Practicing what we preach: Co-teaching in higher education Presentation by Dr. Norma Blecker Dr. Kimberly Lebak The Richard Stockton College of NJ firstname.lastname@example.org
Alternate Route to Teacher Certification • In addition to its traditional teacher education programs, the Richard Stockton College of NJ (RSC) offers 3 alternate route programs • General Education Certification programs: • RSC faculty provides the 200 hour instructional training as part of the NJDOE program 34 week mentoring program • Summer-to-Summer: 12 graduate credit program
Summer-to-Summer Provisional Teacher Certification Program • Similar to the Pathways to Teaching Program, the program provides the opportunity to begin a teacher certification program prior to beginning a teaching position. • Completion of the program requires being employed in a teaching position for a full year. • 12 graduate credits completed by be used towards the 36 credit Master of Arts in Education (MAED) program offered by the college.
Special Education Alternate Route3rd route offered by RSC • Open to teachers holding certification in general education but employed in special education without appropriate teaching endorsement • In order for the NJDOE to grant a provisional license to teach special education without being fully certificated, teacher must be enrolled in this or a similar special education certification program.
Preparing to Meet the Needs of All Students • alternate route provisional teachers must enroll in a master’s level course designed to prepare classroom teachers for teaching in an inclusive setting. • Differentiated Instructional Techniques
The program described in this paper was designed to study the role graduate studies can play in supporting the preparation of both general education and special education teachers in the development and maintaining of collaborative environments in inclusive settings.
Research Question • Can co-teaching in a graduate level course better prepare for in-service teachers for co-teaching in an inclusive setting?
Modeling Desired Teaching Behavior • In this study, a general education professor and special education professor co-taught two groups of practicing teachers for fifteen weeks in a Differentiated Instruction course.
Study Participants • Participating teachers in the study included 14 practicing K-12th grade general education teachers and 18 special education teachers. • Ten of those enrolled in the special education track were involved in the alternate route to special education certification. • Four worked as para-professionals with students having special needs • 31 of the 32 teachers worked with students requiring exceptional services.
Opportunities were provided for practicing teachers to work in collaborative groups and in separate general education groups and special education groups. The researchers examined differences in attitudes and preparation of collaborative teaching over the semester.
Methodology • Focus groups • Pre/Post Survey
Tensions arise… • Throughout the focus groups tensions regarding a lack of understanding of the roles of special education and general education teachers, a lack of control over classroom operations, and instructional decision confusion for special education students emerged as barriers for successful co-teaching in the schools of the in-service teachers participating in the graduate studies.
Special Education Teacher (A.S): During my first year of teaching, I had general education teachers send my students back. I make suggestions for modifications and the general education teacher says they don’t want to make the modifications, that it is too time consuming. A lot of the general education teachers just don’t want to be bothered. I am not saying all of them but some of them.
General Education Teacher (L.S.): I think one of the sources of animosity comes from. I have the 118 kids! When it comes time for the grades I have to do those 118 kids they have 12. They get paid the same as me. I have to do all the planning, I send her plans she just copies her plans into her plan book. For the labs I do all the prep work and she just shows up. I am feeling like I am doing all the grunt work, I am making the same money and they are going off the gym at 3:00. That is where the animosity comes in. A lot of the special education teachers are coaches, they don’t have paperwork do, especially resource room teachers.
General Education Teacher (B.A.): As a Social Studies teacher I am running in and out of the special education classroom all day long. They are as busy I am. • General Education Teacher (D.C.): No, they are not, they are walking around with their coffee. • Special Education Teacher (K.A.): I think that is why it is hard to generate any mutual respect when I don’t know what you are doing and you don’t know what I am doing. • General Education Teacher (B.A.): I think that is the problem we don’t know each others true defined roles.
Pre/Post Survey Results • Surveyed students’ understandings of: • Characteristics of students with exceptionalities • Responsibilities of personnel involved in inclusive environments • Planning for differentiation • Assessment in a differentiated environment • Making time for planning and collaboration
Significant difference on pre/post survey on students’ preparedness to differentiate curriculum • Further significance noted in student learning of specific strategies for differentiation • These include: • Using interest inventories • Writing essential questions • Collaborative instruction • Specific strategies including RAFTs. Jigsaws, curriculum compacting
Recommendations by Students • Inclusion settings should be voluntary and teachers should choose whether they work together. • Have a common planning time. • Teachers should alternate lesson instruction daily. • Plan differentiated lessons: Incorporate strategies learned including tiered lessons, compacting, interest inventories
Points for Future Discussion • Address the challenges of collaborative relationships by implementing possible solutions suggested • Explore increased collaboration in higher education – increase sample size