Sunday, August 15, 2010

Working with a Co-Teacher

Classroom teachers work with a variety of support teachers because children may need a variety of services. Services are provided for special education, English language learning, and additional educational support. There are many ways support is provided. The support teacher may pull the child from the regular classroom and serve them in a special classroom. However, the teacher may serve the child in the regular classroom. This service is often referred to as “push in”; the resource teacher pushes into the regular classroom, to serve the child.
If the resource teacher pushes into the regular classroom to serve a child or children, the two teachers should work together to provide the educational services to all the children in the classroom. The classroom teacher and the support teacher must discuss each of their expectations for the services. When the classroom teacher and co-teacher work together as a team, all the children in the classroom benefit greatly. However, working as a team does not happen without thoughtful planning.

When a resource teacher “pushes into” the regular education classroom, often times, the support teacher feels like she should take a back seat, after all, it is not her “classroom”. When this happens, a highly trained teacher may simply “support” the regular classroom teacher and therefore, provide limited services to children. When this occurs, the resource teacher does not really ever teach. However, when a resource teacher pushes into the regular classroom, if the two teachers work as a team, an observer would not know which teacher was the regular classroom teacher or the resource teacher. The two teachers share the teaching responsibilities. Learning to do this and working as a team will be hard work. It will take time planning together and being honest with each other. The following issues need to be discussed for co-teaching to be successful:

1. If grades are required, who will be responsible for them? Is it the regular education teacher’s responsibility or the special education/resource teacher’s?

2. How are grades established? Work together to develop and establish grading guidelines.

3. Classroom management. Whose classroom management procedures will be used? Classroom teachers and resource teachers should discuss the classroom management styles and roles they expect of each other in order to maintain a smoothly running classroom.

4. Time to co-plan. Each week, resource teachers and classroom teachers need time together to plan. One suggestion is to take 45 minutes every week. Another suggestion is to take one-half to one full day every six weeks to discuss and plan extensively. Meet with the school administrators and establish planning time.

Working with a co-teacher can be a positive experience for a new teacher. Use this opportunity to collaborate and partner with another educator. Learn from each other.

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