Co-teaching tips!

Discussion in 'General Education' started by FourSquare, Apr 26, 2014.

  1. FourSquare

    FourSquare Fanatic

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    Tentative rosters have come out....it appears I've got 2 periods of co-teaching/inclusion next year. :crosseyed I will be in one Science and one Social Studies class for 7th grade.

    I am not...thrilled. Co-teaching is mostly fake at my school. Teachers follow the "teach/assist" model and get treated like aides. I am NOT an aide.

    My Principal asked me if I was okay. :lol: She said she really wanted to see legit co-teaching piloted at our school, and that she believed I'd be the best one to start it. (?!?!?) I will supposedly be supported with resources and common planning time. All that is great, but these teachers have NOT done this before...and they are not terribly open-minded to the idea.

    Any advice on easing the transition and/or making it work? I am nervous. Science will be okay....but the Social Studies teacher is totally burned out and old school. She just reads from the book every period. They want me to implement small group instruction with her. :eek:
     
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  3. HistoryVA

    HistoryVA Devotee

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    And here I am entering inclusion for the first time next year with a bunch of sped teachers who don't want to do anything BUT assist and usually refuse to work with any kids except the ones on their case load. :rolleyes:

    So, I'm coming in from the other end. Tell ya what, you come to VA and be MY co-teacher and I'll send our "co-teachers" to your school to assist. :p

    No advice, but eager to hear from others who've made it work.
     
  4. FourSquare

    FourSquare Fanatic

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    Oh, no! I want to work with all the kids if I can. This is SO boring to me.

    I'm so afraid that's what they're going to want me to do. I can't just "walk around and help" every day. :banghead:
     
  5. Go Blue!

    Go Blue! Connoisseur

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    I am confused about this "entering inclusion." Do you mean that you have never had any IEP kids in your classes before? And, now that are getting IEP kids in your class, you automatically get a co-teacher? Who teaches all of the IEP kids at your school?

    I didn't know there were places were all HS IEP kids were in SPED classes (or self-contained) all day long and never in general ed unless they were Life Skills kids.
     
  6. agdamity

    agdamity Fanatic

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    You have to communicate. Often. Before school starts, sit down with the teachers and have an open discussion about how both of you see the classroom running. Make an effort to learn the curriculum. I once co-taught with a sped teacher who made zero effort to understand the material, but was mad she didn't get to teach lessons/ do more groups. Let the gen ed teacher know how to provide accommodations during the lesson. If you have a great idea, share it!! I've been frustrated in the gen ed role at times because I wasn't reaching a sped student, and my co-teacher never had suggestions when I asked him what I/ we could change.

    Look up Lisa Dieker. I went to a training she did this year, and she is FABULOUS!! I learned so much. This has been my best year co-teaching.
     
  7. ready2learn

    ready2learn Comrade

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    I don't have the experience of a special education teacher but as a regular classroom teacher who has been successful with co-teaching I will offer some advice.

    The biggest thing is communication. Both teachers have to realize that it isn't just their class and take the other teacher's opinion seriously. I have had someone I coteach with tell me before that it would be a good place to mix up the lesson and do something different when I was in a rut doing the same thing in class each day. The times that I plan with my co-teacher (we don't always have common planning) she will offer suggestions such as, "this would be a good day for groups" or "how about we use this time to pull some struggling students."

    Also, as the special education teacher let the regular classroom teacher know you are wanting to jump in and do some teaching. With the person I co-teach with right now, we do too much one teach-one assist. Honestly, she isn't too comfortable with the content. I have co-taught with people before though who have asked to teach certain lessons. It was wonderful because it gave me a break from standing in front of the room teaching. It was great! The lady I co-teach right now with does get involved despite not being up front teaching. If we plan on doing stations she volunteers to create some of the stations. If I am helping a student individually and it is time to go over a problem in class and she is not helping a student, she will go over that problem with the class. If I am planning on students to copy down a lot of notes in other classes, she has suggested creating a guided notes worksheet and then has created it. My inclusion classroom is such that I cannot do the same lessons in there I can do in my other classes so her helping create things really stops me from having to plan a whole new lesson.

    Good luck to you. I realize a lot of what I have written depends on your relationship with the regular classroom teacher. I went to a special education conference with the lady I co-teach with in March and I couldn't believe some of the horror stories I heard from the special education teachers who were there.
     
  8. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    I was a special ed teacher for three years. I had the opportunity to co-teach with eight different teachers. Two of those were complete failures. The rest were generally successful. Unfortunately, the success of a co-teaching model will largely come down to the attitude of the general education teacher. If they want to see you as an equal partner, it can work beautifully. If they see you as being in the way... it'll be a long year.

    One thing that helped in the successful situations was establishing roles at the beginning of the year. For example, I co-taught 6th grade math for two years with a new teacher. We established early on that, every day, I would go over the homework with the class, while she walked around the room and checked homework. We established that there were parts of the lesson that I would run, parts that she would run, and we figured out exactly what each of us would do when it wasn't our turn "on the stage." We didn't follow that exactly every day, of course, but it was a general outline. We also worked out a couple "jump-in" scenarios early in the year (but Mr. gr3, what about...?) that made it more comfortable for us to add themselves to a lesson. Basically, most days, all the students would have seen both of us as being THE teacher in the room until we actually started doing independent practice.

    I think a lot of it comes down to your feelings, too. Walking into another teacher's classroom is tough. You need to have the self-confidence to know that you ARE a teacher, and you DO have the ability to make the class better. I think it's easy for SPED teachers to be passive. If you go into the co-teaching situation being too passive, you'll end up being an aide, and you'll probably never fix it.

    Also... please, for the love of god, don't ever walk into the classroom and ask what you're doing that day. I've heard of special ed teachers like that. I'm sure you wouldn't do that... but just pointing it out!
     
  9. Loveslabs

    Loveslabs Companion

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    Apr 27, 2014

    That's wrong!!!! No teacher should ever have that mentality about any of the students.
     
  10. 2ndTimeAround

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    I think "they" need to sit down with you and the general ed teachers and lay out their expectations about the classes TOGETHER. That's the first step.

    I'm still not getting (after years on this forum) how a sped teacher could be better qualified to teach my content area than I am. Even if they do have separate licensing for the subject. I have become consistently better year after year, teaching the subject at least four times each year. To assume that someone else is just as good as I am because she has a piece of paper is silly. And why would we prefer having a sped teacher who doesn't know the content teach a lesson than the person who is best qualified in the room?

    Heck, I sometimes go to other gen ed teachers' rooms and teach a lesson for them because I have a better grasp of the content than they do. And these are people with full degrees in the subject matter!
     
  11. Special-t

    Special-t Enthusiast

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    I'm in agreement about the expert teaching content. Particularly in secondary classrooms, and particularly in math or science. Now that, at least in our state, common core Algebra is a middle school class, the content has become very deep, even in 7th and 8th grade. A teacher really needs depth of knowledge to access these standards.

    That said, however, I've now been co teaching in high school math classes for 3 years and a have enough content experience to lead certain parts of lessons. I can review homework and steps. Because I've co taught with a variety of math teachers, I sometimes know different approaches to teaching a particular type of problem. (Sometimes I will explain the method to the math teacher and have them explain to the class if they like the method). I can work with small groups in rotations. My degree is in ELA, so with the new focus on reading in math, I'm expert at breaking down prompts and teaching students how to express themselves in writing. I can spot areas where students are struggling and ask the teacher to clarify these areas. I often pull my students during independent work and re-teach concepts. And I've created a tutorial class that I teach myself so my students get a double block of math. My students are very successful in math and I take a lot of pride in my role as their math tutor.

    I've found that in high school, with little common planning time, it's difficult to actually co-deliver lessons. But I'm so busy in a the role I've described, that I'm never bored and I never feel that I'm less of a teacher.
     
  12. 2ndTimeAround

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    Apr 27, 2014

    That sounds like an ideal situation.

    What role do you have in determining grades for any/all of the students in your classroom?
     
  13. HistoryVA

    HistoryVA Devotee

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    No, our students aren't in self-contained. However, I've never had students with IEPs that required a level of assistance that needed a co-teacher. In my district/state/school (I have NO idea what level this call is made at?), if an IEP just says something like "seating at front of room, redirection, extra time on assignments, etc", then there's no need for a co-teacher, but the minute you get a student with an IEP that says something like "small group, read aloud testing, etc", then you get a co-teacher.

    My dep chair is very careful about dividing the "extra" work. So, for instance, we had 4 sophomore US History teachers this year. 2 of us had 2 different subjects to teach, 1 had 1/2 reg classes and 1/2 honors and 1 (which has never been me before) has all US History students that require a co-teacher. So he had 7-8 per class and a co-teacher in every block. It's been the same teacher for the 4 years I've been there and he loves it (although even his co-teacher is a flake), so he keeps that "duty" every year.

    Next year, though, I'm going to be working with incoming freshmen with IEP, so I'll have a co-teacher for the first time.
     
  14. FourSquare

    FourSquare Fanatic

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    Apr 27, 2014

    Thank you for all of your posts.

    I actually do have a Social Studies endorsement for middle school. (SS and LA) I do not have a Science endorsement, and I am admittedly less comfortable with the content, but I am not Uncomfortable. I have been doing Science with my self-contained kids for 2 years.

    The Science teacher is amazing at what she does...but I think she will have trouble relinquishing some control. I will need to do some relationship building there. However, we have similar teaching styles. This should help.

    Social Studies is going to be a challenge. I am very very hands on and interactive....I have to be...because my kids with reading disabilities often can't just read the book and retain information. I have made suggestions to this teacher before about potentially doing small groups with a historical fiction novel, performance skits, etc. She insists our kids "can't do that." :unsure: I am praying for patience! :whistle:
     
  15. 2ndTimeAround

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    Whose name is associated with the end of grade test scores?

    In my district teachers that coteach are 50% responsible for the scores (which are part of our evaluation) of all of the sped children in the classroom in a coteaching situation.

    I would be very hesitant to have my scores (which again, are part of my evaluation and CANNOT be adjusted by administration) impacted by another adult's choices. If I have experience with students doing a hands-on activity with a lesson and feel like it won't work, I might balk too. I would be willing to try it if the activity was a supplement and did not take away too much time. Or I might suggest the teacher do it with a select group of students if she is insistent. But I would not do something I felt would be negative for the rest of the students. That includes radically changing the pacing of the course.

    I would also expect her to balk if she really feels like her ideas would work and not mine since she too is being evaluated on those scores.
     
  16. FourSquare

    FourSquare Fanatic

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    We don't have test scores for Science and Social Studies. For now!
     
  17. Jerseygirlteach

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    I'm not doubting you, and I'm not trying to go off-topic, but I'm curious as to how you know that is all the SPED teachers you work with want to do. I'm asking because - as I said in another thread - I've heard from many inclusion teachers that they feel unwelcome to lead or co-lead in a gen-ed classroom and I also hear your sentiment from gen-ed teachers. It's basically "My inclusion teachers gets paid as much as I do and is basically just a glorified aide." I could be wrong, but I have a strong feeling that if you had a heart-to-heart with some of these sped teachers and let them know how open you are to collaboration, at least some of them might surprise you.

    I'm not an inclusion teacher; I have a self-contained class. However, if I was an inclusion teacher and the gen ed teacher did not make it clear that s/he was receptive to collaboration, I probably would just act like an aide, hating every minute of it. That's me, anyway.
     
  18. HistoryVA

    HistoryVA Devotee

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    There are amazing sped teachers in my school... in other departments. When it was decided that I would be heading up a new class next year (all incoming freshmen, all sped, 15 kids max, 2 teachers), I went to each of the 4 sped teachers assigned to my department and laid out what I was looking for --> 50/50 work, small groups, tons of interaction, read alouds for all tests, full-time in the classroom. Every single one said that it was "too much" and they liked being in classroom with "less responsibility." They said 15 was too many for one classroom (usually it's 6-7 out of 30). When I pointed out that the 15 would be the ONLY students, they replied "yeah, but I never work with the other 24, just my 6." They also said that they often left their assigned classes to attend meetings instead of having to meet during their planning periods.

    I'm currently trying to maneuver a trade from another department. Somehow, we just "lucked out" with 4 who just want to assist.
     
  19. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    Part of the problem, in Virginia at least, is that a special ed teacher can be assigned to a class they aren't highly qualified for. I don't know if it's common to do that, but it's legal to do. I'd like to think that bigger schools, at least, would try to put highly qualified SPED teachers in their content areas, but it isn't a requirement.
     
  20. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    Although I can't imagine a teacher being in a room not willing to work with other students. I mean... if three kids have the same need on a particular concept, and only two of them have IEPs, why wouldn't you bring the third kiddo into the small group? Even if I wasn't comfortable with the curriculum, I'd still do that much. For that matter, if they aren't comfortable with the curriculum, I'd rather they monitor the whole group while I worked with the neediest kids.
     
  21. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    Isn't that because as long as one teacher is highly qualified in the class it is sufficient.

    I've never understood the idea that a special education teacher's credentials was sufficient to teach a student in any content area.

    We have had special education teachers teaching self-contained classes in areas they weren't certified because they were supplemental or elective classes such as reading. Now, why on Earth would someone put someone be placed as the reading teacher for kids that are years behind in high school and need significant and specialized help when the teacher doesn't have a clue how to teach reading. Yet it happens because the class doesn't need a highly qualified teacher for the elective course. Then the school claims they are doing everything to help the students .
     
  22. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    The theory is that the classroom teacher is the curriculum expert, and the SPED teacher is the differentiation expert. Personally, I think that's a load of phooey. I was a special ed teacher, and you bet your behind that I knew the curriculum at least as well as the classroom teacher.
     
  23. FourSquare

    FourSquare Fanatic

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    Well....I don't think anyone should teach Reading without an actual Reading endorsement/background (NOT Language Arts), but that's another thread for another day! :)
     
  24. Jerseygirlteach

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    I agree that it doesn't make sense and my state agrees with me. In NJ, one must be dual-certified in sped and the content area to teach in to sped kids. Therefore, they need the same credentials as a gen ed teacher plus sped credentials. Neither of these credentials are easily obtained here, but the competition for jobs is so fierce that there are plenty of qualified candidates for these positions.
     
  25. 2ndTimeAround

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    Maybe at the elementary level but I doubt that's the case at the high school level.
     
  26. Special-t

    Special-t Enthusiast

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    Would you feel that way if you were assigned to an Algebra 2 class or Chemistry? (Both classes are required for graduation in my district,so we are assigned to co teach them.) I get it that 3rd grade content can be mastered by almost any adult with a college education, but at the high school level, material gets a lot deeper. Chemistry is very challenging. I was assigned to a Physics class and was not able to help in any way! I couldn't even help differentiating the lessons. The content was so difficult that I asked for my students reprogrammed out of the class. Another challenge in high school is that often the inclusion classes are taught by different teachers from year to year (or from class to class) so the presentation of the content of the class is not the same. If I'm assigned to two Algebra 2 classes, one teacher might focus on matrices while another focuses on exponential equations. It's very difficult to be a curriculum expert at the high school level in every subject we are called on to co teach.
     
  27. Jerseygirlteach

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    In that case, I'm sorry you have to deal with teachers who don't want to teach. :(
     

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