Are any of your high schools implementing co-teaching? I’m predicting that my school is slowly heading toward this and I was recently told that we would be doing this next year. I’m not sure if it will just be my school or district-wide.
Any thoughts about co-teaching, especially in a special education environment?
In a nutshell: co-teaching can be a teaching situation with truly amazing potential, just as easily as it could be the biggest frustration of your life.
It is a relationship just like every other, in which two people are working closely together and sharing something personal (teaching). Consider the other teachers in your department: the myriad of personalities, the teaching styles, the way they interact with children, and content, and how.
Now consider that co-teaching is, essentially, a crap-shoot in which you are designated to work very closely with one of these individuals. It could be fantastic. It could be horrific. Or anywhere in between.
In theory, the co-teaching model is sound. To my experience, however, there are far too many variables and assumptions for it to ever be a good idea as a policy.
I have been incredibly fortunate to have had two absolutely amazing co-teaching experiences. It’s all about be open, flexible, yet still remembering what you stand for as a teacher. It’s about opening your classroom up to that other person and letting them share your space. As the regular-ed teacher, I physically share everything in my classroom for 45 minutes every day. My current co-teacher goes into my desk, through my bag, through my mess, and doesn’t complain about how disastrous it is. We co-teach, co-plan when possible, co-modify, co-grade. We always make 20 minutes after class (we have last period which is awesome) to talk and discuss class, students, what worked, what needs to be re-addressed, and about our personal lives. We both help all of the students in the class succeed. Almost all of our students are doing very well and have become a destination class for troubled freshmen.
My last co-teacher (during student teaching) became a very close friend. We worked a bit differently because it was middle school and she was really only there for her kids. I didn’t mind though because we worked that way. She helped her kids survive and succeed in my class and worked off of me to help me help the students.
This year, my co-teacher and I are hoping to convince the administration to keep us together. We work so well together that it would be really fantastic to be able to continue together next year so we can fine-tune our great work.