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Based upon the case study and discussion
I have developed a schedule for implementing an action plan.
Provide a rationale/objective for the following catogories: Co-teaching, Communication, Diverse Lesson Plans (gifted, regular education and special education students), Time Management, and Shared Responsibilites that explains the action plan and why it should resolve the situation.
Case 1?Audrey?s Story
From Harris, K., et.al., Collaborative Elementary Teaching
Will Co-teaching with a Special Educator Really
Meet All My Students? Needs?
Audrey, a third-grade teacher, has been teaching for about 20 years. She has always had diverse groups of students in her classes. She has been most accommodating to those students with problems. This year, she is being asked to co-teach with a special educator. This district?s plan is to serve the special education resource students in elementary classrooms. Audrey doesn?t mind working with the students, but she is not sure of the teacher. She?s also concerned that her curriculum will be ?watered down?.
Third-Grade Teacher: Audrey (main character)
Special Education Resource Teacher: Betty
This is Audrey?s story. Audrey is a third-grade teacher who has been teaching for about 20 years. She?s been in her present school for about 5 years. This kindergarten through eighth-grade school is in a low to middle socioeconomic neighborhood.
This year, the district office encouraged the special education resource teachers to conduct collaborative teaching activities as a way to provide services to students with special needs. The district offered a class in cooperative teaching. Since Audrey wasn?t sure how to co-teach with a special educator, she enrolled in the district class as did her co-teaching partner, Betty. Audrey went to all the sessions. She really enjoyed learning about different cooperative teaching models and strategies for the effective use of planning time.
Betty and Audrey decided to collaborate in Audrey?s class four days a week. Monday through Thursday, Betty came into Audrey?s class during the language arts period. There were two special education students in Audrey?s class during that period. When Betty came in, she also brought four other third-grade students with special needs. She took them out of their regular third-grade class and brought them with her to Audrey?s third-grade classroom for co-taught language arts instruction. These students with special needs had low reading and writing skills as well as behavior problems.
Audrey?s Story, Part A
I wasn?t sure how collaborative teaching could work, so I decided to enroll in a course the district was offering on this topic. The course was informative. The instructor shared many teaching and planning strategies. An advantage was that Betty also enrolled in the course. At least we were getting to know each other outside our co-taught classroom.
Betty and I easily co-teach with one another. We are responsive to each other?s cues and easily incorporate each other into whatever is happening. For example, the other day, Betty and I decided to do a literature lesson on the ?big idea? and help students to identify details that go with this ?big idea?. While I was introducing this concept to the whole group, Betty was walking around the room and monitoring students? behavior. Betty made sure students were paying attention or made sure they were on the right page in their books. Once in a while, Betty would interject something to the whole group to reinforce something I was saying. She also occasionally would announce that a particular student seemed ready to answer. Betty is particularly aware of how the students with behavior and learning problems are functioning and when they can successfully participate in large group activities.
Betty and I even made it a point to plan what we would be doing when she was in my classroom. First, we set aside lunch time on Thursday. However, that didn?t seem to give us enough time to decide what to do about the issues we identified. So we changed our planning time to Friday. I have a prep period when my students go to their specials, namely music, art, and physical education. Betty changed her schedule so that she could meet with me on Friday during my prep period.
Betty is easy to be with, and is very accommodating in her schedule, but she seems really disorganized. I am compulsive and like things my way in my room. What do you expect? I have been teaching for 20 years. Betty is younger than I and has been teaching about 6 years. She says she has co-taught with elementary teachers before. Maybe this will work.
I?m a little concerned about my high-achieving students. I brought up that concern during one of our planning meetings, but Betty seemed more interested in addressing modifications we need to make for the students with learning and behavior problems.
I really feel that we are short-changing those high-achieving students who are in my room. I feel that my goals for language arts this year need to incorporate phonics even though I am more interested in using a literature-based approach to instruction. To follow district guidelines, I don?t really use units of instruction. I plan lessons that last, at the most, only about a week. I feel constrained by the skill-based curriculum that is textbook driven, and I really feel that my high-achieving students are suffering with this approach to language arts. I have three to four students who I feel need enrichment. They read at about a fifth- to sixth-grade level, and they?re very creative. I want them to keep learning and I don?t want them to become bored. We don?t really have a program for gifted students at this school.
On top of this problem with the high-achieving students, Betty, who I thought would help with this kind of thing, is turning out to be a handful. Betty does not keep things in their place, and the room is not as clean as it was when it was mine. She collects and keeps everything. She?s a pack rat. How can I function like this?
One situation really frosted it. One day, I had to leave early for an appointment. Betty said she could handle the class. I left thinking everything would be handled. When I returned the next morning, I found all the materials used by the students still on their desks. The board was full of information from yesterday?s class with Betty. Her teaching materials were strewn all over the countertops and desk. I just can?t function this way. Something has got to be done if I am to get through this year.
1. Audrey was not new to serving students with special needs in an inclusive setting. She was new to co-teaching and sharing a room with a special educator. What else could have been done to help Audrey with this change?
2. Audrey and Betty are co-teaching students with mild disabilities and high achievers in a school for at-risk students and non-native English speakers. What should these teachers incorporate into their instruction to best meet the needs of all these students?
3. What co-teaching structures would enhance the success of all the students in this co-taught class?
4. What interpersonal strategies would you suggest Audrey consider as she attempts to resolve this situation?
1. Many of Audrey?s complaints and problems were due to her being unfamiliar with co-teaching, with sharing her classroom with another educator. For someone who has worked alone for twenty years, sharing her classroom involved as many changes as entering into any new relationship. Therefore, both Betty and Audrey need to communicate, collaborate, and cooperate. They need to discuss their needs and their concerns with each other to avoid growing difficulties and resentments because ultimately the two teachers have the potential to work well together and complement each other in the classroom. Both teachers are adept at working with students with special needs: Audrey is simply more concerned about gifted students than Betty is and vice-versa.
Audrey?s main concerns were Betty?s teaching habits, rather than her teachingapproach. Audrey was not disappointed with Betty?s ability as a teacher. In fact, she was delighted by her performance and her ability to assist students with special needs. What Audrey was concerned about was keeping the classroom well-organized and neat. The second of Audrey?s concerns was regarding the accelerated students, Audrey felt were being shortchanged by paying too much attention to the special needs students.
Although Audrey benefited greatly from the co-teaching training course, she was not prepared for the sharing of her classroom. One of the first things she could have done would have been to meet privately with Betty to discuss matters related to classroom management and organization. Just as if she had a roommate, Audrey also needed to make some compromises of her own, such as accepting a few messy desks in exchange for a harmonious co-teaching relationship. Having to wipe the blackboard clean every morning is not a major issue, one that Audrey can easily learn to put up with in exchange for a good co-teacher.
Finally, understanding Audrey and Betty?s attitude toward the accelerated students. If the two teachers met after-hours, perhaps with other teachers as advisors or mediators, they might have been able to reach an agreement on how to meet the needs of accelerated students as well as special needs students. Audrey and Betty should talk openly about their concerns so that they can reach compromise about how to run their classroom. Intervention on the part of other educational professionals such as principals might have helped.
2. Co-teaching a classroom as diverse as theirs involves careful lesson planning. As Audrey noted, Betty worked especially well with the special needs students and accommodated to their needs well. However, Audrey was concerned that the accelerated students were suffering because of the extra attention paid to the students whose first language was not English, or those with behavioral problems. In an environment in which all students need to do well on their own, but not at the expense of any other, cooperation and collaboration are essential.
Therefore, Audrey could have devised curriculum that appealed to accelerated students, such as opportunities for extra-curricular activities. For example, since she was literature-oriented, Audrey could have suggested ideas for essays that enabled the accelerated students to excel, but not at the expense of others in the class.
3. To enhance the success of all students in the co-taught class, Audrey and Betty should adopt creative co-teaching structures. The two teachers need to work separately as well as together, combining their talents in the way that met the needs of all students. For instance, if Betty worked best with students with special needs or those with behavioral problems then she could address those students? needs by providing special in-class instruction while Audrey continued with her lecture/lesson.
Another productive option would be for Betty and Audrey to offer extra credit to the accelerated students, in exchange for tutoring the special needs students and students whose first language was not English. The experience would help the accelerated students and the students with special needs develop friendships and interact, when they might not otherwise. Thus, the situation would create a positive social situation in a classroom that could too easily become segregated.
Also, Betty and Audrey could structure the classroom differently each week or each day, alternating a circular classroom with a typical lecture format and with the occasional group project. This way, students get the opportunity to work in different settings, with all of their classmates, in ways that suit all the students. Different learning styles would be accounted for in a setting as open and flexible as this.
Audrey mentioned that she would teach while Betty roamed around the classroom making sure students were paying attention or were on the right page. Audrey and Betty should alternate their roles as primary teacher and teacher?s aide so that neither becomes dominant in the classroom. The idea is to co-teach, not to set up a situation where one teacher has more authority than the other. Power struggles should be avoided as much as possible. Because Audrey has more than a decade more experience than Betty, the latter would easily defer to Audrey in times of disagreement.
Finally, the co-teachers should meet after hours as much as possible to discuss their progress as co-teachers, the progress of each of their students, and plans for future lessons. By meeting once or twice a week, the teachers would be able to better overcome their interpersonal conflicts and therefore help their students better. They could also attend lectures, conferences, and workshops regularly to enhance their abilities as co-teachers.
4. Audrey has several options when it comes to resolving the co-teaching problems she has encountered. Effective interpersonal strategies are essential: Audrey needs to realize that along with her seniority she should also listen to the needs and concerns of Betty, who as a younger teacher might be more up-to-date on the latest trends and methods. Therefore, the two must meet after-hours to discuss their concerns and strategies. Both should be prepared to yield and compromise. When they work together, the lesson plan will combine the best of both worlds: the seasoned teacher who has seen it all and the freshness of the newer teacher.
There are many books and articles that Audrey can use as guides for effective interpersonal communication. Also, she can keep abreast of co-teaching strategies by consulting with other teachers, by attending seminars, and by reading material in educational journals. Sometimes, however, the simplest solution is communication: discussing her needs and concerns with Betty in a non-threatening environment and remaining aware of her feelings and thoughts as to how to best run the classroom.
Audrey and Betty need to create time for planning. It would be useful for them to set aside time everyday for a minimum of forty-five minutes. Scheduled time that is consistent is very important when collaborating. Planning is crucial for Audrey and Betty. During their planning time, they should be planning a theme unit, setting goals and creating a list that includes topics such as: my list, your list, and our list. This will encourage them to stay organized and aware of their responsibilities. To help aid in successful time management, Audrey and Betty should use the B.A.S.E. model. The process includes coming up with the main ideas that teachers want to teach, narrowing it down to the most challenging idea for students, brainstorming strategies and supports to meets the needs of all students, and evaluating the team?s ideas and teaching methods.
To accommodate Betty?s needs some co- teaching options should be addressed. Betty may not feel welcome in Audrey?s class because she feels like an assistant. Lack of feeling comfortable in a classroom could have lead to some of the problems Audrey faces. In order to help Betty feel welcome, as a team they need to explore options of co-teaching. As of now, Betty is just a tutor that helps students while Audrey teaches. Betty is a teacher like Audrey; she needs to be acknowledged as one as well. Some co- teaching options are: One teaching/ one assisting, station teaching , parallel teaching , alternative teaching, and team- teaching. She is currently using the option one teaching/ one assisting. Audrey and Betty should come up with a option that fits both of their needs. Alternative teaching seems to be the best fit for them. Betty seems to be very focused on ?her? students. This would be a way for Betty to have a small section of students that need extra help. She will then still feel like a teacher if she used this model. Another alternative they could use is to implement many different co-teaching options throughout the week. For instance: Monday would be parallel teaching, Tuesday will use team teaching, Wednesday they will use alternative teaching for students who have not grasped the ideas that were taught, and Thursday they could use one teacher/ one assistant.