Common Co-Teaching Challenges

Common Co-Teaching Challenges

November 28, 2019 0 By Stanley Isaacs


– Well we are with
Dr. Marilyn Friend, and she is a CEC past president. Welcome. – Thank you. – So you specialize
in co-teaching. Could you first let us know, what are some challenges
in co-teaching? – Co-teaching has been
around for 30 years now, and at the beginning it
had such intuitive appeal. What could be challenging
about a general ed teacher and a special ed teacher
sharing a classroom and making sure they
address student needs? And we’ve all learned
over those years that it’s really a
lot more than that, and a number of
challenges have arisen. For example, probably
the first one and that makes or
breaks many programs is administrative understanding, because if school administrators
don’t deeply understand what co-teaching requires and
how it’s done effectively, it’s not sustainable. In addition there are
very practical matters. The most common concern
about co-teaching isn’t really about what
goes on in the classroom, it’s about the need for
common planning time. And while electronic
options certainly are driving a new way to
plan for co-teaching, many teachers still find that they have almost
no planning time and that makes it very
difficult to do this. Now, there are all kinds of
other challenges, of course, professional development
and making sure that classrooms are
set up correctly, but if we could work with having administrators
understand and if we could make sure teachers
could work together away from the children, I think we’d be in
much better shape. – Sure. So that all being said, what are some strategies
for effective co-teaching? – And that’s the
companion, of course, to the first question. And when I think
about co-teaching, I would say that there are a
number of critical components and the complexity is
that those components are interlocking but they’re
also all always moving. The first one is that teachers
need to have an understanding of their roles and
responsibilities. General ed teachers
are responsible for the general curriculum. Special educators
are responsible for the special ed students and
the services that they need. That has to be in place. Second there are six fundamental
co-teaching approaches that most people know now. Unfortunately sometimes
in a classroom, what teachers know
and what’s implemented are not the same thing, and too often now co-teaching is one teach, one assist,
which is inappropriate. A third piece is just
classroom logistics. How do you have
students in small groups with two teachers and
move them efficiently? That also is an issue. And then the most important one is the instruction that
goes on in that classroom because if students
with disabilities don’t receive specially
designed instruction, they’re not getting what
they’re supposed to get. – So why is it
important for teachers to be able to co-teach? – The promise of co-teaching
is really about a dual goal. The first part of the
goal is to provide students with disabilities
meaningful access to the general curriculum in the preferred least
restrictive environment, which is with their peers. The simultaneous goal is
that they will receive while there the specially
designed instruction to which they are entitled. – And so why is
it overall better for the teachers
and the students? – For the students, we know that while
co-teaching, I think, should be implemented more
with children with high needs, students with disabilities,
nearly all of them, are capable of learning
the same curriculum if they receive the right type
of specialized instruction. And so for students, if co-teaching is
implemented with fidelity, students have a great
potential to really achieve the standards that are
expected in today’s schools, and to really have that success. For teachers this
is a reflection of the real world
in the 21st century. Most people now work on teams. We know the problems
are too complex. No one person can possibly
know all the answers, and so co-teaching is
also an opportunity for collaboration where teachers
put their heads together and it’s a very
supported feeling, and many teachers say that
they’re better teachers because they’ve co-taught. – Wonderful. Thank you, Dr. Friend, so much for sharing with us the benefits and the challenges
of co-teaching. – Glad to do so. (soft piano music) – CEC TV is brought to you from the Council for
Exceptional Children. For more content like this, check out some of
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