toward the compromise stage, they begin to see additional modifications and accommodations, particularly for students with more “visible” special needs.
At the compromise stage, the general education teacher may view modifications as “giving up” something or as “watering down” the curriculum. Teachers may not appreciate that some students may require modifications in the content for which they are responsible until the teachers reach the collaborative stage. At this stage, both teachers begin to differentiate concepts that all students must know (big ideas) from concepts that most students should know (essential knowledge). This differentiation marks the collaborative stage for both teachers. From this differentiation, modifications of content, activities, homework assignments, and tests become the norm for students who require them.
2.5.5. Instructional Planning
Instructional planning involves on-the-spot, day-to-day, week-to-week, and unit-to-unit planning of coursework. Effective planning requires that teachers appreciate the need for modifications of the curriculum, as well as accept the responsibilities of teaching all students in the classroom. Common planning time is essential if teachers are to become truly collaborative.
When co-teachers are working at the beginning stage, one often sees two types of service delivery. At times there are distinct and separate curriculums being taught within the classroom to individuals or small groups of students. These separate curriculums often do not parallel each other and do not let themselves to occasional large-group instruction. The general teacher teaches the group and the special educator assumes the role of classroom assistant. Often the special educator is seen circulating the room helping students to remain on task or helping to manage students’ behavior.
As the two educators move toward the compromising stage in instructional planning, they began to show more give and take in the planning. They share more planning. The mutuality of planning continues to expand, until the two teachers reach the collaborative level. Now planning becomes ongoing and shared. At this stage, the teachers seem to be continually planning, outside of the classroom, as well as during the instructional lesson. The “mini-caucus” is one evidence of the collaborative level. This occurs when the two teachers realize the need for an on-the-spot change in the lesson and agree to change course during the lesson to accommodate learner who may be struggling with a concept being presented. Mutual planning and sharing of ideas becomes the norm at the collaborative stage.
2.5.6. Instructional Presentation
The presentation of lessons and structuring of classroom activities comprise the instruction presentation component of the co-teaching classroom. Again, at the beginning level, teachers often present separate lessons. There may be separate lessons within the classroom or one presentation made by one teacher. At this stage, the instructional presentation places one teacher in the role of the “boss” who “holds the chalk”, and the other teacher in the role of “helper.”
As the relationship develops, some of the presentation or lesson structuring begins to be shared. Now both teachers may direct some of the activities in the classroom. Often the special education teacher offers mini-lessons or clarifies strategies students may use. These interactions are evidence of the compromising level.
At the collaborative level, both teachers participate in the presentation of the lesson, provide instruction, and structure the learning activities. The “chalk” passes freely between the teachers because both are engaged in the presentation and activities. Students address questions and discuss concepts with both teachers.
2.5.7. Classroom Management
Effective classroom management involves two major components: structure and relationships. In a structured environment, rules and routines structure the learning experience. Teachers have consistent expectations for students’ behavior which are clear to the students, and which are enforced within the classroom. Classroom management also involves community building and relationship building. The development of relationships and community in the classroom contributes to effective classroom management.
At the beginning stage, it is sometimes the case that the special educator assumes the role of “behavior manager” for students so that the general teacher can “teach”. At other times, the general educator assumes the role of “chief behavior manager.” As the two teacher move into the compromising stage, there is more communication and mutual development of rules and routines for the classroom. At this stage, there may be some discussion of the need for individual behavior plans, but they need to be resisted in favor of group approaches to management. At the collaborating stage, both teachers are involved in developing a classroom management system that benefits all students. Rules, routines, and expectations are mutually developed. At this level, it is common to observe individual behavior plans, use of contracts, tangible rewards, and reinforces, as well as community-building and relation-building activities as a way to enhance classroom management.
Assessment in the co-taught classroom involves developing systems for evaluating individual students, adjusting standards and expectations for performance to meet individual needs, while maintaining course integrity. At the beginning stage, there are often two separate grading systems, each separately maintained by the two teachers. Sometimes there is one system exclusively managed by the general educator. At the beginning level, measures for evaluation tend to be objective in nature and solely examine the student’s knowledge of content.
At the compromising stage, the two teachers begin to explore alternate assessment ideas. They begin to discuss how to effectively capture the students’ progress. The number and quality of measures begin to change at this stage, with more performance measures used. At the collaborative stage, both teachers appreciate the need for a variety of opinions when assessing students’ progress. These may include an individualization of grading procedures for all students, specific progress monitoring, and the use of both objective and subjective standards for grading. Both teachers consider ways to integrate the goals and objectives written into students’ IEPs; and the teachers develop these processes on an ongoing basis.
2.6. Co-teaching Models
Co-teaching has different meanings and is usually implemented in numerous ways. Cook and Friend (1995) initially presented co-teaching as a viable solution to special and general educators teaching together in mainstream classrooms. The use of co-teaching between general and special educators in PreK-12 settings has been strongly advocated as a way to meet the learning needs of students who qualify for special educational services (Bauwens & Hourcade, 1995; Vaughn, Schumm, & Arguelles, 1997; Platt, Walker-Knight, Lee, & Hewitt, 2001). Cook and Friend (1995) define co-teaching as “two or more professionals delivering substantive instruction to a diverse, or blended group of students in a single physical space” (p. 2). Wenzlaff, et. al. (2002) agree that co-teaching is “two or more individuals who come together in a collaborative relationship for the purpose of shared work for the outcome of achieving what none could have done alone” (p. 14). Based on these definitions it can be concluded that co-teaching means two or more people sharing responsibility for teaching some or all of the students assigned to a classroom. Through this strategy, the teachers share the responsibility for planning, instruction and assessment but in a manner that involves working and planning together as true team partners not two teachers simply sharing a classroom. Co-teaching is not about taking independent turns planning and instructing, but working together to plan, instruct, and assess student progress.
Co-teaching induces ‘co-operative learning’. Co-operative learning occurs when students work collaboratively towards a common goal (Panitz, 1996). Achievements are positively correlated with the other cooperating students. Students work together in small clusters or groups. The advantages of co-operative learning are numerous. Effective co-operative learning promotes positive interdependence, a feeling of connection with other members of the group as they accomplish a common goal; it promotes ‘individual accountability’ – every member of the group is held accountable for the group’s achievements; it also increases ‘face to face interaction’ and ‘group processing’ where group members engage at close range and are influenced by each other’s verbal communication and they may reflect and discuss how well they are functioning as a unit and how effective their working relationships are.
Teaching in co-taught settings is usually student-centered. The teaching role in a student-centered learning environment is, at most, one of facilitator and guide. The students are in control of their own learning and the power and responsibility are the students concern. Learning may be independent, collaborative, cooperative and competitive. The utilization and processing of information is more important than the basic content. Learning takes place in relative contexts and students are engaged in constructing their own knowledge (Theroux, 2002). The teachers that utilize