facilitator of effective communication, cooperation, and coordination who confers, consults, and collaborates with other school personnel…on a team that addresses special learning and behavioral needs of students” (p. 6).
Although scholars have argued for the value of collaboration, it is often difficult to put it into practice. Some teachers desire to collaborate but the organizational structure of schools leaves little time during the school day for them to work together to develop appropriate curriculum and teaching strategies(Skrtic et, 1996).
How to help teachers move from a traditional non-collaborative environment to one where collaboration is embraced and practiced remains a topic of interest for scholars and educators (Lipsky & Gartner, 1996). Haynes (2006) found some regular education teachers were territorial, like the traditional one teacher-one class structure, and were reluctant to share their classroom with another teacher. It is important for any particular school to find an effective collaboration model and strategy, as not all models and strategies transfer effectively from one school to another or more specifically, one classroom to another (Cramer & Stivers, 2007). The literature on collaboration between special education and regular education identified (a) characteristics of effective collaboration between special education and regular education, and (b) benefits of collaboration between special education and regular education teachers for teachers and students.
As a result of debates over mainstreaming and the regular education initiative a national trend developed to attempt to place special education students in general education classrooms (Walther-Thomas, 1997). Suggestions for new special education service delivery models began to emerge to accommodate the trend (Creasey & Walther-Thomas, 1996). Collaborative consultation (Idol, Paolucci-Whitcomb, & Nevin, 1994), mainstream assistance teams (Fuchs, Fuchs, & Bahr, 1990) and cooperative teaching (Bauwens, Hourcade, & Friend, 1989) were well-known examples. A common characteristic of these models is their emphasis on assisting students with academic and behavioral needs by providing supports within the general education classroom. The philosophical underpinning of cooperative teaching began with Bauewens, Hourcade, and Friend’s (1989) definition of it as an educational approach used by general and special education teachers and includes joint planning and teaching of heterogeneous learners within an integrated setting. In this model both general and special education teachers are present at the same time and are simultaneously responsible for specific classroom instruction.
In the 1990’s, Cook and Friend (1995) shortened the term cooperative teaching to co- teaching. They believed co-teaching was an approach with the potential to help all teachers meet the growing demands of students with disabilities as they became integrated into the regular classroom. Basing their recommendations on the mostly anecdotal records of successful co-teaching partnerships (Adams & Cessna, 1991; White & White, 1992), Cook and Friend also expanded the co-teaching concept by developing a more specific definition and delineation of components. In their definition, co-teaching consists of two or more educators, one of whom is the general education teacher, and one or more educators who could be a special education teacher or a related service provider. General educators have expertise in the curriculum taught in the classroom and special educators can identify specific needs of individual students and enhance the curriculum to meet these needs. An important aspect of Cook and Friend’s definition is that each educator is responsible for delivering substantive instruction. Both teachers are actively involved with the students and neither is serving as a monitor. The third part of their definition states co-teachers work together in a general education classroom that consists of a diverse group of students. When the co-teaching concept was in its early stages, Cook and Friend (1996) described five variations of the model (1996). These were 1) one teach-one assist where one teacher takes the role of instructional leader and the other assists when students needed, 2) station teaching, room is divided into areas that each student travels to in order to receive segments of the curriculum from the teachers, 3) parallel teaching where teachers plan together but each takes responsibility for half of the class, 4) alternative teaching in which students are organized into a large group and a small group and the teachers assign who will work with each group, and 5) team teaching where both teachers take turns in leading instruction. Researchers have pointed to the team teaching model as the variation of co-teaching that provides optimum benefit to students and teachers (Dieker, 2001; Dieker & Murawski, 2003; Scruggs, Mastropieri, & Mcduffie, 2007). Over time, however, the one teach-one assist model emerged in the research literature as the prevalent model in the co-taught classrooms studied (Scruggs, et al., 2007).
Cook and Friend (1995) developed a rationale for implementing the co-teaching model as a way to successfully include special education students in the general education classroom. First, co-teaching is a means to increase instructional opportunities for all students. It has been suggested that merging the strengths of two professionals with different areas of emphasis allows them to meet the diverse needs within the classroom (Bauwens, et al., 1989). Second, the intensity and integrity of students’ instructional programs can be improved. Special education students do not have to lose instructional time due to transitions to pullout settings and they can generalize their learning to the regular education curriculum more effectively. Third, the stigma experienced by special education students can be reduced or eliminated. In order for this to occur however, the students are taught the regular education curriculum with modifications and supports and are not pulled to side of the room to receive instruction. Fourth, teachers can experience higher levels of professional support and efficacy, which leads to improved teaching performance and better opportunities for student achievement
2.3. Characteristics of Effective Collaboration
Effective collaboration between teachers is characterized by personality traits of teachers and other essential qualities. An overarching characteristic of successful collaboration found in the literature is collegiality between the regular education teacher and the special education teacher (Dettmer et al., 2002).
To support a collegial atmosphere among teachers there must be support, respect, communication, and cooperation among them too (Dettmer et al., 2002, 2005). Additionally, Friend and Cook (2007) further describe elements of effective collaboration between teachers, saying, “participation is voluntary, parity among participants is required, mutual goals are developed, a shared responsibility for participation and decision making is insured, teachers share resources, and teachers share accountability for student outcomes” (pp. 8 – 12).
In a collaborative teaching arrangement, both teachers combine their expertise to determine effective methods to deliver the curricular content by modifying instructional methods, materials, and curriculum (Haynes, 2006; Stanovich, 1996). The special educator usually has expertise in designing an alternate instructional delivery model; whereas, the regular education teacher is competent in the area of curriculum (Friend, 2007; Villa & Thousand, 2005).
A study by Janney, et al (1995) found that regular education teachers appreciated the practical, student specific information shared by the special education teacher: “The [special education] teachers…let me know, okay, these students can achieve at this level…[and] these are little things that [Mickey] can possibly do, [so] then I can watch for them.” (p. 99). The study by Weiss and Lloyd (2002) also supported a feeling of satisfaction by special education teachers participating in collaborative relationships with regular education teachers. A reciprocal relationship can develop in a collaborative partnership between a regular education teacher and a special education teacher (Haynes, 2006).
2.4. Characteristics of Co-teachers and Co-teaching
Essential characteristics of co-teachers found in the literature include flexibility, compatible teaching philosophies and styles, shared responsibility and accountability, receptive in learning different curricular presentation styles and modification strategies, and equitable acceptance of all students. Active participation by both participants is necessary for the co-teaching partnership to be an effective service delivery model in the regular education classroom (Friend, 2007).
Flexibility is an important trait required by teachers to use when working with individual student learning styles and each other (Bouck, 2007). Having a diverse classroom of students with multiple learning styles, co-teachers have to master flexibility to meet individual student needs. Teachers also practice flexibility with each other as they demonstrate a willingness to compromise and negotiate when planning instruction, learning activities, and classroom management responsibilities (Friend, 2007).
A study of co-teaching by Bouck (2007) reports effective co-teachers discuss individual educational teaching philosophies and