Accessing general education: Creating a pathway for special education students to access the general education curriculum through co-teaching
Piazza, Kate E.
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Schools across the country are implementing co-teaching as a best practice that involves a general education and a special education teacher working in conjunction in a general education classroom. Co-teaching provides support in the classroom for general education and special education students by combining the expertise of teachers to engage in specialized differentiated instruction. A significant amount of research is available on the topic of co-teaching; however, detailed insight into what elementary co-teachers identify as beneficial or problematic within the classroom is still in its inception. This study examines the roles of co-teachers, how these roles reflect best practices in co-teaching, the impact of these roles on professional relationships in co-teaching, planning, instructional deliveries, delivery of IEP mandated accommodations and modifications, and administrative supports. This study advances research by providing insight of co-teaching components in a real life fourth grade mathematics and fifth grade reading co-teaching classroom. To provide this understanding, the researcher used data collected through interviews, a rating scale, and a classroom observation from a South Texas elementary school case study. Themes evolved from each research question. First, the current roles of teachers that co-taught emerged the following themes: knowledge of co-teaching, collaboration/sharing responsibilities, co-teaching models, general education teacher as main facilitator, special education teacher, and special education students. Second, the themes in how these roles reflect best practices for co-teaching are co-teaching models, communication, collaboration, the general education teacher as main facilitator, and grouping. Third, roles in co-teaching impacted partnerships with three themes emerging: professional relationships, learn from one another, and planning. Fourth, the planning in an elementary co-teaching classroom found the themes of planning together, morning planning, general education teacher plans, planning on the “fly”, and accommodations. Fifth, this study found the themes of classroom interaction, time allotted for students, pacing, and accommodations/modifications developed when analyzing if co-teaching instruction changed in a co-teaching classroom. Sixth, special education teacher and effective strategies vs. accommodations/modifications were two themes found to impact the teachers’ delivery of IEP mandated accommodations/modifications. Lastly, analysis of administrative supports in co-teaching emerged the following themes: knowledge of co-teaching, scheduling, co-teaching changing, planning, and supportive. From this study and these themes the results, implications, and ideas for future research are discussed.