Co-Teaching

Discussion in 'General Education' started by YoungTeacherGuy, Jun 18, 2013.

  1. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    Jun 18, 2013

    I came home from teaching summer school today and started researching co-teaching videos on YouTube because one of colleagues was telling me she co-taught when she lived in another state.

    From what I saw (on YouTube, that is :lol:), I could never co-teach. I'm so used to being by myself (other than having an aide for 30 minutes each day). I can't imagine having another adult in the room with me for part of the day. In some situations, it looks like people co-teach for the entire day! :dizzy:

    Does anyone here co-teach? Do you like it? Do you both have equal say in what goes on bulletin boards? Does someone take the lead? How do you avoid stepping on each other's toes?

    Please...someone give some food for thought! :)
     
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  3. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    I. Would. Die. :)
     
  4. FarFromHome

    FarFromHome Connoisseur

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    My state has job share, but my school doesn't do it. I think in that situation each teacher works 2-3 days a week. I've always thought I would like to do something like that when I have a baby-just for a year or two.

    My mom has done co-teaching, but it's as an inclusion teacher. She usually get used as an aide (she's a special ed teacher), but she had one teacher that she worked great with and loved the job. So I think it really depends on who the other teacher would be.
     
  5. ktdclark

    ktdclark Comrade

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    I was a kinder teacher for 8 years and HATED the partner teacher thing...hence the reason I left kinder 11 years ago!
     
  6. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    I did it in my sped student teaching and hated it. It's a very popular model in OH, but luckily hasn't really taken off here in CO. I was basically an aide. I can legitimately say I have never been so bored in my life...my many years of life guarding were more interesting than that! I had a great relationship with the gen ed teacher because she'd been my gen ed supervisor for that portion of my student teaching, and we clicked really well. Even so, I still felt like an aide. The only lessons I got to actually prepare/teach were two 30 minute reading groups a day. The rest of the day was just helping kids with whatever they were doing in gen ed, modifying things, or carrying out accommodations.

    My dad has been co-teaching for at least 15 years now. He's had a few really good years where he really felt like he was just another teacher in the room. Awhile ago he worked with a gen ed teacher who really liked co-teaching and requested to have the "inclusion class" with him every year. They truly did plan together and share the responsibility for teaching. An observer would not be able to tell who the gen ed teacher was and who the sped teacher was. Unfortunately, she got transferred and he's been back to being treated like an aide ever since. He was in a new grade level this year and liked the team he worked with, but he still didn't get to do a lot of actual teaching. He was thrilled at the end of the year when they "let him" plan/teach a novel study. He does say that his kids do better now than they did in a resource setting.

    I think I would be comfortable with it if I were the gen ed teacher. It's not fair, but in any situation I've seen the gen ed teacher is really the one who has the most "power" in the situation. The sped teacher is really at the mercy of how much they'll "give up their classroom" and let their co-teacher actually teach.

    I am going back to sped next year, but I'll be doing resource pull-outs. I don't think I would have taken the job otherwise. CO doesn't have caseload limits, which is sometimes a problem, but the nice thing about it is the caseloads are typically too big to do any kind of co-teaching model anyway, so I don't have to worry about it turning into that.
     
  7. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    The whole "giving up my classroom" thing would be sooooo hard for me. In the end, the students' test scores rest on my shoulders, so I feel like I'd end up micromanaging how the co-teacher taught... :(
     
  8. stampin'teacher

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    Jun 19, 2013

    I have only been in co-teaching situations. However, each time there was a clear lead/associate teacher model. Next year is actually the first year I'll be paired up with another lead teacher, creating an actual co-teacher model. I have to say it has its pros and cons.

    For one, you can bounce ideas off each other. This has been great because you feel confident as a team, and can work to problem solve. Balancing power I think is the most challenging part. I think it will be more challenging next year because we both will be pulled from leadership roles & move from a 70/30 to a 50/50 classroom as far as workload is concerned.

    I dunno, I've enjoyed having another teacher in the room. I guess it just depends on what your expectations are. I've always viewed it as a positive. Extra set of hands, extra brain, extra support. I can totally see how the power struggle can come in to play if you're not used to it, but I think if clear communication and expectations are set, it can be really great.
     
  9. bros

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    During a course I took last fall, I believe I was taught there are six forms of co-teaching.

    I think they are Teach-Observe, where one person teaches, the other observes, Teach-Assist, where one teaches, and other walks around as an aide, Parallel teaching, where the class is divided into two groups and taught the same material, just in smaller groups, Station teaching, that one is self explanatory, Alternative Instruction, where one teacher pulls back a small group of students to give them more individualized instruction and the other teacher takes the rest of the class, and Team Teaching, where both teachers deliver the same material at the same time and play off each other.

    I believe the most common are Teach-Assist and Team Teaching, at least from what I was taught.
     
  10. agdamity

    agdamity Fanatic

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    I will have one co-taught section next year. Due to scheduling, my co-teacher won't be able to come in until the main lesson has been presented, so we will both be pulling small groups while she is in there. We'll see how it goes, but I'm looking forward to it!
     
  11. HistTchr

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    We have several co-taught classes at my school. I taught a class with a special education for seven or eight years and loved it. Roles just need to be clearly defined so the kids recognize both teachers as equals.
     
  12. Shanoo

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    I team taught a few years ago. It wasn't a resource situation. I liked it.

    We taught French. The way we divided the work was simple. She was more comfortable teaching the cultural aspects of the language, so I taught the grammar points. We had the same planning period, so we would plan lessons together. When she was teaching, I acted as an aide and she did the same when I was teaching. It worked well.
     
  13. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    I co-taught last year. It was a great experience. My co-teacher was strong in math, so he took the lead there. I pulled small groups while he taught. I took care of reading and language arts and he helped.

    Everything else we just shared. I enjoyed the experience, but it is not something I want to do every year. This year he will have his own class and I am moving to an autism class.
     
  14. 2ndTimeAround

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    yep.

    With the people I know, the results have been mixed. The one situation where both teachers seemed to be happy with each other was when they had very similar personalities and beliefs.

    The special ed teachers that I know coteach are huge advocates for the special needs children. Which is great, everyone needs an advocate. But sometimes what they are advocating would be negative for the other students and/or the general ed teacher. For example, one of the suggestions in one of the classes was to abolish due dates. Not just give extended time to the whole class, but to give unlimited time for make-up work and writing assignments. That way the special needs children didn't feel different in the class. The general ed teacher went along with the idea and had tons of work to do at the end of the semester. Some students (most were general ed) turned in two research papers on the day of their final exam each. There weren't enough hours in that last week of school for the general ed teacher to grade everything so her other school responsibilities were pawned off on other teachers. But the general ed teacher didn't mind otherwise. She is naturally relaxed about due dates.

    I wouldn't have agreed to such a policy. I think it sends a bad message and I can't do that to myself. I'd be willing to compromise but often compromises aren't accepted. It is all or nothing :(
     
  15. BumbleB

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    I co-taught all last year. At first, we did stumble over each other. Transitions were awkward, and we struggled with acting as a "team". But I think we starting meshing together pretty quickly, and soon we would just "ping pong teach", as I call it. She would start the lesson, I would pick up with the next activity, she may jump in to add something in. It flowed quite naturally and I think we worked well together. What I really like about co-teaching is getting to know more of the student population. My first year, I dealt with all SPED kids all day. When I co-teach, I get to know more students and I feel like my impact in the school is noticed more.

    I do miss being able to do something and NOT run it by my co-teacher. You lose a bit of your "teacher identity" when you can't always do what you want to do. However, I will be teaching one class of my own in addition to co-teaching next year...so I will get a little bit of freedom!
     
  16. BumbleB

    BumbleB Habitué

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    In my district, my co-teacher and I come up with a percentage that reflects how much instruction we personally gave to the special education students and the general education students. My co-teacher and I decided on 50%/50% for both, because we truly felt like we instructed both groups equally and I wasn't always with the SPED kids.

    So when test scores come out (which they did and our kids did AWESOME!), we are considered equally responsible for ALL of the scores.
     
  17. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    In my area, only the students with accomodations are the ones that we split. But if I have to adapt the sequencing, the pacing, the rules, the classroom atmosphere, the activities I do because I am co-teaching, then ALL of the students are impacted by it.

    So far none of the co-taught classes get to all of the standards like the rest of the classes. I imagine that some kinks need to be worked out but by slowing down the general ed teacher's pacing, all students missed out on covering some standards.

    So the regular ed students will have lower test scores and those all would belong solely to me.

    I am very nervous about this trend occuring right when test scores are part of my evaluation and possible pay.
     
  18. BumbleB

    BumbleB Habitué

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    As part of our professional development, we have a partnership with a county ESC that provides instructional coaching and advice on co-teaching. They told us that the pace of a co-taught classroom should NOT be slowed down. Which was shocking for me, because that's what I assumed needed to be done in order to help these kids grasp the standards. Using that advice, we did not slow down our pace. We provided accommodations, no modifications. The lesson plans (aside from a few very minimal accommodations) were exactly the same for co-taught and regular classes.

    We just got our preliminary data and the majority of my SPED kids passed the test for the first time ever. The kids who did not pass were the ones who are "misplaced" in inclusion, and we will have the option of resource next year (where their scores won't impact the gen ed teacher).

    So that is something to think about with pacing. I was skeptical at first, but keeping the rigor high seemed to pay off.
     
  19. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    I've taught many collab classes and co-teaching was encouraged, but the special ed teachers would not come to class at all, come very late and leave early, come and text in the back the entire time, look at sports stuff on my teacher comuter, not provide modifications or accomodations...you get the idea. So I knew pretty early that a co-teaching model wasn't something I would have to embrace. ETA: They would pull this trick where they'd tell me they couldn't make it to my class because Mr. Hill needed them...and then hang in their office. And then when they were supposed to be with Mr. Hill, they'd say they were helping in my class but they were not. Crazy.
     
  20. AdamnJakesMommy

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    I have only my student teaching experience (last fall) and as a midyear hire in an alternative classroom.

    I guess it just depends on the classroom climate and the disposition of the other teacher. I really would have loved to have another adult in my room during the spring in the alternative classroom. It was very hard, as a new teacher, coordinating three lessons simultaneously to each grade level.

    I also loved my cooperating teacher. We got along great, he was a guy, so there is definitely a different dynamic with a male and female teacher in the room. We worked well together, cooperated, and had a good time every day--cannot complain at all. We are still really good friends today. I miss having him around actually.

    But my experiences aside, what I have read on here about how co-teaching can be and how a lot of peoples' student teaching experiences make me cringe.
     
  21. iteachbx

    iteachbx Enthusiast

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    I co-teach, exclusively. Meaning it's completely both our classroom, both our students. I'm the special ed teacher but I work equally with all of the teachers and so does my co-teacher. We parallel teach pretty much exclusively. (School's choice.) This means there are 2 lessons at a time. Both have the same objective but the lower or smaller group is differentiated in some way.

    I've taught with one teacher for 2 teachers. Even though we really don't see eye to eye AT ALL we managed to get along and stick it out for two years. And even though I was considering leaving if I had to teach with her again I still wanted to stay in co-teaching. I wasn't going to let me turn her off to it. I love the idea of co-teaching. I just knew it wasn't the right fit for me. Unfortunately my admins didn't see that last year, but they did this year. I'm lucky that my principal is very, very concerned that it is a good match. She has finally come to understand it's not about a good teacher helping a struggling teacher. It's putting together two similarly minded strong teachers and creating an excellent pair. And of course, they have to want to do it. Who's going to work well with someone else if they really don't want to?

    The teacher they're putting me with is literally perfect for me. I could not be more excited. We get along great, we have the same style I'm so excited. I know it's going to be better. We're texting each other as I type this about things we've found on pinterest for right year.
     
  22. iteachbx

    iteachbx Enthusiast

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    It requires a lot of communication. And a lot of compromising if you don't necessarily see eye to eye. With my current co-teacher since we didn't exactly get along we kind of split things up by subject. One took care of math/science the other reading/writing/ss. But we always discussed what the boards would would like.

    As far as teaching goes since we parallel teach you're pretty much on your own while you're teaching. I would not have survived the past two years if we were teaching each lesson together.

    There are a bunch of different models for co-teaching. What I do is actually a mix of alternative and parallel but my school calls it parallel.

    http://www.artofacquisition.com/templates_and_css/lessons/lesson4a.html
     
  23. iteachbx

    iteachbx Enthusiast

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    That is the fault of the school culture. I'm the special education teacher and I do everything my co-teacher does. It's completely, completely equal. And the grades/progress of ALL students fall on my shoulders just as the grades/progress of ALL students fall on my co-teacher's shoulders. I think the fact that the special education students are not looked at as "my" students completely changes the perception of how co-teaching works in my school. EVERYTHING is "ours" and it works that way in each co-teaching class in my school.
     
  24. iteachbx

    iteachbx Enthusiast

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    I'm pretty sure you're right about the teach-assist being one of the most popular. So glad my school is AGAINST this model.
     
  25. iteachbx

    iteachbx Enthusiast

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    This is exactly how it is for me too. Our pacing is the same as the general education classes on our grade level. Sometimes we even end up ahead of the other classes. There's no reason for us to move more slowly. If we're teaching say fractions, the struggling students in the "smaller" group are getting a differentiated lesson with so much more guidance than the "large group" that they are able to catch on just as fast as the others. If someone catches on super fast after day one from the small group we can always switch up the groups a bit and put kids really struggling in the large group in the smaller group to get a little more help.
     
  26. Miss84

    Miss84 Comrade

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    This was my first year using the co-teacher model and I loved it! My co-teacher was awesome and we were both on the same page, from teaching to classroom management styles. It's basically like having a roomate, we set out duties in the beginning of the year and adjusted them as need be. Parents were confused as to who was the "lead" teacher at first of course, cause this style of teaching is still not common. Overall for an early childhood setting I think it works well when you have two people with similar teaching styles/characteristics.
     
  27. Mathemagician

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    This was my first year teaching. Next year they have me coteaching 3 of my 5 classes. I'm a little nervous about it. She's really nice, and I think she'll be great to work with, but HS math isn't her strongest point.
     
  28. Danny'sNanny

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    When I was a preschool aide, we had 2-3 lead teachers and several aides per room. It was great, because we could each teach the areas we were strong in. One teacher would have an art lesson going in one area, while I did a science lesson in another. It was great as long as everyone pulled their weight - sometimes one person would get a little lazy since there were so many other adults in the room.

    The year I had my student teacher I felt like I was co-teaching for most of it. She was GREAT, but I had some really needy kids that I wasn't willing to turn over 100%. We got through so much of the curriculum because we could pull twice as many groups, give extra attention to the low/sped kids, I finally had time to fit in all the social lessons I wanted to do with my kids on the spectrum, etc.

    This year, I had a sped aide about 70% of the time, but we did not work well together, and it is really hard to turn your kids over to someone you don't really trust. I needed help in running my groups for math and reading, but I never trusted the instruction they were receiving in the other group.

    If I could co-teach with someone I really got along with, I think I'd love it. My school doesn't do it though. My fingers are crossed for a certain sped aide next year, because I'll have someone most of the day, and there is one that I know I can trust to work really hard with my groups!
     
  29. Bella2010

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    Couldn't do it. I'm too much of a control freak. :whistle:
     
  30. bella84

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    I totally agree with this. The expectations need to be set at the start of the school year. In my experience, most sped teachers want to be held equally responsible for ALL of the students, not just the ones who have IEPs. We want to be responsible for improving everyone's test scores. We want to have an equal say in the lesson planning, the classroom set-up, parent communication, etc. The problem is that most classroom teachers are used to having their own room and are not willing to give up total control of the classroom to share it with the sped teacher (I'm not blaming...I understand this. I was a classroom teacher before teaching sped.) This leads to resentment from the sped teacher who (assuming he/she has the authority to make the decision) decides to stop "co-teaching" (a.k.a. being treated like an overpaid para) and pull students out for instruction instead. This isn't helpful for anyone - sped or reg. ed. kids. Research shows that inclusion is effective when implemented properly. When the two teachers can't learn to share and act as a team, the students suffer. No one wants to give up control, but, if we're going to do what's best for kids, we need to learn how to share.

    Of course inclusion isn't appropriate for all students, but many more students could benefit from it, if only classroom teachers would give the sped teachers enough respect and allow them to be an equal in the classroom.

    I posted about this a few months ago, but I started to "co-teach" with a primary teacher in my school last November. It was only 30-60 min per day, on average. Most days I very easily could have been mistaken for a para. It took all the way until April before she finally invited me to actually teach a lesson. That moment MADE MY WEEK!! I was finally seen as an equal in her room. On the last day of school, the kids in the class had two brown paper bags filled with cards and pictures sitting on the table - one for the regular teacher and one for me. I just about lost it inside then... I was so touched.:wub: The icing on the cake here is that both the regular ed teacher and I (the sped teacher) were nominated for (and received!) awards at the end of the year indicating that we worked passionately to improve the education of students with special needs.
     
  31. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Two big obstacles from my perspective are lack of common planning time for the two teachers and special ed teachers who are supposed to co-teach in a few to several classrooms. That's a lot if they're planning with each teacher, teaching, grading, scoring, communicating with parents, and so forth.
     
  32. Croissant

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    I've had more than one co-teacher, and a lot of it really has to do with personalities. The teacher I taught with this year shared most of my philosophies, and we worked really well together. As a result, I looked forward to the time of day when she joined me. If you get along well and have similar personalities, it can be really fun to have another "grown-up" in the room with you.

    That being said, I'm still not entirely sold on the idea. I'm honestly not convinced it is effective, but I'm giving my district a little more time to work out the kinks before I make a decision and stand by it.
     
  33. bella84

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    I think it has the potential to be effective... the research is there... plus, common sense would tell you that two teachers can't be a bad thing for kids..... However, as you implied, it's all in the implementation and the relationship between the teachers.

    Unfortunately, I don't think most schools have the funding to make sure it's implemented the way it needs to be and to provide the training. As JustMe mentioned, a sped teacher having to co-teach with several regular ed. teachers could turn into a logistical nightmare when plan time, grading, parent communication, etc. is considered. Narrowing the focus to have a co-teacher work with only one or two other teachers, or even one specific grade-level/department could be a possible solution. However, even if the funding and training were to magically appear, there would still need to be a change in the mindset that the co-teacher is an equal member of the teaching team and not an assistant.
     
  34. FourSquare

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    My good friend just got hired at my school to teach middle school math. Middle school teachers do 4 periods of their subject plus one period of Reading. I am really pushing for her to take the low Reading group with my inclusion kids so that our inclusion SPED teacher only has to collaborate with one teacher. She would be co-teaching with my friend for 3 periods AND have a common prep. I think this is how it should be done. The problem this year was that nobody had any common planning time.

    As always, if we're not gonna do it right it's not going to be successful.
     
  35. Croissant

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    We do a really good job of both being the teacher. The kids don't realize that I'm a GenEd teacher and she's a SpEd teacher. Again, I think a lot of it is to do with our personalities.

    As it stands right now, any SpEd teacher who co-teaches on my campus does so in multiple subjects and multiple grade levels. That makes it nearly impossible to implement co-teach the way it's meant to be done. Planning together is pretty much impossible, so oftentimes my co-teacher is sort of at my mercy just by default. I try really hard to not let that happen. Fortunately, she's great at feeling out the situation and then jumping in, but it shouldn't have to be like that. Our ratios of SpEd to GenEd students in co-teach classes is all off too. It's just not working correctly right now, and I'm not convinced administration is really listening to our concerns. :(
     
  36. fadedrainbows

    fadedrainbows New Member

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    In my state, they rest on BOTH teachers' shoulders. It is truly both of the teachers' classrooms and students.
     
  37. dave1mo

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    Last year was my first year as a high school English teacher, and I co-taught inclusion classes (20-25 general education students, 10-15 special education students) two of my six periods. Fortunately I was trained in my teacher preparation program by an English Education professor and a SPED professor who co-taught our courses and modeled very well how two professionals should work together. Often subject-area teachers marginalize (intentionally or not) their co-teachers and essentially relegate them to aide roles; often SPED teachers are either fine with doing "less work" (not planning lessons, collaborating, etc.) or are too intimidated/don't have the skills to bring up concerns with the subject-area teacher.

    My co-teacher, who was an incredible mentor and partner, moved into the world of educational consulting over the summer; I'm absolutely terrified to get a co-teacher who is not open to ACTUAL co-teaching, including collaboration. Fortunately my principal is allowing me to take part in the interview process for her replacement, and I hope that an emphasis on inclusion experience is present for the interviews.

    Essentially, this is how it should look:



    And this is how it shouldn't look:

     
  38. dave1mo

    dave1mo Comrade

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    Jun 23, 2013

    It's not your classroom though; it belongs to you and the other educator in the room.

    My students' test scores were the highest in the department (with the exception of the Honors classes); a HUGE part of that was having two trained, caring, collaborative individuals who went out of their way to make sure all students, SPED or not, succeeded in our class.
     
  39. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    Jun 23, 2013

    It's all about how the district presents this idea to the teachers involved. They'd have to set us up for success. I'm still certain I'd run far away from co-teaching if it was offered to me.

    Keep in mind--you said you only co-taught for 2 out of 6 periods. I'm with the same group of kids all day. We're in two completely different worlds.
     
  40. dave1mo

    dave1mo Comrade

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    This is exactly how we did it as well; accommodate, but keep the same rigor as we would otherwise.
     
  41. dave1mo

    dave1mo Comrade

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    We had this issue this year; given my experience and education with inclusion, I ended up being the one to advocate for common planning times (which we have this year) and pairing SPED teachers one on one.

    It was very uncomfortable for me to do as a first year teacher, but administration was very accommodating.
     

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