I thought I had posted this topic last week, but can't find it. My rural k-12 school is going to total inclusion and team teaching next year. I am wondering if anyone else has had any experience with this and how it went. We have heard from some teachers in our area that have been doing this, but I am looking for ALL responses, not just the success stories. Any tips, stories, or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks,
Lynn

Tags: Inclusion, collaboration, teaching, team

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Lynn,

This was done years ago in a rural district I taught in. When the sped and the regular teacher are friends or on equal footing, it works very well. But I've heard complaints that sometimes the sped teacher is used as a gopher and never allowed to teach a class. If the two teachers truly share the load, it is effective. If the sped teacher is consigned to be the class aide or a gopher, it is not as effective. The two teacher must truly be a team - on equal footing!
Anne,
Key words might be years ago. It is unclear to me why our district is doing this. Sharing the load-does that mean the sped teacher grades the papers as well? Isn't there an issue of being certified to do certain things? I have a two day training on it next week. I can see how sped teachers' roles could become as aids. And to be perfectly honest, I am having a hard time with the concept of it. I did have a down syndrome student with his teacher in one class this past semester. She differentiated the tests and quizzes. Some I agreed with, and one thing I did not. The student ended up with a B- in the class. I had to note that it was modified curriculum and tests on the report card, but still. I didn't feel that it was right. I don't have a choice here;so I have to do what I am asked of. It is just unclear to me how it will really work.
Just curious, why did you feel like your student getting a B- wasn't right?

I'm a special ed teacher, and we frequently have discussions that remind me of your post. Here are some thoughts from the special ed side: Did the student make gains? Did the student work hard? Did the student do his own work? If a student works as hard, completes as much work, and makes the same gains as his peers, should he penalized for limitations related to a disability? Who gets hurt or negatively affected if he gets an annoted B- on his report card?

I don't have experience with co-teaching, but I talk with a decent amount of teachers who co-teach or work in a building with co-teaching, and I feel like a lot of concerns center around the issue already raised here (division of labor) and a lot center around issues of double standards.
I did not mean to be disrespectful to the student or special ed teachers. My concern about the grade was that the other students did totally different tests, quizzes, and essays. I understand differentiation and his assignments were differentiated. This student did not do anything like the others. I honestly don't know if all of the work was completed by the student or the sp. ed teacher. She says that he found information about the real life characters of the play-paragraphs-he typed the information, cut the paragraphs out, and pinned them to a stuffed monkey. Since I have absolutely NO background on what he is capable of doing, how can I assume that he researched the internet and found this information? I also have no idea of what gains he made. I attended his IEP before he entered my class, but learned nothing of what he was capable of doing. The student sits in my class and does absolutely nothing. He then works with his sp. ed teacher at a different time and different place. Here is the deal-our school has dropped the CD part of the special ed department-that is where this child fell and that was what his teacher did. Now that there is no one but this student left for next year, he will be a part of inclusion and so will the teacher. It is a sticky situation. Help me understand. Honestly, I am not trying to be difficult or disrespectful.
L.
Hmm. I see where you're coming from. Unfortunately, I can't help you understand because I'm thinking that what you're experiencing is not what coteaching and inclusion mean to be and you seem to be at a total disadvantage in terms of information about your special ed students.

All I can say is if I were the special education teacher in this situation, I would want to meet regularly with you to let you know what exactly the student was doing and what kind of accomodations I was using. Or, if I didn't want to meet with you (because I can imagine that to some people that may seem like the sped teacher is the subordinate), I would at least be prepared to defend the grade that I gave my student just like I would think that my regular ed partner would be prepared to defend his/her own expectations and assignments. Then I would hope that both partners would be open to questions. I work in a small classroom team of teacher (me), classroom assistant, and social worker. I worked in the same triad for 7 years, and it took that long to get to that point, but I think that's where the coteaching relationship needs to go.

I think that you know what the student did because the special ed teacher told you what he did. Unless you have reason not to believe her, you probably need to just believe her. And, if you are unsure about what the child's abilities are, you should be able to ask the special ed teacher (if she knows that information) or consult the file. Do you have access to the files? Do you have time to consult with your special ed partner?
The fact that you noted it was a modified grade covered you.
I agree. special Ed teachers require more extensive training than general ed teachers, at least here in California. Both teachers must be able to work together collaboratively. Done correctly, this modle is very effective. More so than the push in, where the RSP teacher goes into the class and mainly is like an aide.
All our 5th graders receiving resource services at our elementary school will have inclusion next year. I will let you know how things progress. I am hoping that greater technology integration will help make this successful.
Lynn, I'd say that change can be good and in fact inclusion may work well in your school. If it's a done deal then there is no need to worry about the possible negatives but look for the positives. I assime the children who need special ed services have IEPs and the IEPs should spell out what services they will get. Usually in inclusion classrooms some struggling students without IEPs can be helped by the skjills and strategies of the special ed teachers. Get over the idea of 'my classroom, think about making it the best situation for all kids and you should be fine.

PS--there could be lots of reasons your district is going to the inclusion model. In our district it helped prevent students from certain subgroups from being over-identifed for services. We had been cited by the state for that. In special ed (and education in general) philosophies come and go--inclusion is 'in', 'self contained' and 'pullout' is out! It'll change back one of these days.
thanks for your response-read my post to Kate f. I think it explains my concerns. If not, let me know, and I will try to clarify. I must say, though, it IS hard to give up one's classroom. WORKING on that!
There is no way around this situation but to build a relationship with the kiddo and his spec ed teacher. Someone has to 'take the higher road'. Work to give up some of your control and find a way to work together. Nothing positive will come from divisiveness--a year from now you can look back and say 'hey that worked well and we really strived to meet the needs of the kiddo'. What is CD? Another good resource would be to have the parents come in as part of the team--you can call an IEP meeting to get your concerns addressed. Good Luck, N
Lynn,
I was the Regular Ed teacher in an inclusion classroom for years and it worked because the Sp. Ed. teacher and I had the same philosophy of educating children. We could finish each others' sentences, we added humor, and also spent a lot of time planning. I loved it. My para was very effective as well. I had all levels of abilities (from bipolar to hearing and visually impaired to gifted and talented) and we instilled a team/family spirit from day one. I can remember once having a new student with a chip on his shoulder as he entered, and before I could say anything, my students said, "We don't accept that kind of behavior here," and I was pleasantly shocked--they OWNED the philosophy of the classroom. I had one child who would eat pencil lead/graphite and rub it all over her face. Before I was aware, children at the table were already grabbing the face wipes as they took her pencil and would clean her face without even interrupting instruction!
The key is: if the Sp. Ed. teacher does not feel ownership of the room and actively participate in instruction (for example, my sp. ed. teacher and I would trade teaching duties/scribing, etc.), it will fail.
Good luck!

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