Collaboration Project Proposal

:

Co-Teaching for Students Who Have Emotional-Behavior Disorders in High School Settings

Melissa Rosanio

SERP 497e
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Abstract

Co-teaching is a style of teaching that is appropriate for children of various ages and can

be utilized in a multitude of settings. The purpose of this project is to determine whether or not

team teaching (co-teaching) is an appropriate method for students who have emotional-behavior

disorders (EBD) who are also working in a high school setting (9th grade). The inspiration for

this project stems from shadowing in a classroom with the majority of students having some type

of EBD.
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Introduction:

This project was inspired by the co-teaching techniques that take place within Sunnyside

High School’s Freshman Academy resource classrooms. The instructors who participated in this

project are Ms. Schroeder, special education, and Mr. Wiggins, general education. Their teaching

environment is a co-taught, 9th grade science classroom with a nearly even balance of general

education and special education students. The interview that took place with each teacher

allowed me to learn about co-teaching from two opposite point of views. Also included in the

interview were questions about a specific student, Victor, who is classified as having an

emotional behavioral disorder (EBD), he presents constant disruptive behavior, uses

inappropriate language with peers and sometimes instructors, and he has an issue trusting

authority figures. The purpose of the interview was to have two experienced instructors expand

on the world of EBD students so that I could compare and contrasts my feelings towards students

with EBD. This project as a whole gave me the opportunity to reflect on co-teaching and allowed

me to think intently about the use of co-teaching in my future classes.

Literature Review:

An article published by Educational Leadership journal titled “Team Teaching in High

School” introduced the idea that students coming from a middle school setting may be expecting

a similar middle school support/team teaching model (Mandel, Eiserman, 2015). Yorktown High

School in Arlington, Virginia decided that their students need the familiarity of having their

teachers follow them throughout the day. Ultimately, the school combined English and History

classes to become a 90-minute block period in which students had two classes and two teachers

in common, thus team-teaching was created at this school. This method worked so well for these

students because it aided in their transition to high school. It gave them an extra year of support
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and helped them become more comfortable with their new surroundings because they were all

taught/supported by at least two teachers. Yorktown discovered that team-teaching not only

benefitted students but they also found three benefits for teachers that would be universally

welcomed if others were introduced to the method. Teaming promotes teacher growth—it brings

together two individuals who have a similar goal and allows them to collaborate on almost every

topic. They can plan lessons and units together; doing so also allows them to identify the various

curriculum objectives that students should be learning. Second, teaming encourages professional

risk taking. Teachers who feel supported by their colleagues generally take more risks than those

who do not. The extra support may give an instructor the courage to bring in new mediums for

media and encourage the use of technology in the classroom. Lastly, teaming provides emotional

support to all. Teaching is a stressful and emotional line of work and by having a colleague in the

same classroom they are also feeling similar emotions. Both parties may face small stresses over

time but having the extra person in the room may allow for the stresses to be diffused.

Another published piece appropriately titled “Co-teaching and Students with Emotional

and Behavioral Disorders” discusses the greater need for educators to encourage more research

on the effects of a teaching arrangement on the performance for students with EBD (McDuffie,

Landrum, Gelman, 2008). Within the article the authors discuss the benefits of having a co-

teaching model for students with EBD such as more opportunities for smaller group instruction,

which equal to less chances for a behavioral disruption. Another benefit discussed is there is a

greater capacity for behavioral intervention than in a typical classroom with one instructor. Co-

teaching allows for instructors to work together on identifying and reducing inappropriate

behavior, leads to discovering a students learning problems, and can help increase interpersonal

relationships.
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The final journal titled “Differentiating Instruction in Co-taught Classrooms for Students

with Emotional/Behavior Difficulties” outlines the benefits of co-teaching students with EBD.

According to Conderman and Hedin, the potential benefits of co-taught classrooms include the

following: smaller teacher-student ratio, opportunities to receive immediate assistance,

opportunities to receive individualized attention, exposure to more than one teaching method,

and opportunities to receive immediate feedback from peers and instructors (Conderman, Hedin,

2014). This ties into the completed projected, as the focus was to discuss ways students with

EBD could be supported by teachers and how co-teaching can support every person in a

classroom.

Methodology for Project:

The purpose of this project was not to define teaching methods that work best for EBD

students but to get a sense of how educators view EBD students and whether or not they feel

those students should receive extra support. This project was aided by interviews with two

instructors from Sunnyside High School, Willow Schroeder and Martin Wiggins. Willow is a

special education instructor and Martin is a general education instructor. The two co-teach a

group of 9th grade students some who have EBD within an integrated science course. The

decision to interview the instructors individually came after observing their interactions with the

students and after learning more about their teaching experience. Each interview began with the

instructor answering very general questions about their teaching styles and experiences. I

discovered that Willow had been teaching at Sunnyside High School for the past five years after

graduating from the University of Arizona’s Cross-Categorical Special Education program.

Martin has been teaching for over two decades and has taught in various districts in the Tucson

area. After learning about their individual teaching backgrounds I began to focus questions in on
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a student, Victor, whose behaviors seem to encapsulate the behaviors that most of their EBD

students have. Victor has been classified as having an EBD and presents with consistent

disruptive behavior, issues with following authority, and uses inappropriate language towards his

peers and teachers on occasion.

Willow was asked the following general questions: In your co-taught classes you tend to

be the support teacher, do you prefer being the support or lead role in co-teaching environment?

How do you view co-teaching from a special education point of view? Her answers were as

expected, she prefers to be the support in the inclusion course to help students individually

throughout a lesson but enjoys being the lead teacher in her resource classes best. She views co-

teaching as a positive teaching style for students with special needs because it allows for one

teacher to provide one on one support. The method she referred to is most likely a one teach-one

support method. Martin was asked the following base questions: Do you typically co-teach with

an instructor from the special education department or does it vary by year? Do you prefer

teaching typical students in their own class or a blend of typical and special education students?

He answered the questions very honestly; he mentioned that he does not typically co-teach and

that it was not his first choice when discussing teaching styles. He also said that he is more

comfortable teaching typical education students based on his own education and background.

After moving on to specific questions about emotional behavioral disorders I discovered

that Wiggins has fewer years of experience working with EBD students therefore his answers felt

less thorough in comparison to Willow. Both instructors mentioned that the majority of freshman

in the special education program do not have a learning or physical disability, in reality they have

an emotional disorder. Schroeder, as a special education instructor, sees herself as an advocate

for these students and supports the idea of giving EBD students their own program. Her training
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has helped her determine what a behavior means and what intervention steps she needs to take to

control or change a negative behavior. Wiggins is also in favor of extra support for EBD students

but believes that they should be taught in a self-contained environment. Wiggins revealed that he

feels at a disadvantage in comparison to Willow because he does not have the same level of

experience with special needs students and finds co-teaching inclusion classes difficult.

Summary:

This project allowed me to gain insight on the positive and negative aspects to co-

teaching students with EBD. The answers acquired from both interviews provided enough

information to compare to my own opinions. The most useful part of the project was the

individual interviews with the cooperating instructors. I was able to reflect on a few very real

concerns that these instructors had and that I might come across in the future. I hope I will not

feel at a disadvantage when I teach my students. Confidence and willingness to learn are two

very important skills that will allow me to continue learning and will keep me from falling

behind as discussed by Mr. Wiggins. I hope to use my education and training that I will acquire

from completing the Mild-Moderate Special Education program for many years to come. Like

Willow, I would love to go into teaching after the completion of the program whether that looks

like teaching in a resource classroom or working in a co-taught environment. As long as I am

able to help all students with learning, physical, or emotional behavior disorders then I will be

fulfilling my goal.

Resources:
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Conderman, G., & Hedin, L. (2015). Differentiating instruction in co-taught classrooms for

students with emotional/behavior difficulties. Emotional & Behavioral

Difficulties,20(4), 349-361.

Mandel, K., & Eiserman, T. (2015). Team Teaching in High School. Educational

Leadership, 73(4), 74-77.

McDuffie, K. A., Landrum, T. J., & Gelman, J. A. (2008). Co-Teaching and Students With

Emotional and Behavioral Disorders. Beyond Behavior, 17(2), 11-16.