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From Compromise to Collaboration!. How Educational Leaders can Design and Support Collaborative Teaching Teams. Defining Collaborative Teaching.

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from compromise to collaboration
From Compromise to Collaboration!

How Educational Leaders can Design and Support Collaborative Teaching Teams

defining collaborative teaching
Defining Collaborative Teaching

The collaboration between general and special education teachers for all of the teaching responsibilities for all of the students assigned to a classroom.

rationale for using collaborative teaching teams
Rationale for Using Collaborative Teaching Teams

Response to meeting LRE requirements of the federal special education law.

Limited available research on the subject indicates that when collaborative teaching teams are provided with the appropriate level of supports and services, both general and special education students’achievement and attitudes improve.

educational leader s role
Educational Leader’s Role
  • Collaborative teaching teams do not succeed – blame assigned to individual teachers.
  • Teachers’ effort, knowledge, and skills are critical, but this assignment of blame is often misplaced.
  • Most times when the model doesn’t work, there are significant barriers making it difficult, if not impossible for the team to perform effectively.
educational leader s role continued
Educational Leader’s Role (continued)
  • The leader must create a supportive school context and performance conditions while leaving ample room for teams to develop their own unique styles and strategies.
five stages
Five Stages
  • Preparing
  • Launching
  • Sustaining
  • Evaluating
  • Refining
stage 1 preparing
Stage 1 - Preparing
  • Define tasks
  • Select staff
  • Compose teams
  • Schedule common planning time
  • Select a neutral room location
  • Budget for surprises
  • Create realistic classroom rosters
key point 1
Key Point #1

Make the purpose challenging, clear, and consequential.

  • Specify outcomes
  • Avoid specifying details of process
  • Appropriate challenge level - differentiate

for different stages of development

key point 2
Key Point #2
  • Select teachers for collaborative teaching teams that have basic levels of interpersonal skills, task-specific knowledge, and a high degree of personal teaching efficacy.
  • Task-specific knowledge includes mastery of differentiated instructional/assessment practices and collaborative learning models.
  • Personal teaching efficacy is a sense of personal responsibility for meeting the needs of all students.
bonus point 1
Bonus Point #1
  • Hire teachers with the potential to be effective collaborators.
  • Structure interview process to unveil applicant’s potential for collaborative teaching
      • Appropriate questions
      • Interviewers knowledgeable about collaborative teaching.
sample interview questions
Sample Interview Questions
  • What are some experiences you have had working in a collaborative teaching situation?
  • What are some positive and negative experiences you have had working in a team taught setting?
  • How have you handled academic diversity in your teaching experiences?
  • What types of instructional strategies have you used to address student students’ varied approaches to learning?
  • What do you see as the roles and responsibilities of inclusion teaching team members?

What other questions might you ask potential candidates for teaching positions in order to determine their potential to teach collaboratively?

key point 3
Key Point #3

Compose teams so they are moderately diverse -balance between similarity and difference.

bonus point 2
Bonus Point #2

When your collaborative teaching teams reach the point of functioning effectively, keep them intact.

Stable team membership:

  • Focus on task instead of process
  • Knowledge of team member’s talents/skills
  • Shared commitment
key point 4
Key Point #4

Develop schedules for teams that effectively use your personnel resources.

Select models based upon student needs and personnel available.

schedule options
Schedule Options
  • Spec. Ed. Teacher splits time between 2 classes in one or more periods of the day, based on activities conducted and individual needs of students.
  • Spec. Ed. Teacher co-teaches different classes on different days.
  • Spec. Ed. Teacher serves as a resource for a team of teachers who identify and schedule essential opportunities on a weekly basis.
  • Team of assistants assigned to a Spec. Ed. Teacher. Assistants assigned by teacher based on student needs and assistants’ competencies.
key point 4 continued
Key Point #4 (continued)

Provide common planning time.

Be creative about arranging for common planning time.

creative strategies
Creative Strategies
  • Periodic early release days
  • Faculty meetings/staff development days
  • Rotating/permanent substitutes
  • Combining classes
  • Assemblies and field trips
  • Compensation

What other creative strategies have you (or could you) use to create common planning time for teaching teams?

key point 5
Key Point #5

When starting a new team, move the teachers into a new classroom that they set up together.

Anything identifying the classroom should include both teacher’s names.

key point 6
Key Point #6

Anticipate that teaching teams will need some unexpected equipment and supplies.

key point 7
Key Point #7

Create classroom rosters that are heterogeneous and realistic based on student’s needs.

  • Consider severity and nature of student’s disability.
  • Avoid placing all student’s that could use extra assistance but don’t qualify in collaboratively taught classrooms.
  • Training
  • Establishing Boundaries
key point 8
Key Point #8

Provide team-based training prior to working with students. Content of this training must facilitate the teaching teams having a successful beginning.

example training topics
Example Training Topics
  • Getting acquainted
  • Defining team teaching and its benefits
  • Team parameters and setting mutual goals
  • Developing rules, routines and responsibilities
  • Models of collaborative teaching and planning
  • Available resources
  • Collaborative teaching as a developmental process

What additional topics might you include as part of a collaborative teaching workshop?

key point 9
Key Point #9

Establish and communicate expectations about the boundaries for team membership and the flow of information between team members and others working with the students.

key point 9 continued
Key Point #9 (continued)
  • Within parameters of the IEP and school/district rules, the team must have the authority to select and manage their performance strategies.
  • Protocols for sharing information between service providers and collaborative teaching team members must be established and understood.
  • Reflecting, Problem-Solving and Celebrating.
  • Encouraging the Heart
  • Practice what you Preach!
  • Diagnose and Intervene Appropriately
key point 10
Key Point #10

Structured opportunities for collaborative teaching teams to celebrate, reflect, and problem-solve.

  • Refreshments
  • Time other than end of school day
  • Release time or in place of another responsibility
key point 11
Key Point # 11

Conduct walk-through observations focused on the positive aspects of the co-teaching situation.

process for walk through observations
Process for Walk-Through Observations
  • Visit collaboratively taught classroom
  • Focus on a concrete, specific aspect of the collaboratively taught situation
  • Give honest, positive feedback either orally or in writing about what was observed
key point 12
Key Point #12

Through language and interactions, educational leader must create and sustain a culture which promotes acceptance of individual differences while emphasizing the things those with disabilities can do.

key point 12 continued
Key Point #12 (continued)
  • Focus on individual not disability.
  • Model determination and persistence.
  • Prompt and firm response to “put-downs.”
  • Proactively deal with teacher and student misconceptions about fairness.
  • Demonstrate ownership for all students.
  • Avoid using nicknames to refer to collaboratively taught classrooms.
  • Do not allow teachers to choose to teach collaboratively.
  • Do not allow parents to choose whether or not to have students in collaboratively taught classrooms.

What other behaviors can (or do) educational leaders take to create and sustain a school culture that supports collaborative teaching?

key point 13
Key Point #13

When collaborative teaching teams are experiencing difficulties, the leader must use observation and discussion to systematically diagnose the problem and target interventions.

key point 13 continued
Key Point #13 (continued)

Is the problem primarily related to:

  • Effort?
  • Knowledge and skills?
  • Performance strategies?
  • Material resources?

Once the source of the problem is identified, an appropriate intervention can be designed.

  • Assess/evaluate the correct things.
  • Balance between formative and summative methods.
  • Use appropriate classroom observation/evaluation tools
key point 14
Key Point #14

When assessing and evaluating the results achieved by teams, the leader must consider social and personal criteria in addition to the outputs produced.

critical questions
Critical Questions
  • Does the productive output of the team meet or exceed the performance standards established by school and district leadership?
  • Did the social processes used maintain or enhance the capacity of co-teachers to work together on subsequent team tasks?
  • Does the collaborative teaching team experience satisfy more than it frustrates the personal needs of team members?
key point 15
Key Point #15

When conducting an evaluation, the educational leader should collect, analyze, and share both formative and summative data.

  • Data collection and organization
  • Data analysis and strategic planning
key point 16
Key Point #16

Traditional observation tools often do not work for collaborative teaching situations.

key point 16 continued
Key Point #16 (continued)

When evaluating a collaboratively taught lesson:

  • use a tool that focuses on the key instructional components of this model.
  • Make sure the tool is designed to provide meaningful feedback likely to result in instructional improvement.
  • Continuous Improvement
key point 17
Key Point #17

Collaborative data analysis and action planning often reveal the need for additional outside expertise or staff training. The leader is responsible for securing these resources for collaborative teaching teams.

final thoughts
Final Thoughts
  • Can you commit yourself to enthusiastically communicating a vision of collaborative teaching teams? Will you do this frequently?
  • Are you willing to persist when others lose faith and question the wisdom of the model?
the bottom line
The Bottom Line

If you can combine courage, conviction, and will with the principles articulated in this workshop, you will likely leap the abyss of failure plaguing special education. If not, no amount of resources will be enough for success to be achieved.