Although co-teaching as a means for providing special education services to students with disabilities in general education settings has been discussed for two decades, we now realize that this model benefits all students. In addition, the No Child Left Behind and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act mandates for access, least restrictive environment, and highly qualified teachers, interest in co-teaching is higher than ever before-as is the need to demonstrate the impact of co-teaching on student learning.
Some of the essential characteristics of co-teaching include the following:
- Co-teaching is a service delivery option. It is a means through which students with IEPs receive some or all of their specialized instruction and related services in the context of the general education classroom.
- Two or more professionals with equivalent licensure or status are co-teachers, one who is a general educator and one who is a special educator or specialist.
- Both professionals participate fully, although differently, in the instructional process. General educators maintain primary responsibility for the content of the instruction; special educators hold primary responsibility for facilitating the learning process. Instruction employs evidence-based practices and accountable differentiation.
- The students are heterogeneously grouped as a class, and both teachers work with all students. Various combinations of students and group sizes are used, so each student's educational potential is realized. Co-teachers are firmly committed to "our" students, not "yours" and "mine."
- Just as important as clarifying the characteristics of co-teaching is noting what it is not. It is not a general education classroom with one "real" teacher and one who serves as "the help" or "an extra set of hands." Nor is it a pullout special education program that has been re-located to the corner of a general education classroom.
Throughout MIddletown Public Schools, you will find many co-teaching classrooms. Middletown uses this collaborative teaching, or co-teaching, as a technique to provide services to students with special needs in the general education classroom. Co-teaching is a partnership that requires consistent communication and collaboration. Although co-teaching takes additional time and effort, the benefits are great for our students (those with and without special needs) as well as staff.
Please visit the Co-Teaching Connection Web Site to learn more from Dr. Marilyn Friend.