaching that subject. We (teacher,student teacher and I) split the class into table groups. That worked really well for us and the students.
     
  7. ready2learn

    ready2learn Comrade

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    Jul 31, 2013

    I did this the first time in a middle school math classroom last year and enjoyed it. I will say that I wish we had more time to plan together. There was a lot that we had the chance to do when my coteacher and I were at our best. We could call students back to go over topics or reteach them, we could have 2 teachers monitoring student work, or we could do a lot of station teaching. There were also times that we would split the class into 2 sections and go over the same thing just with smaller groups. It helped to be able to present information in a variety of different ways to students and the students really benefited in the end. Good luck, and I hope you find a good balance with your coteacher.
     
  8. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Aug 1, 2013

    This is exactly what I did when co-teaching.
     
  9. Aussiegirl

    Aussiegirl Habitué

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    Aug 1, 2013

    Luckily we had extensive training and observation through a program in the local university. But, it has been said that co-teachers should work together for at least 3 years in a row to help with consistency. OUr school bounced them around. You never knew till the last minute if you were going to have a co-teacher, who it would be, etc.

    Much of what we did was similar to what Mopar stated. I haven't had a co-teacher for several years, but that will change this year. I will be co-teaching with a brand new SPED teacher. I'm a little concerned because I don't know this person, or how well we will work together. I've had co-teachers who would try to take over and made me feel like I didn't know how to teach, one who literally had to babysit one student while I tried to juggle the rest of the class which included other very needy students, and one whose energy level was at the opposite extreme from mine, which caused some issues.

    I wish you luck. Do treat the person as a peer - they are. Be open to suggestions; I did learn some techniques which have been helpful with my reg. ed. kids. Do not be afraid to ask them to also help grade all student's work from the class you share.
     
  10. GemStone

    GemStone Habitué

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    Aug 2, 2013

    Placement determination is made by the IEP team. Some children who are severely below grade level ARE, in fact, included in the general ed classrooms. That usually does a disservice to everyone, but the IEP is a legally binding document, and placement determinations must be followed.
     
  11. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Aug 2, 2013

    Yes, I understand that. I deal with that on a daily basis. My point was that it would probably be inappropriate for the IEP team to place a student who is severely disabled and more than 5+ grade-levels below in that class. It happens, but that doesn't mean it should. In any case, it depends on the student's individual needs and abilities.

    But I don't teach high school... So I will admit that I don't know exactly how things are done at that level. I can only use my background knowledge to make such statements.
     
  12. iteachbx

    iteachbx Enthusiast

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    Aug 2, 2013

    You might need to sacrifice some of your "prep" time in order to have more time to plan/discuss together. Or do it before/after school. It doesn't sound ideal, but sitting down to plan together and keeping communicate open will really make a difference in whether or not this is going to go smoothly for you.
     
  13. Iheartmath

    Iheartmath Rookie

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    Aug 5, 2013

    Thanks so much for your input. Very helpful, because I'm meeting with my co-teacher later this week!

    I'll definitely want our planning time to be at regular times each week so other things don't crowd out the time we need. We both really like the idea of splitting the class a few times a week for needed review, or acceleration.

    We'll see how it goes!
     

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