Case Studies In Co Teaching In The Content Areas

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Intervention in School & Clinic (2005)

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Case Studies In Co Teaching In The Content Areas

  1. 1. Case Studies in Co-Teaching in the Content Areas: Successes, Failures, and Challenges Margo Mastropieri, Thomas Scruggs, Janet Graetz, Jennifer Norland, Walena Gardizi, And Kimberly McDuffy This article discusses several long-term qualitative studies of co-teaching in science and social studies for students with and without disabilities. This article discusses the effective practices and challenges associated with co-teaching. In some cases this co-teaching was effective and useful. In other situations, it was not. The following variables seem to determine the success of failure of the inclusion (i.e., co-teaching) model; academic content knowledge, high-stakes testing, and co-teacher compatibility.
  2. 2. The major goals of co-teaching and collaboration involve : a) Increasing access to a wider range of instructional options for students with disabilities. b) Enhancing the participation of students disabilities within general education classes. c) Enhancing the performance of students with disabilities .
  3. 3. There is a lack of consensus on the specific features required, such as the precise roles and responsibilities of both general and special education teachers and the best way to measure the effectiveness of co-teaching. The challenges associated with co-teaching are highlighted as a procedure to “use with caution,” given the limited amount of efficacy data. What are my roles? What are my responsibilities?
  4. 4. <ul><li>What does the literature say about co-teaching? </li></ul><ul><li>Murawski and Swanson meta-analysis- results varied so greatly that little could be concluded. </li></ul><ul><li>Surveys on students, parents, and teachers associated with co-teaching revealed satisfaction and reported positive outcomes </li></ul><ul><li>Teacher perception studies on co-teaching revealed that co-teaching means different things to different teachers. </li></ul><ul><li>Voluntary participants tend to report more positive perceptions than teachers who were assigned to co-teaching . </li></ul><ul><li>More positive perceptions were also associated with administrative support, additional planning time, similar beliefs about teaching, and mutual respect of one another. </li></ul>
  5. 5. <ul><li>Observational data reveals… </li></ul><ul><li>In many cases, students with disabilities are receiving instruction of generally high quality but lacking in the distinctiveness and intensity considered to be important features of “special” education </li></ul><ul><li>Others have suggested that co-teaching partners can be trained to increase their efficiency, at least with respect to better exchange of roles and increased interaction with individual students. </li></ul>
  6. 6. <ul><li>Omitting important information on measures </li></ul><ul><li>Interviewing teachers only in cases in which co-teaching is successful </li></ul><ul><li>Finding in many cases that teacher personality was the most important variable in co-teaching success </li></ul><ul><li>Lacking a consistent definition of co-teaching </li></ul><ul><li>stating outcomes subjectively </li></ul>with co-teaching …
  7. 7. <ul><li>The presence of special educators in a general education secondary biology classroom </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>contributed to changes in general educators’ instructional behavior </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>contributed to specialized instruction (albeit limited) for students with disabilities </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>contributed to a successful partnership </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>facilitated success for some students with disabilities </li></ul></ul></ul>… however, there is no guarantee that the new instructional practices will continue in the absence of the special education teacher…
  8. 8. <ul><li>Magiera (2002) observed 11 co-taught middle school classes to document how students with disabilities spent their time: </li></ul><ul><ul><li> targeted students interacted more with the general education teacher and received more individual instruction and management when the co-teacher was present  </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. <ul><li>Weiss and Lloyd (2002) identified the following challenges with co-teaching </li></ul><ul><li>Because of frequent gaps in academic and behavioral domains between general and special education students, the classes were frequently split; however, in these circumstances, students with disabilities did not receive high levels of direct skill instruction and interaction with teachers. </li></ul><ul><li>Little time was identified for special education teachers to deliver or modify instruction </li></ul><ul><li>Overall, general education teachers were “content specialists” and special educators took on role of instructional aide. </li></ul>
  10. 10. <ul><li> When teachers co-taught, they rarely accessed all the components identified as important for co-teachers, such as using a variety of instructional models and co-planning. </li></ul><ul><li>Although teachers may be in a room simultaneously, these results indicate that they may not be using optimal methods of co-teaching, and this could negatively impact student performance. </li></ul>Weichel’s Observations..
  11. 11. <ul><li>Case Studies of Collaboration and Co-Teaching </li></ul><ul><li>Researchers worked close with general and special education teachers from 1 semester to 2 years. </li></ul><ul><li>In most cases, the general and special educators worked collaboratively with researchers to identify optimal research-based instructional materials and practices to increase the performance of students with disabilities. </li></ul><ul><li>Extensive observations of class activities, field notes, videotapes of classes, interviews with teachers and students, and artifacts (samples of work) </li></ul><ul><li>Data analyses in these cases were qualitative and inductive </li></ul>
  12. 12. <ul><li>Case 1: Upper Elementary and Middle School Earth Science </li></ul><ul><li>Each team appeared to have </li></ul><ul><li>Outstanding working relationships [Upbeat personalities, respected one another’s positions and opinions, would interject during lessons, non-threatening manner, trusted each other] </li></ul><ul><li>Strengths as motivators [ claimed ownership for everyone in class, enthusiastic teaching] </li></ul><ul><li>Time allocated for co-planning [school did not give time, so they met before/after school and lunch, since good relationship, lack of scheduled planning time was not a barrier, said it would have been easier if administration allowed to co-plan, during meetings, they reviewed where they were in content, what needed to be covered, and best ways to present information and complete activities. </li></ul>
  13. 13. <ul><li>Case 1: Upper Elementary and Middle School Earth Science </li></ul><ul><li>Each team appeared to have </li></ul><ul><li>Appropriate Curriculum [hands on, activity-based approach to instruction that made content more concrete for students, curriculum itself was an initial starting place for making specific teaching adaptations for students with disabilities, a hands on approach makes teachers more likely to share responsibilities and ensure all students understand and complete activities] </li></ul><ul><li>Effective Instructional Skills [effective classroom management with the entire class, students on task and completed activities, employed use of positive behavior reinforcement] </li></ul><ul><li>Disability-Specific Teaching Adaptation [discussed specific adaptations that were required for students with disabilities, discussed how to handle differences with the lesson, how these students can participate in activities] </li></ul><ul><li>Expertise in the Content Area [Although the general educator was the science-content expert and the special educator the adaptation expert, both deferred to one another during instruction so all students would benefit. The teachers frequently changed roles as presenters, at the 7 th grade level, roles were more defined, the general educator seemed to have advantage over content than the special educator, but the special educator viewed it as an advantage, but on occasion would present to the entire group. </li></ul>
  14. 14. <ul><li>Case 2: Middle School Social Studies (Government/Civics) </li></ul><ul><li>Many examples of positive collaboration, many challenges existed </li></ul><ul><li>Co-Planning – started off well, but relationship eroded . Co-planning was not scheduled, and tension between educators arose . One teacher “took over” and the other felt helpless , and felt as if he had no control of the curriculum. The principal said “forced marriages often fail”… </li></ul><ul><li>Researchers speculate that this did not work because a) differences in individual teaching style b) behavior management c) and ideas about class preparation may have influenced the deterioration of the co-teaching. </li></ul><ul><li>behavior management/ teaching style – 2 ends of spectrum, one teacher expected undivided attention, the other more casual (background noise, students walking around). Students adapted to both styles, but it may be that such extreme teaching style differences contributed to the deterioration of the collaborative working relationship between teachers. </li></ul>
  15. 15. Case 3: High School Class <ul><li>The following instructional components were used by all teams: </li></ul><ul><li>Presented information to the class as a whole </li></ul><ul><li>reviewed the textbooks, major points or text-based chapter questions with the class as a whole </li></ul><ul><li>Assigned work that could be started in class but required work outside of class for completion </li></ul><ul><li>Assigned longer-term, project-based activities </li></ul><ul><li>Implemented some technology-based graphic organizers </li></ul>
  16. 16. <ul><li>Collaboration (Case 3) </li></ul><ul><li>Each team exhibited: </li></ul><ul><li>Distinct working roles and responsibilities </li></ul><ul><li>An emphasis on the statewide end-of-year testing </li></ul>
  17. 17. <ul><li>General Education teachers were curriculum experts, had dominant role </li></ul><ul><li>Special Education teachers rarely delivered content. </li></ul><ul><li>Special Education teachers collected/graded assignments, gave one-on-one help </li></ul><ul><li>Occasionally roles changed, Special Educator wrote on board, or gave oral review </li></ul><ul><li>One group changed roles whenever technology was used </li></ul><ul><li>Division of roles seemed to be easily defined, not questioned </li></ul><ul><li>Both teachers seemed satisfied with roles </li></ul><ul><li>General educators believed they had more background knowledge in content </li></ul><ul><li>Special educators almost seemed relieved that they didn’t have to teach </li></ul><ul><li>Possibly because world history requires breadth and depth of understanding, maybe not as confident teaching this subject. </li></ul>
  18. 18. High-Stakes Testing Emphasis <ul><li>High-states testing at the end of the school year appeared to be the most significant driving force influencing all activities undertaken during instruction </li></ul><ul><li>School district gave content “timelines,” and teachers evaluated on basis of these guidelines </li></ul><ul><li>Teachers reluctant to stray from guidelines , felt pressure for students to pass high-stakes tests. </li></ul><ul><li>Teachers felt computer lab use reduced amount of time for lecturing and introducing new content </li></ul><ul><li>Unfortunately, attempts to differentiate instruction for students with disabilities appeared lost to the emphasis of moving quickly through the content in order to finish in time for the high-stakes tests. </li></ul>
  19. 19. Case 4: High School Chemistry <ul><li>Instructional Approach </li></ul><ul><li>Teachers presented information to the class as a whole </li></ul><ul><li>Teachers reviewed the textbooks, major points or text-based chapter questions, class-wide lab activities </li></ul><ul><li>Teachers sometimes gave longer-term, project-based activities </li></ul><ul><li>Tests and quizzes administered on a regular basis. </li></ul><ul><li>Collaboration </li></ul><ul><li>Distinct working roles and responsibilities </li></ul><ul><li>Differentiated instruction </li></ul><ul><li>An emphasis on the statewide end-of-year testing. </li></ul>
  20. 20. <ul><li>Roles and Responsibilities </li></ul><ul><li>General Educator was curriculum expert, Special Educator was “extra help teacher” </li></ul><ul><li>Both comfortable in roles </li></ul><ul><li>General Educator lectured in front, Special Educator circulated in back </li></ul><ul><li>During lab, both worked with small groups </li></ul><ul><li>Good working relationship </li></ul><ul><li>Even smoother the second year as they became familiar with each other’s teaching styles </li></ul><ul><li>Differentiated Instruction </li></ul><ul><li>Peer Tutoring materials were used, with embedded strategies throughout. This benefited both general and special education students </li></ul><ul><li>Majority of class time spent completing lab activities. Students with disabilities were provided role specific work and assistance from peers. </li></ul><ul><li>Complex vocabulary, high level reading of textbook, rapid pace of instruction , and the high abstract level of content made this a difficult area to employ co-teaching . </li></ul><ul><li>High-Stakes Testing Emphasis </li></ul><ul><li>Both teachers felt pressure from these tests, and it influenced class activities </li></ul><ul><li>District-recommended timelines created pressure to cover content in a rapid pace- took precedence over maximizing student learning. Despite knowing that some required more practice, the pressure to move through the content was so overwhelming that additional practice was offered after school and on Saturdays, rather than in class </li></ul>
  21. 21. Good sir, the major themes we discern are, academic content, influence of high-stakes testing, and compatibility of co-teachers <ul><li>Academic Content </li></ul><ul><li>The interaction between course content and teacher knowledge did prove to have a substantial influence on co-teaching </li></ul><ul><li>Special education teachers frequently took on the role of instructional aide in secondary content-area classrooms. </li></ul><ul><li>Level of content knowledge was likely to determine who the dominant teacher would be </li></ul><ul><li>Co-Teacher Compatibility </li></ul><ul><li>All students seem to benefit when teachers are compatible </li></ul><ul><li>Mutual trust and respect for one another’s expertise </li></ul><ul><li>Best when strategic instruction was employed </li></ul><ul><li>High-Stakes Testing (HST) </li></ul><ul><li>HST exerted a strong influence on how content was covered and collaboration. </li></ul><ul><li>Where HST did not exist, teachers freer to decide what content to cover and how to cover it. </li></ul><ul><li>rapid instruction determines how content will be covered </li></ul><ul><li>Teachers unwilling to omit items if thought it’d be on HST </li></ul>

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