"Classroom corners\u2014stale and pale!
Classroom corners\u2014cobweb covered!
Classroom corners\u2014spooky and lonely!
Teacher, let me dance in your
Let the outside world in!"By Albert Cullum
The evolution from teaching in isolated classrooms to sharing responsibility for orchestrated
learning communities is a result of the incorporation of inclusive practices and extensive
research. General and special educators (Native speaking teachers) who co-teach share more
than the classroom environment; they share responsibility for all students' learning. An array
of co-teaching models provides a framework through which general and special educators can
implement success for a diverse classroom of students.
Co-teaching occurs when two or more educators provide instruction to students with varying
abilities in the same physical area. These professionals are partners in the education process
and actively and jointly plan and implement curriculum. The co-teaching pair includes a
general and special educator who can share their expertise and knowledge to provide a rich
experience for all students (Dettmer, Thurston, & Dyck, 1993).
The student population in a co-taught class is diverse. It includes students with disabilities students of varying levels, students from diverse backgrounds. This blending in a general learning community setting provides a richer context for all learners.
The establishment of a common belief about inclusion provides a meaningful context for
decisions pertaining not only to teaching and student management, but also to the way the
team sees itself. Cook and Friend (1996) identified student-centered rationales for the use of
are engaged in their learning as participation and opportunities for interaction are
increased. The fragmentation that occurs with pull-out programs is avoided.
Generalization is enhanced as application of skills and knowledge takes place in the
same environment in which they are introduced.
boundaries of a classroom is isolated from other teachers and classrooms. With co-
teaching, a collegial relationship is established and nurtured. Co-teachers have the
opportunity to relieve each other, help clarify their partner's presentations, and gauge
student needs at particular portions of the curriculum.
Co-teaching arrangements naturally grow out of a close working relationship. There are five
models of cooperative teaching: complementary instruction, station teaching, parallel
teaching, alternative teaching, and team teaching. However in practices the boundaries are
often blurred as student needs and teacher preference evolve (Thousand & Villa, 1990).
When general and special educators collaborate, planning time becomes sacred. Before a
teaching team can represent itself as united in front of a classroom of students, an investment
in time together is crucial. A regularly scheduled planning time, exclusive of interruptions that
typically demand teachers' time, is necessary for planning. An investment in time validates
responsibilities and divisions of labor and also helps build trust between members of the
The high level of trust necessary to become an effective teaching team is grounded in
accountability. Not only does each teacher hold him or herself accountable to follow through
on the commitments made as to time, materials, and academic responsibility, but each
teacher also is held accountable for the structure of the classroom and the content of the
lessons (Thousand & Villa, 1990).
Reflecting on the team's own professional performance is an intimidating thought for most
teachers. However, the only way to grow as a team is to celebrate accomplishments and to
identify those aspects that need further development (Keller & Cheng-Cravedi, 1995). Initially
teams are usually more comfortable reflecting on their performance through student
accomplishments. Discussion of individual teaching and the progress of the team usually follow
with time, increased trust, and risk taking.
matters, such as
reflection, planning and
reevaluation of the co-
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