I am an easy sell. I’m very easily convinced by marketing tricks. If an advertisement tells me one product is better than another, it might be enough to make me form an opinion about something about which I was previously indifferent. Because of this, I try to be very careful when I make decisions.
When it comes to my teaching program, I am pretty well aware that a lot of things sound really great in theory, but I should reserve my opinions and enthusiasm until I actually see it in practice or experience it personally. Something that I am really excited about is co-teaching. I’m not going to describe it in too much detail here, because there are a ton of other resources that are well-written and more thorough than I would be. As I’ve heard many educators say in many different contexts, “Why reinvent the wheel?” This is a good place to start reading about it if you’re curious. Co-teaching appeals to me a lot because one of the things I am most concerned about with teaching is allowing students to fall through the cracks or failing to notice the signals my students are giving me. Being part of a team has always appealed to me more than being one person “against the world”.
This video is the first thing that really piqued my interest and made co-teaching something I wanted to pursue in the future. My only other experience with co-teaching was in 7th grade. During this year, two humanities teachers combined their classrooms into one huge class and they taught together. I thought it was a really cool idea at the time, mostly because it allowed most of my friends to be in the “same class” even though in all of our academic records we were in two separate classes. It wasn’t until now that I’ve come to appreciate the rationale and strategy behind these teachers’ decision to teach in this manner.
As someone focused on special education, I think co-teaching is an awesome idea because it allows more students to benefit from what special education teachers have to offer, not just the students who have IEPs or 504 plans. I think one of the teachers mentions that in the video. The fact of the matter is, some kids really struggle in general education and if they don’t qualify for special education services, their needs may not be met adequately or even at all. Co-teaching allows special education teachers to provide additional support to any student who needs it, which is really important to me.
My favorite approach to co-teaching is the team teaching approach. In this approach, the teachers are equals. Students do not consider one teacher “their teacher” and one teacher “the other teacher”. An outside observer would not be able to differentiate between the general ed teacher and the special ed teacher. Of course my favorite approach seems to be the most difficult to achieve. The video is an example of team teaching and like they say, it is a marriage. Think about how hard it is for people to find a suitable spouse (and how many people choose one, only to find that it’s not working). I can only imagine how difficult it is to find a suitable match with whom to team teach.
Anyway, I love the idea of co-teaching and especially the idea of team teaching. When an approach is new and not very common, I think it’s important for people to have good experiences with it and for people to see examples of it effectively utilized. If neither of those things happens, people won’t believe in it and they will not seek it out as an option for their classrooms. A lot of people are stuck in the “why mess with what works?” mentality, even though I don’t think many of us believe what is happening now in most schools is “working”. I really want co-teaching to work in the real world. That’s why what I’m seeing in the algebra classroom I’m in right now (mentioned in my last post) is so disappointing to me. More on this later…