Tell me about your co-teaching experiences, please.

Discussion in 'General Education' started by chitown, Aug 5, 2014.

  1. chitown

    chitown Companion

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    Aug 5, 2014

    I want the good, the bad, and the ugly!

    I was hired to be an inclusion teacher this year, and I have very little other information about my position. Though I do have some experience with co-teaching during my student teaching in high school and then as an LTS in 5th grade, I'd love to find out about other people's experiences so I can make this a great year.

    Obviously, all people and schools and children are different, so something that's good for you may not work for me and vice versa, but since I'm not the only one in this partnership and my co-teacher (or co-teachers) may be quite different than me, I'd like to get a variety of viewpoints. I'd love to hear from teachers of all different grade levels, gen ed and sped alike.

    I personally would love to take an active role in the class, not just a support role if student needs allow it. I want to help plan and create and deliver instruction...everything that is part of being a teacher. Thanks for sharing!
     
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  3. Kelster95

    Kelster95 Companion

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    Aug 5, 2014

    I am in the same position, I know that I will be in an 8th grade English class with 11 students and a 6th grade math class with 27 students. I will have 1 English class of my own with 3 students.
     
  4. agdamity

    agdamity Fanatic

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    Communicate, communicate, communicate. As a gen ed teacher, I welcomed having the inclusion teacher lead groups, do parallel teaching, etc. There have been times where I've felt the inclusion teacher didn't understand the material and wasn't making an effort to learn it, so obviously those times made it difficult for me to want to turn things over. Also, be sure to help with assessing student understanding. It's hard to pull groups when you don't know exactly what the misconceptions are.

    Find a time to plan with your co teacher. Even if it means staying after school. So many issues can be avoided if the communication and trust is there.
     
  5. CatfaceMeowmers

    CatfaceMeowmers Companion

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    So my advice probably isn't that worthy. But as a substitute teacher, I worked with many inclusion teachers! Because they were in the classroom all the time, they kind of took over while I helped out. But then I would also sub for inclusion teachers and help out while the teachers did their thing. I had this one inclusion teacher who LOVED to be center stage - so I think she liked it when the teacher wasn't there lol.

    From what I've heard, inclusion teachers are there to help those struggling students. The teacher is still the "leader" but I think the inclusion teachers definitely has some input.

    As the inclusion teacher, some classes split their students. I often took the struggling students to another room and did the same lesson but with a smaller group of students (but since I wasn't their real teacher and didn't have any information on them, it really didn't help them at all...).

    But I think co-teaching can be possible if both sides are willing to work together. It's about the students :)
     
  6. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    This is so important. My favourite experiences when I was in Special Ed was when I was supporting in the classroom. With a few teachers, it really clicked. We became co-teachers in the classroom, with each having active roles with all of the students. The teacher and the identified students knew who I was there to support, but I would lay odds that most, if not all, of the other students did not. We worked together to support the needs of all of the learners. It worked because we talked to each other--about what worked and what didn't for ourselves and for the students.

    Typically, one of us would teach the lesson, then both of us would circulate the room assisting students, pulling small groups as necessary. We talked, constantly about who would do what. They taught to their strengths and I taught to mine.

    It takes a lot of work, and both parties need to be open, but it can be a very rich experience for everyone involved.
     
  7. mathteachertobe

    mathteachertobe Cohort

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    Aug 5, 2014

    I am the gen ed teacher of a coteaching team. I do more whole class discussion, but my partner teacher will design and deliver lessons as well, admittedly, usually at my suggestion. Our cotaught class (this upcoming year, 2 classes) meet in "my" classroom and I am the teacher of record for all students for that period, but I really think the more we are both seen as their teachers, as opposed to the teacher/helper paradigm that sometimes gets used, the better it would be given out particular set of students. I do think the gen ed teacher is kind of more responsible for setting that tone, by how they respond to, and modify their practice when given, a coteaching assignment.
     
  8. MsDouglas

    MsDouglas Rookie

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    I only co-taught for one semester. It was an inclusion geometry class. As the math teacher I planned the lessons. My co-teacher was a special education teacher. When I say that he did not know geometry, it's an understatement. He mostly helped me with crowd control when he bothered to show up and separate testing. There were 35 students, about 10 had IEPs, and the rest were behavior problems or low performers. It wasn't all bad. When he was there, I had the students teach him. They thought it was fun and learned more when they were teaching him.
     
  9. chitown

    chitown Companion

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    Aug 6, 2014

    Thank you for all the responses so far. I've picked up a few things in the short time that I've been teaching, but I realize that my experience is limited and that I can learn from what others have gone through.

    For both agdamity and MsDouglas--you mentioned that you both had co-teachers with limited knowledge of the subject matter that they were supposed to help teach. Were they aware of the fact that they were lacking, and if not, did you say something to them? Also, were you willing to help them develop their knowledge or did you expect them to develop this knowledge on their own? I don't ask from a place of judgement because I'm guessing that would be an uncomfortable situation to be in. I'm just asking because I'm curious if my co-teacher would be likely to mention it if they feel that I don't know or understand enough to teach a particular concept. I co-taught geometry during my student teaching and was painfully aware that I didn't have enough content knowledge to be teaching the subject. Thankfully, the geometry teacher I worked with was more than willing to work with me so that I could assist in the classroom, and he also gladly shared resources so I could build my knowledge on my own. I don't know if his willingness to help was an exception or the norm, though.

    I'm sure I'll pose other questions as long as people keep responding!
     
  10. agdamity

    agdamity Fanatic

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    I gave as much help as possible-- shared resources, modeled strategies, explicitly planned small group instruction, but my co teacher never seemed interested/ took notes/ asked questions, etc. As the gen ed teacher, I understand I am the content expert, but my co teacher was unable to provide ideas for modifications due to not understanding the content. It was a subject where alternate methods of instruction were needed.
     
  11. chitown

    chitown Companion

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    Yikes, that sounds like a frustrating experience. I've actually been in the position of needing help with the content so that I could help the students and modify for them, and thankfully I was working with teachers who were willing to help. Hopefully I'll always realize that I need that help though!
     
  12. Elocin

    Elocin Comrade

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    Aug 8, 2014


    I am a gen ed teacher and I was lucky to have a special ed co-teacher as wonderful as the poster above. We both planned lessons, we both modified material, we both worked with ALLLLL the kids. It was nice too because on a day where I having trouble connecting with a kid, she could take over and vice versa. We worked together 3 years and it got to the point where we could just look at each other and know what to do. It is hard to build a team like that but when you have it, it is worth the effort!!
     
  13. chitown

    chitown Companion

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    Did it naturally go pretty smoothly for you two from the beginning? I know some people just click. I'm hoping that the teacher or teachers I'm going to be working with will be willing to push through any rough patches if they pop up. I worked (as an aide) on a team and we got to the point where we didn't really need words either, I'd love to be able to be part of a team like that.
     
  14. Elocin

    Elocin Comrade

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    It did go smoothly. We didn't know each other beforehand but got along great and I think it helped that we were both new to the grade, but not new to teaching. So there was no "this is how it's done", because we were both learning together. She is my best friend now even though we don't work together anymore :(
     
  15. Luv2TeachInTX

    Luv2TeachInTX Comrade

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    I didn't have a great experience, but that was more a function of being overburdened with other responsibilities to the point that the class could not function as a true co-taught classroom.

    I had 23 students in my caseload that had to be monitored, that many students coming to resource class and two co-teach classes. We had no common planning time either. I was acting more as a para, unfortunately. Plus, the teacher I was assigned had been teaching for 20+ years, was very type A and had a hard time "sharing" the classroom with me.
     
  16. lilia123

    lilia123 Companion

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    I think one of the biggest pieces of successful co-teaching that gets ignored a lot by administrators is common planning time. It is very difficult to just email or give someone written plans and not have time to discuss them together. I only had a very brief experience in co-teaching, but the classrooms where the general education teacher and I had some common planning time went a lot better. I only had problems with 1 out of 4 teachers in the few months I worked as a resource teacher. She though had a lot of issues with administration also because she pretty much did not believe in differentiation. I have never since then met anyone like her and hope I never do again.
     
  17. BumbleB

    BumbleB Habitué

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    This is how my co-teaching relationship started, and we get along great. I think that's a key to good collaboration...one person can't feel/act like they "know it all" or they're somehow "better" than the other. Each person brings a unique set of skills to the classroom that are equally worthy.
     
  18. chitown

    chitown Companion

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    This is one reason I'm nervous--I'm pretty new to teaching. I'm not sure if I'm going to be working with a new teacher or a vet, someone else who is new to the school or someone who's been there for a while... I'm the type of person who is open to anything (or at least I think I am!) so I hope I end up working with someone who is pretty open also.
     
  19. GaryBerry21

    GaryBerry21 Rookie

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    My experience was pretty bad in retrospect. The Sped co-teacher and I didn't really communicate well and the students didn't really like learning from her. They liked her as a mother figure because she has been with that group for a few years but they didn't want to learn from her because she wasn't too strong in mathematics and they knew it.
    I emailed her the lesson plans for the week and she copied and pasted into her lesson plans to submit then show up asking what are we doing today. At times I didn't even notice her in the classroom. She was very knowledgeable about all the IEP and Rti stuff though.
     
  20. MsDouglas

    MsDouglas Rookie

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    To answer your question: I tried to let my co-teacher learn the material. I sent him lesson plans, gave him the material early and gave him the answer keys. We both joked about how he struggled. We knew going in that it was his toughest subject. Honestly I was just happy when he was there to help handle the discipline.
     

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