Co-teaching is a common practice in today’s schools. Most special educators will spend at least part of their careers teaching collaboratively within general education, inclusive classroom settings. Understanding the expectations of a co-teacher will help special educators meet the students’ needs and create partnerships within the school community.
Allocate at least 4.5 hours in the field to support this field experience.
Meet with a certified special educator who co-teaches in an inclusive classroom at a school of your choice; ideally the school is at the grade range in which you would like to teach (e.g., elementary, middle, secondary). Co-teaching in this instance would include a special education teacher working with a general education teacher, paraeducator, instructional assistant, or related services professional/support staff.
Prior to observing the teacher, ask the following questions:
How often do you meet with your co-teacher for planning purposes and collaboration? Do you share a planning period or meet outside of school hours?
What partnership arrangement did you make with your co-teacher before you began your co-teaching relationship?
Did you choose the colleague you work with, or was this teaching arrangement assigned to you without your input?
How did you prepare for being a co-teacher? Do you enjoy it? Why or why not?
What challenges should all special educators be prepared to overcome in inclusive co-teaching classrooms? What are the benefits of a co-teaching relationship?
What have your personal experiences as a co-teacher shown you related to student success?
After your conversation with the teacher, spend the remainder of your field experience hours observing and assisting the teacher as he or she teaches, assesses students, and plans for future lessons. Keep notes on the co-teacher’s role in the classroom as well as the professional relationship between the two teachers.
Summarize your observations and conversation in 250-500 words, citing specific things you noted. Be sure to reflect upon what you thought you might see and what you actually saw. How did your field experience change your views about the role of a co-teacher in an inclusive classroom? Did you note any challenges? Any successes? Compare your observations to what research has shown about important elements of co-teaching relationships. In addition, explain how you will use your findings in your future professional practice.
Support your findings with a minimum of three scholarly resources.