styles before entering a co-teaching partnership. Effective communication skills practiced by both teachers support this sharing of beliefs and promote collaboration skills by both educators (Pugach & Johnson, 2002). A sense of parity among participants can also be established when teachers discuss their differences in teaching philosophies and styles as they collaborate to design appropriate educational programs and create the structure for classroom management (Friend & Cook, 2007).
In a co-teaching relationship, both teachers are expected to share the responsibility of teaching to all students (Villa et al., 2004). This includes developing and sharing a common belief of accountability for all students to be academically successful (Kruse & Louis, 1997). Also, taking the time to clarify teacher roles is important to help establish primary, secondary, and equal responsibilities the co-teachers will share as they provide effective instruction in the regular education classroom (Villa et al., 2004).
Co-teachers are also expected to learn to modify instructional materials and delivery of instruction to meet the individual needs of the students in their classroom (Amerman & Fleres, 2003; Pugach & Johnson, 2002; Villa et al., 2004). When both teachers share this responsibility, it creates a classroom that facilitates the inclusion of students with disabilities (Villa et al., 2004).
When teachers enter into a co-teaching partnership, they have the support, time, and resources to develop curricula and teaching strategies that reflect research-based, best practices in teaching and learning (Pugach & Johnson, 2002). As co-teaching arrangements are described, often the details of a co-teaching partnership have characteristics similar to those used to describe a successful marriage; it takes a conscious effort from both teachers to make the co-teaching relationship a successful venture for both of them (Pugach & Johnson, 2002).
In the ideal inclusive, co-teaching environment, teachers develop a shared sense of ownership for all students and work together to create a nurturing environment for students (Dettmer et al., 2005). In her study, Bouck (2007) writes that” in successful co-teaching arrangements both teachers share a view of students as ours, not mine, yours, his, or hers” (p. 47).
Teachers who work together to provide support and guidance to help all students meet their maximum potential; also see themselves being accountable for student achievement (Kim et al., 2006).
Although research lists supportive aspects of co-teaching, there is also research describing difficulties teachers have when working in a co-teaching arrangement. The Struggles co-teachers encounter include time limitations for co-planning, lack of in service opportunities to learn teaching strategies, and inadequate resources to support the inclusive classroom. A study by Magiera & Zigmond (2005) revealed that teachers who co-teach do so under constraints of limited or no training or co-planning time. In order for a co-teaching assignment to work, researchers recommend scheduled planning time during the school day for co-teachers to collaborate and plan instructional activities. Doing so allows the teachers to create curricular modifications and individual accommodations that are critical for students to be successful in the regular education classroom (Creasey & Walther-Thomas, 1996; Weiss & Lloyd, 2002). Because they believe that all students can benefit from a co-teaching arrangement, teachers continue to enter into this collaborative style of teaching (Friend & Cook, 2007).
2.5. Components of Co-teaching
Gately and Gately (2001) have delineated eight components of the co-teaching classroom that contribute to the development of the collaborative learning environment. They have observed that at each developmental stage (the beginning stage, the compromise stage, and the collaborative stage), teachers may express these components somewhat differently. They have also found that some teachers show uneven development across the components, working collaboratively in one component and at the beginning or compromising levels in other components. They believe that identifying the developmental level for each component may help teachers set goals that will let them move more quickly from one developmental level to the next.
2.5.1. Interpersonal Communication
Effective interpersonal communication is essential in the co-teaching relationship. Effective interpersonal communication entails the use of verbal, nonverbal, and social skills. At the beginning stage of co-teaching, communication occurs in a guarded manner, teachers seek to correctly interpret verbal and nonverbal message, with more or less success. There may a clash of communication styles, lack of openness, and a level of dissatisfaction. At the beginning stage, teachers may voice dissatisfaction – or leave it unstated (Gately and Gately 2001).
As the teachers become more effective at interpersonal communication, they move to the second stage of the developmental process. At this stage, interpersonal communication is more open and interactive. There is a marked increase in the amount of communication. Teachers also begin to give and take ideas, develop respect for a different communication style, increase their appreciation of the humor of some classroom situations, and increase their own use of humor in communication. The use of humor may mark the movement from the beginning stage to the compromising stage (Friend & Cook, 2007).
At the collaborative stage, co-teachers begin to model interpersonal communication styles for students. The teachers use more nonverbal communication, and they often develop nonverbal signals to communicate ideas. At the collaborative level, teachers become positive role models of effective communication skills for students. This is an added benefit because students with disabilities in the co-taught classroom often need to develop more effective social interaction skills (Friend & Cook, 2007).
2.5.2. Physical Arrangement
Teachers need to come to some kind of agreement on the physical arrangement of the classroom: the placement and arrangement of materials, students, and teachers. At the beginning stage, physical arrangements often give an impression of separateness. There often appear to be “invisible walls” that separate the space of the two teachers. These walls are rarely crossed by students or teachers. In fact, at the beginning level, it often “feels” as though there is a “classroom within a classroom” (Weiss & Lloyd, 2002, p. 23).
At the compromising stage, one sees more movement and shared space in the classroom. The two teachers begin to share materials, and territoriality becomes less evident. The special education teacher moves more freely throughout the room, but rarely takes the center stage.
At the collaboration level, students’ seating arrangements become intentionally interspersed throughout the classroom for whole-group lessons. All students participate in cooperative grouping assignments. Teachers are more fluid in their positioning in the classroom. Both teachers control space and are cognizant of each other’s position in the room. This fluid movement becomes unplanned and natural in the collaborative co-taught classroom. Space is truly jointly owned now.
2.5.3. Familiarity with the Curriculum
Becoming competent and confident in the general education curriculum is an important component of the co-teaching relationship. Acquiring knowledge of the scope and sequence and developing a solid understanding of the content of the curriculum are essential in progressing to the collaborative stage. At the beginning stage, the special education teacher may be unfamiliar with the content or methodology used by the general education teacher. This lack of knowledge creates a lack of confidence in both teachers. The general education teacher may have limited confidence in the special education teacher’s ability to teach the curriculum and may be reluctant to “give over the chalk” to him. As the two teacher move toward the collaborative stage, the confidence of both teachers grows regarding the curriculum. As the level of competence and confidence increases, general education teachers become more willing to modify the curriculum and share in planning and teaching. At the collaborative stage, both teachers appreciate the specific curriculum competences that they bring to the content area.
2.5.4. Curriculum Goals and Modifications
Dealing effectively with curriculum goals and modifications involves the planning of the specific goals and objectives for each student. When both general and specific education teachers are responsible for the success of all students in the co-taught classroom, the teachers need to discuss goals, accommodations, and modifications that will be necessary for specific students to be successful. Extensive planning that occurs before the start of the school year and on an ongoing basis enhances the co-teaching relationship.
At the beginning stages of the co-teaching relationship, programs tend to be driven by textbooks and standards, and goals tend to be test-driven. At this stage, modifications to the curriculum and accommodations for teachers with special needs are generally restricted to those identified in the individualized programs. The special education teacher’s role is often viewed as the “helper” in the classroom. Little interaction regarding modifications to the curriculum takes place at this stage. As co-teachers move