e regular education teacher is expected to have specialized training in her content area with little or no training in meeting the specific needs of students. On the other hand, the special educator brings to the classroom in-depth knowledge of the individual student learning styles, writing and following a student’s Individual Education Plan (IEP), and accommodations that can or must be made, but with limited knowledge of the subject matter content. Both teachers are expected to blend their areas of expertise to provide instruction to all students while meeting the needs of the learning-disabled student (Magiera, Smith, Zigmond, & Gebauer, 2005). “This method of instruction is likely to increase the outcomes for all students in the general education setting, while ensuring that students with disabilities receive necessary modifications yet are provided instruction by a content expert” (Murawski & Dieker, 2004, p. 64) .
Regular and special educators can embrace the different learning needs of all students using a co-teaching model. School populations today are becoming more and more ethnically diverse. As diversity within the classroom increases, so must the educator’s awareness of the need for accommodations for students with different languages and cultural backgrounds. General education teachers are often ill-prepared to deal with students’ diverse learning needs as well as those of students whose unique learning needs stem from a disability. Team teaching will enable teachers to collaborate on the best ways to accommodate the learning needs of both of these student populations. A special educator who is prepared to work with such diversity can assist the general educator in meeting the needs of students from diverse cultural backgrounds as well as with different learning disabilities (Dieker and Murawski, 2003).
Meeting the needs of all students in the classroom requires a cooperative teaching relationship that is well-defined and well-planned. “Critical issues for teachers are clustered around three major areas: the nature of collaboration, roles and responsibilities, and outcomes” (Keefe & Moore, 2004, p.77).
There are five variations of the co-teaching model. The first variation has one teacher, usually the general educator, taking the instructional lead while the other moves around the room assisting students and answering questions. The second variation involves actually changing the physical arrangement of the room, dividing the room into two stations, with each teacher working with a segment of the curriculum and having students rotate from station to station. The third variation finds both teachers jointly planning the instruction but dividing the classroom into two heterogeneous halves, with each teacher working with just one-half of the class. The fourth variation involves dividing the class into one small and one large group; one teacher provides instruction in the form of pre-teaching, guided practice, or review to the smaller group. The fifth variation finds the teaching model characterized by each teacher taking turns in leading discussions or having both teachers take part in demonstrations (Welch, 2000).
The general education teachers as curriculum experts were most frequently the dominant member of the partnership. It was rare to find the special educator delivering instruction to the entire class, most frequently performing tasks such as recording homework, writing on the blackboard, or conducting short oral reviews (Mastropieri et al. 2005).
Co-teaching should not be just a chance for one educator to get coffee or run copies. “Teachers must also avoid relegating the special education teacher, especially, to a role of glorified aide” (Lawton, 1999, p. 2).
There are other problems that can arise in a co-teaching situation. Most common of those is the lack of common planning time. Many schools are unable to give collaborating teachers time to plan together, forcing the teachers to plan on their own time or to not plan together at all. This puts the burden of planning on the shoulders of one teacher, usually the general educator.
Another problem is the pairing of two teachers together who did not voluntarily choose to teach together. Clashing personalities and differences of opinions about educational philosophy can make the co-teaching pairing ineffective for the students and professionally frustrating for the teachers (Murawski& Swanson, 2001).
There are many different ways to utilize co-teaching relationships. Co-teaching is becoming more prevalent in schools as educational requirements and high stakes testing make the way schools have always addressed students with diversity, whether cultural or learning, obsolete. Although research shows that there are many benefits to having both a regular educator and special educator in the same classroom, there are many factors to be considered in working collaboratively with another teacher. Which factors enhance the relationship, and which factors hinder it? It is not fully reported what makes the most successful partnerships. Therefore, there is a need to further investigate the co-teaching relationship. In order to help educators maximize their time in the classroom and most benefit both students with special needs as well as students without special needs(Bauwens & Hourcade, 1995)
Although co-teaching is represented as a relatively new approach, its practicality has not been certified for a number of reasons. As far as its application is concerned every co-teaching model may not be suitable in all educational settings because students and teachers do not possess similar features. Its adaptability is another concern. For example, in Japanese classrooms not all models of co-teaching are employed except team teaching (Macedo, 2002; Tajino & Larry, 1998; Tajino & Tajino, 2000).
The different possible types of co-teaching can be categorized by imagining a continuum of collaboration. At the low collaboration end are courses planned by a group of faculty and later taught individually by members of the group. They might plan the general content of these related courses, but would teach and evaluate the courses separately; they would not observe each other’s classes. At the highest level of collaboration are courses that are co-planned, co-taught and evaluated by a pair or group of teachers. These courses are self-contained with instructors working simultaneously in the classroom. In other words, all aspects of the course, including instructional time, are collaborative. Teachers trade off lead and supporting teaching roles as they orchestrate instruction. It is likely that most team-taught courses fall somewhere between these extremes. In the literature, is found documentation of team teaching in single courses (Davis, 1995); across a program (Katsura and Matsune, 1994; Rosenkjar, 2002); and institution-wide (Stewart et al., 2002).
Content teachers appear in these sessions only once or twice each term while the language teacher functions as an interpreter of what a subject teachers lectures mean. Similarly, ”foreign languages across the curriculum” often involves an interdisciplinary pair of Instructors working in a single discipline-based course (Jurasek, 1993), but the foreign language teachers involvement in course design may be limited. A much more collaborative approach has been termed ”four-handed” instruction (Corin,1997),in which two teachers typically work in the same classroom with interchanging faculty roles involving one leading the activity and the other assisting.
Until about 1980, language was basically seen to be grammar: that eventually came to be regarded as too distant, too abstract (Davies, 2008). In the 1980s, language was reckoned to be a set of real life encounters and experiences and tasks, a view which took, real life teaching and testing so seriously that it lost both objectivity and generality (Davies 2008). From the 1990s there has been a compromise between these two positions, where language is viewed as being about communication but in order to make contact with that communication it is considered necessary to employ some kind of distancing from the mush of general goings on that make up our daily life in language (Davies 2008).
Grammar is fundamental to language, without grammar, language does not exist. All languages have grammar, and each language has its own grammar” (Beverly as cited in Williams, 2007). People who speak the same language are able to communicate with each other because they all know the grammar system and structure of that language, that is, the meaningful rules of grammar (Beverly as cited in Williams, 2007).
The importance of grammar will hardly be under question by teachers. Most language teaching and textbooks are organized along grammatical criteria. Language teaching professionals have also become increasingly aware that grammar instruction plays an important role in language teaching and learning. Learning grammar depends on teaching in a correct and beneficial way. On the other hand, Reith and Polsgrove (1998) aptly state that, “it is not enough to merely place students within general class settings without providing appropriate training, materials, and support to them and their teachers, “If done so, their failure is the outcome” (p. 257).
Co-teaching is one push-in model that is gaining momentum as more studies emerge in support of its effectiveness in meeting the needs of students with and without identified disabilities. While the majority of the research available on
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