Co-teaching is a common practice in todays 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.
Arrange the clinical field experience for this course in a K-12 inclusive setting where you will be monitored by a certified teacher mentor.
Prior to the clinical field experience, review the requirements of all clinical field experiences for this course. Create a document to share with your mentor detailing these requirements and what is being requested of the mentor. This document should include the scheduling required to complete all assignments.
Allocate at least 4.5 hours in the field to support this field experience.
Part 1: Teacher Interview
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?
Part 2: Observation
After your conversation with the teacher, spend the remainder of your field experience hours observing and assisting the mentor teacher as he or she teaches, assesses students, and plans for future lessons. Keep notes on the co-teachers role in the classroom as well as the professional relationship between the two teachers.
Use any remaining field experience hours to assist the mentor in providing instruction and support to the class.
In a 250-500 word reflection, discuss the following.
- Summarize your observations and conversation, citing specific things you noted. Reflect upon what you thought you might see and what you actually saw.
- Explain how your field experience changed your views about the role of a co-teacher in an inclusive classroom. Describe any challenges and successes you noted.
- Compare your observations to what research has shown about important elements of co-teaching relationships.
- Explain how you will use your findings related to co-teaching in the inclusive classroom in your future professional practice.