Inclusion Classrooms Must Be Learner-Centered

2-teachers-nobordr-210Take a second to picture your ideal inclusion classroom. What do you see? What do you hear? What are the teachers doing? What are the students doing? How are the desks arranged? Most importantly—how do you feel and why?

Here’s my ideal vision:

Desks are arranged in groups of four to five. Students are huddled in as they dig deep to learn and engage in meaningful discussions. There is a balance between teachers and students listening and speaking that creates lively discussions.

The teachers are weaving in and out of the groups, taking the time to chat and spark deeper thinking—teachers are noticing which students are grasping the content, and which students need more support. Teachers are keeping an open mind to learn many ideas from their students.

All learners in the room are sparked to have their thinking pushed along. It’s noisy. It’s active. It’s energizing. It’s an environment where students’ thinking is valued. Students learn to take an active role in the learning process, constructing meaning that leads to future learning.

Here’s what I believe is a seriously flawed vision:

Desks are in rows as if they are glued to the floor. Students are sitting at their desks—passively waiting for class to begin (and end). Some students are slouching, some staring off into space without blinking, many are daydreaming (even though they may appear to be listening). The teacher is standing up in the front of the room—talking, talking, talking. Until, of course, the teacher calls on a student to speak. No sparks. It’s mind numbing. It’s an environment where students are taught to be passive learners—just vessels with ears.

We’ve all seen these classrooms

The flawed vision, we know, goes back for decades—and it’s an absolute tragedy to consider that it is still happening in too many classrooms. It perpetuates the idea that learning and work in general is drudgery. Students use their energy to figure out how to avoid the classroom spotlight. If they understand what the teacher is saying and feel some excitement, they also feel stress at not being invited to really engage with the ideas and content.

They learn to avoid learning because it can be so exhausting to try to morph one’s thinking to blend with the teacher’s view. Engagement is not much more than riding a see-saw, up and down, back and forth. Students become skilled at conjuring up ways to avoid the tasks, or do just enough to get by. Or they totally tune out and fail.

Sadly, this flawed vision is still happening in schools today. And even worse—it’s happening in inclusion classrooms.

Co-teachers know it is a nightmare to be in a classroom where one teacher prefers to be the sage on stage, while the students sit quietly in rows. Often times, the other co-teacher is forced to just walk around the room—trying to be a part of the learning process—but secretly cringing and gasping for air. Or the co-teacher who longs to really engage with the kids gives up and simply withdraws into the abyss of a learning environment that dates back decades, if not centuries.

We can’t just let ourselves sink into the abyss, though. The kids deserve better.

So what can co-teachers DO?

  1. Keep communication open—both of the teachers in the room must continue to share their views and then be willing to push one another outside of their comfort zones.
  2. Create a happier, more learner-centered environment through the balance and integration of various co-teaching models.
  3. Children playing in front of the school

    Watch some quick videos like this one to remind yourself that learning in today’s classrooms should match our present time if we expect our students to be ready for their future.

  4. Check out this outline  that can help create a rich learning environment for any grade and any content area.
  5. Research some strategies that support learner centered learning—then discuss with your co-teacher. Choose one—and do it! Here’s a start to your research.
  6. Begin with strategies like “student-centered discussion.” It’s a powerful learning process—and one of my favorites. See it in action by viewing this Teacher Channel video as Sarah Wessling Brown shows how it’s done. (In addition to many powerful points, notice—the desks are not in rows!).
  7. Find an interesting article, like this one by Paul Bogdan at Edutopia, and share ideas with your co-teacher. What aspects can you adapt, adopt, and apply to your classroom?
  8. Get savvy with understanding the role executive functioning serves in the learning process. Support students in inclusion classrooms to make meaningful decisions before, during, and after learning experiences.

Check out this link to get some background. And visit Universal Design for Learning to get some ideas for applying executive functioning supports in your inclusion classrooms.

es-udl-book-cvrThe list can go on and on… endless resources are out there just waiting for us to seize and begin to shake our students’ worlds. Do your share to support learner centered inclusion classrooms—start with strengthening your own views and beliefs—then begin to nudge your co-teacher(s). Find the edge of your  traditional colleague’s comfort zone—then push on it at the appropriate pace. The idea is to just keep moving forward. And then come back and tell us how it’s going…

A learner-centered classroom is the only way we will provide our students with the mindset, stamina, and skills they need for the classroom and jobs to come. And it makes the present time so invigorating! What do you think?

Elizabeth Stein

Elizabeth Stein has more than 20 years teaching experience spanning grades K-8, specializing in universal design for learning and special education. She’s currently a special education/UDL instructional coach and new-teacher mentor in Long Island NY’s Smithtown Central School District. Elizabeth is National Board Certified in Literacy, and a contributor to Education Week and other publications. Her books include Comprehension Lessons for RTI (Grades 3-5) (Scholastic, 2013), Elevating Co-Teaching Through UDL (CAST, 2016) and Two Teachers in the Room: Strategies for Co-Teaching Success (Routledge, 2017). Follow her on Twitter @elizabethlstein and #coteachat

23 Responses

  1. I completely agree with your post! It came at the perfect moment. I look forward to checking out all the interesting links that you provide. As a push-in ESL teacher, it isn’t always easy to take on this leadership role but I think it’s critical if we are truly about student learning.

    • Elizabeth Stein says:

      Thanks for your comment, Elisa. It’s so important to come together, so we can feel that sense of community to make positive changes happen. Thank you for that! Specific positive changes will happen when we strategically put forth the effort to make decisions that knock down walls–one section at a time. Would love to hear more about some ideas you are thinking about as you take on this leadership role.
      All the best!

  2. Pete Post says:

    Hello Elizabeth,
    I’m back and feel like I am taking an opportunity to co-teach with you as I ask my masters level students at Trinity Christian College to reply to your wonderful suggestions. It occurs to me that the one of the biggest proponents of the “sage on stage” model is the college classroom – but I am hoping that this will also change. My favorite class to teach is one in which I bring my students onto the campus of Elim Christian School and for the last 20 minutes of each class they get a real, live student with special needs to tutor. For the first part of the course the Elim teachers have been sending along materials for the tutors but after our spring break my Trinity students get to supply the activity experiencing the joys (and challenges) of our wonderful career.
    Thanks for sharing and I look forward to the contributions my students send your way;
    Dr. Pete Post

    • Elizabeth Stein says:

      Hello, Dr. Pete Post–it’s great to reconnect! I, too, am looking forward to your students’ contributions. It is always great to hear what you and your students are up to–I am looking forward to learning together!

  3. Jenny H says:

    Hello Elizabeth,
    I am part of Dr. Post’s graduate course SPED 525. I enjoyed reading this post. I can picture both types of classrooms very well as you describe them above. I can actually think of examples from the school I teach in that fit both models. The classroom should be learner-cerntered. Teachers should have the hope that students will get excited about the material they are learning and expand on it by adding their own ideas! Students that grab ahold of their learning begin to find a passion for knowledge, which hopfully will lead to self-discovery of their gifts and talents. This is why we want to teach, right? To help young people develope their voice, so as they mature in their learning and education they can go out into the world and make a difference in an enlighting and positive way.

    I decided to visit the video you posted from the teaching channel. I really liked the lesson by Sarah Wessling Brown. I teach art classes prek-5th grade and most often our class discussion is demonstration based because we make art and so I show the students what to do and they spend class time creating. However, a few weeks ago I decided to have my 3-5 grade classes read and analyze a few poems by Langston Hughes. It went really well and I LOVED hearing the ideas that the students came up with for different meanings hidden within Hughes poetry. After discussing the poetry I had students put meaning to their ideas by drawing pictures. I really enjoyed combining the written word with images. I was inspired by this video to try continue to incorporate more poetry art into my art classes!
    Thank you,
    Jenny H

    • Elizabeth Stein says:

      Hi, Jenny, I am so happy to hear that you were able to visualize specific classrooms as you read this post. The connections you make can serve as a guide as you as you make decisions about your teaching behaviors.

      Thanks for sharing an example about one of your lessons–I love how you integrated visual images with written and oral expression.
      As you know, student-led discussions provide such meaningful learning experiences for everyone. I always learn so much from my students! I love how you are providing multiple means of expression to allow your students to share their ideas through discussion and through sketching their thinking. The best part is always when they share their expressions–it’s an incredible learning cycle! All the best to you and those lucky students of yours!

  4. Erin T says:

    This a great blog, Elizabeth, very informative. I am a student in Dr. Post’s graduate class and I was pretty excited about our discussion topic this week, because I will be doing my research and thesis paper on the topic of co-teaching.
    I think it is funny that as a teacher when you read an article like this one, it always makes you stop and wonder if I’d doing it right. I took a look at the list of various co teaching models and I found that I have used “station teaching” pretty often in my time as a fourth grade teacher. This a model I have used in reading class.
    I think my success with this co-teaching model has varied according to which teacher or what type of teacher I was working with. A true co-teacher should bring something to the table with them and share the burden of the classroom. Including the planning, implementation, and assessment. It has been my experience too many times as the classroom teacher that those to want to co-teach simply want to come in and walk around to help.
    When done correctly I am sure it can be a great experience for the teachers and the students in the classroom. We all have things we are good at and not so good at, so if a co-teacher can pick up the slack where I may be lacking it can only benefit the students in the long run. You can never have too much help in a classroom or too many points of view, it is just a matter of blending them together and I am eager to see the different ways people are able to this successfully.

  5. John Gottfried says:

    Elizabeth,

    I am a graduate student of Dr. Post and I enjoyed getting your opinion on how to manage co-teaching. I have a limited experience co-teaching and it was not positive. It was interesting reading the 8 suggestions on how to make co-teaching a more positive experience. In the future, when I co-teach I will definitely use those suggestions.

    When reading on the flawed classroom designed, it was shocking when I realized that the majority of the classrooms in my school are that way. Students are sitting staring into space while a teacher is talking to a room a students not paying attention. Could it be that most teachers are comfortable with this system of learning because this is how we were taught?

    John

  6. Kristy D says:

    Hello Elizabeth,
    I’m also part of Dr. Post’s SPED 525 course and I enjoyed your post. The ideas you’ve shared are great! The first connection that I made to your post is that your ideal vision for an inclusive classroom is similar to my vision for even a general education classroom. I teach second grade and my students love the opportunity to sit and work in groups, partner activities and they love to participate in any discussions. I teach in a building with co-taught classrooms and as I was reading your ideal vision for a co-taught classroom described some aspects of classrooms I’ve witnessed. I’ve also witnessed co-taught classrooms that don’t seem quite as cohesive. Perhaps the teachers have different ideas and visions for their co-taught classroom and therefore it can be a challenge. I think if teachers really thought about the classroom and ways to make it student centered it may come together more easily regardless of personalities or teaching styles. I thought your ideas about what teachers can do are great for teachers so that they can focus their energy on the classroom being student centered.
    I thought the article link to Paul Bogan’s strategies for math and other subjects was very useful. The one strategy that he named in the article was the idea of writing the lesson plan for the students. It guides them through the lesson and they can work collaboratively. It frees up the teacher to roam about the classroom as a resource. I thought that was a genius idea for older children. His other ideas were great as well. Thanks for sharing this.

  7. Melissa H says:

    I loved this post and all the amazing resources about co-teaching that you have included. I currently work as a paraeducator at a special needs school. In our untraditional classroom, we have a teacher, assistant teacher, and five paraeducators. Unfortunately, the co-teaching model that is currently being exhibited in our room is more of the “seriously flawed vision.” The lead teacher usually has our assistant teacher grading papers and making materials, only jumping in to teach when she is absent or busy with a particular student.
    As I work towards my Masters in Special Education and learn more and more about the co-teaching method, I couldn’t imagine wasting such a valuable resource as having another teacher in the room, with all their experience and knowledge. I also, however, understand that the co-teacher must also share this willingness to jump in a take on half of the responsibilities of the classroom.
    Thank you for posting all the resources you included in your post. After reading through the various co-teaching models and aspects of a learner-centered classroom, I cannot wait to implement these ideas into my own future classroom.

    • Elizabeth Stein says:

      Thank you Dr. Post and students! Great insights are sparked by all of your thoughtful responses. Here are just a few of my favorite lines…

      Erin, you said:
      When done correctly I am sure it can be a great experience for the teachers and the students in the classroom. We all have things we are good at and not so good at, so if a co-teacher can pick up the slack where I may be lacking it can only benefit the students in the long run.

      You are spot on! Each co-teacher brings a unique sense of self, style, and talent—they much collaborate and communicate to see how they can balance and utilize each other’s strengths.

      John, you said:
      Could it be that most teachers are comfortable with this system of learning because this is how we were taught?

      I agree, it makes sense that some teachers get stuck within a comfort zone of familiarity that may sadly cause some mind-numbing learning experiences for students. Stepping out of one’s comfort zone is the only way to learn and grow!

      Kristy, you said:
      Perhaps the teachers have different ideas and visions for their co-taught classroom and therefore it can be a challenge. I think if teachers really thought about the classroom and ways to make it student centered it may come together more easily regardless of personalities or teaching styles.

      I love this because you tap into the intense necessity for co-teachers to share a vision—and then make a plan with realistic action steps toward that vision. Communication is key!

      Melissa, you said:
      I couldn’t imagine wasting such a valuable resource as having another teacher in the room, with all their experience and knowledge. I also, however, understand that the co-teacher must also share this willingness to jump in a take on half of the responsibilities of the classroom.

      I agree! There is no sense wasting valuable resources! Teachers must make a vow to be willing to break down barriers—do what they can to jump in—take a leap—just do it!

      To all: Thanks for the inspiration! All the best!

  8. Jennifer Zelek Ramirez says:

    Hello Elizabeth.

    I am a student in Dr. Post’s graduate course. Reading your article reminded me of my early days as a teacher in which my lesson plans were chock-full of interactive lessons that promoted a learner-centered classroom. However, over the years I have noticed a slight decline in the assortment of activities that I integrate within my daily lessons. As a graduate student in a Special Education program, it is imperative that I remember the importance of a learner-centered environment and especially how co-teaching should encourage a flourish in student learning and not a decline. Like they say two minds are better than one.

    I enjoyed reading your article and can sadly recall times in which I have seen my students slouched in their chairs bored with a daily English grammar lesson. Since I returned back to graduate school, I have made a conscious effort to become the “facilitator” of my classroom and not merely the “lecturer.”

    I chose to check out the strategies that promote learner-centered classrooms. I was surprised to realize that a novel unit on The Hunger Games that I recently completed with my sixth grade class included many of these strategies. I encouraged cooperative learning within “their districts” using daily inquiries and problem-based questions. Now if I can only transfer these strategies within my English classes. I am eager to try out many of the student-produced responses found on the “Ideas for products” chart. Perhaps having my students showcase the grammar rules with a creative finished product will increase their levels of participation.

    Thank you for your suggestions and I look forward to examining the other various links that you have listed.

    Jen Z.

  9. Kelly Burney says:

    Hi Elizabeth,
    I am another student from Dr. Post’s class. I really enjoyed your post because within my own 5th grade teaching team I have seen many aspects of both of the scenarios you describe. I absolutely believe in the power of student-centered teaching and the benefits of well designed co-teaching.
    In my third year of teaching as a general education teacher, I was chosen to be the inclusion teacher. The special education teacher and I were a great match, balancing each other strengths and weaknesses, she was fantastic “on-the-spot” and I am a great planner/organizer. We taught a unit about natural resources and had a great experience challenging kids to develop their opinions on drilling for oil in the ANWR. The unit was interdisciplinary, as we read articles that contained facts and opinions and students wrote persuasive letters to express their own conclusions at the end of the unit. Students were able to investigate the effects of oil spills through hands on activities and investigate the many needs and uses for oil in our every day lives. In my opinion, what made this particular experience so great for all of us involved, was the fact the special education teacher and I worked so well together. The links you provide here are great. I especially like all of the wonderful ideas for lesson planning found in #5 on your list. Incorporating activities like this in lessons will make any classroom more engaging. However, I think there is also something to be said for finding the “sweet spot” by working with someone who challenges you (as you mention) but also complements you. When that happens, the potential for great teaching is far more than doubled. I wonder what teachers and administrators can do to work together to help more teachers find that teaching partner that is a good fit for them, instead of just the person from down the hall that has been assigned to their room and students?

  10. Hi Elizabeth,
    I also, am a student from Dr. Post’s class. I enjoyed reading what you had to say and I couldn’t agree with you more. From personal experience, being fresh out of school and having student taught last fall, I was looked at like a lunatic when I wanted to move the students desks around and try some new activities. It really is such a shame how we as educators become so comfortable in our routines and habits that we forget to, or sometimes are just too lazy to, change things up for our students. Yet aren’t we just the same? If we were to go to a seminar or conference (which we all have had to reluctantly sit through) and the speaker lectured in a monotone voice all day without any activities or movement planned, wouldn’t that bother us? So why is it that we feel so comfortable doing the same to our students?

    I think that new teachers who are just out of school and are excited about having a job and really ready to put their ideas to the test are some of the best examples (in most cases) of the effort that needs to be put into making things fun and different for our students. As you mentioned before, as a student, you feel almost scared to talk when you are so used to listening all day or hearing a teacher lecture for the entire class period. We need to strive to help our student become less afraid to talk, even if they are wrong, and more willing to discuss with each other. When we all get out into the “real world” we need to be able to voice our opinions and stand up for the greater good, so we should be instilling these skills in our students from square one. We should be strengthening their voice and giving them the knowledge and skills to be proud of their education and confident in what they know.

    While reading the article, I put myself in the spot of a co-teacher who was too afraid to stand up to the “boring” teacher and ask for changes. I know that it can be a frightening conversation to initiate, but we owe it to our students to fight for their right to a “fun” and thrilling education. It will only help them appreciate their education more and hopefully take a greater deal of ownership in their learning.

    • Elizabeth Stein says:

      Jennifer, I am glad that you were reminded of some of your positive teaching experiences. Your passion to make “a conscious effort to become the “facilitator” of my classroom and not merely the “lecturer” will definitely create expert learners who will be lucky to be in your class!

      Kelly, thanks for sharing your connections. Your question here is a good one:

      “I wonder what teachers and administrators can do to work together to help more teachers find that teaching partner that is a good fit for them, instead of just the person from down the hall that has been assigned to their room and students?”

      I think it’s a matter of putting a framework in place where co-teachers have ongoing support, so regardless of who they are paired with—they have the resources to make it work. I have found that it is not feasible to just recruit those willing, perfect fits. Those unwilling, down the hall folks must rise to the challenge.

      Lauren, you spark a real passion for me here when you say:

      “We need to strive to help our student become less afraid to talk, even if they are wrong, and more willing to discuss with each other. When we all get out into the “real world” we need to be able to voice our opinions and stand up for the greater good, so we should be instilling these skills in our students from square one. We should be strengthening their voice and giving them the knowledge and skills to be proud of their education and confident in what they know.”

      Guiding students to hear, trust and raise their voices is an everyday goal for me. They need to be in tune with their opinions, so they can evaluate facts and become a confident learner—amongst other things! Thanks for adding your voice here!

      Good luck to all—All the best!

  11. Meghan Pipal says:

    Elizabeth,

    I really enjoyed reading this blog post! As a recent graduate, the only experience I have had with teaching was during my student teaching experience. I feel like student teaching is difficult for almost anyone because, while you have “control” of a classroom, you still have to follow your cooperating teacher’s philosophy and style of teaching. I remember cringing every time I had to teach a science or social studies lesson by simply reading the chapter with the students and having them answer the questions at the end. Your ideal classroom vision couldn’t have been described better : “All learners in the room are sparked to have their thinking pushed along. It’s noisy. It’s active. It’s energizing. It’s an environment where students’ thinking is valued. Students learn to take an active role in the learning process, constructing meaning that leads to future learning.” If only every classroom were run this way, imagine what different perspectives regarding school our students would have!

    During my student teaching I was also fortunate to be able to experience co-teaching. Looking back, I wish I could have read this blog and checked out some of your resources before or while I was co-teaching. There are so many advantages to having two teachers in the classroom! But it completely depends on how both teachers approach each lesson. Honestly, the weight of the lessons were almost never evenly pulled between myself and my co-teacher, and we were both guilty of being on both ends. I think if we had taken more time to prepare the lessons, get to know one another better, and learned each other’s teaching strengths and weaknesses, we could have been much more effective when co-teaching.

    Thank you so much for this blog and all of your insight and resources! I look forward to checking out more of the links that you provided!

    -Meghan

  12. Blanca Delgado says:

    Hello Elizabeth,

    I am a student of Dr. Post. I enjoyed!!!!!!!! your blog.I am definitely going to recommend this blog to my co-workers. Thank you for the resources that you provided.

    My name is Blanca, and I am a fifth grade bilingual teacher. This is my second year teaching, but my first year co-teaching. I have two IEP students in my classroom and I have an LDR teacher come to my classroom everyday. I had a bad experience with my co-teacher. I want to do centers or co-teach and she sits in the back of the classroom looking at her phone, working on the computer, and walks in and out of the classroom. I do not know what to do?? This teachers is the principal’s favorite, she has more then 10 years of experience. I feel bad for my IEP students. I wish I was able to do more co-teaching.

    I have experienced the flawed vision in my previous job and in my current school. I think that most of the flawed models come from teacher that have 2O or 30 years of experience and refuse to change their teaching style. On the other hand. I love!!! to create and design centers for my students. I am not perfect, but I am trying my best to create great learning experiences for my students. In my opinion and observations, students learn better by participating in centers, discussion, and when they are exposed to different activities that they really enjoy. Every week, every month, and hopefully every year I will keep improving in my instruction. I will continue to use your blog and resources. Thank you!

    Blanca

  13. Dr. Pete Post says:

    Elizabeth,
    I feel as if we have actually co-taught a lesson – although I’d have to admit that you did most of the work by finding and sharing such great resources. I trust that a number of my students will continue to frequent your blog for interesting updates and wonderful strategies. Thanks again for your contribution to our master’s program at Trinity Christian College

    • Elizabeth Stein says:

      Thank you, Blanca and Meghan, for your thoughtful responses. It is so refreshing to hear your views and your aspirations!

      Dr. Post, as always, it is so wonderful to connect with you and your students. I am looking forward to future collaborations!

      Best,
      Elizabeth

  14. Keep the noise down. That’s what I thought a teacher with good classroom management skills was supposed to do. After a while, I realized that the more talking I did and the less the students did, the more detrimental it was to student learning. After giving an assessment and preparing myself to see wonderful responses, I realized that the students could not give those responses just because they heard me say it one thousand times as they sat with their hands so neatly folded.

    I changed my classroom into a place where students did the talking and I did the facilitating. I realized that when students come up with the concept, it sticks. When I spoon feed the concept, it lasts only in the brains of students with photographic memories. I believe that student-centered lessons and classrooms are the only way to teach children. I am old school and believe that children did learn through lecture before,but that is not the case now. I love to have the children discuss, write on their desks (dry erase), and compile evidence to share with other groups. I love to teach the children that they are a community of learners, and in a community we sometimes walk over to our neighbors house and ask him for sugar (or for clarification).

    One of my favorite things to do is shared inquiry. I facilitate an open ended question while students – in small groups – discuss with each other. I never give a right or wrong indication, and by the end students don’t want to stop discussing literature.

  15. Lori Stage says:

    Hi Elizabeth,

    I am a graduate student in Dr. Post’s class SPED 525. This article was enlightening with many aspects to consider when teaching in the classroom. I love the different strategies and your thoughts on Learner centered stations. This is the way 21st century classrooms need to be teaching. Students want to be engaged and have the opportunity to explore and demonstrate higher level thinking and reasoning.

    I am currently a substitute teacher so I have the opportunity to be in several different classrooms a week and see what and how the teacher is challenging their students to demonstrate and apply the knowledge they are learning everyday.

    I love partner work, group work, centers, lively discussions as well!! It is sad to say “yes” there are still teachers today that have the rows of chairs and do text book reading with little activity and participation from our students. I too feel they are old school and need to step out of their comfort zone to create an environment where everyone feels safe and comfortable. We want our students today to achieve success along with student growth and development that will carry them through each year. Each student is unique and special with so many gifts to share each and everyday with teachers, friends, and family. I am truly blessed to be in this profession and I look forward to having my own classroom soon!

    I look forward to reading more of your articles!!
    Lori Stage

  16. Selina C says:

    HI Elizabeth,

    I am a graduate student in Dr. Post’s class and we were asked to read your blog and comment. I could totally picture both classrooms in my head. I “co-taught” a few years ago. I was new to the district and the school and was told I would be co-teaching 7th grade language arts. I was excited to begin the year doing something new; i had never co-taught before. The first few weeks we were both getting used to the idea and trying out new things. We started off “taking turns” teaching. We started off this way and ended this way.

    She told me in the beginning that we would be getting to know our students and the routine and taking turns would probably be best for that. I agreed with her, but thought we would team teach or station teach as the year went on. That never happened and it was not your ideal learning environment. I always was under the impression that co-teaching is the best model, and it seems like it would be since you have two teachers in the room providing instruction to the students. However, our situation was not an ideal one.

    As the year went on, she was pulled out for numerous other “duties” and I was left alone in the room to teach all students. Teaching all the students is fine by me; as I don’t think that just the special education teacher should teach the diverse learners and vise versa. However, in this situation, the special education students were struggling without that small group support.

    I am currently a resource teacher and love my job. I do a lot of station work and the students enjoy the different tasks they have to complete. I wish that the co-teaching environment that I was in for two years had a different outcome. I feel that eventually the goal is for all students to be included and I would have liked to have more practice with that. Your vision of the “ideal” classroom is very similar to mine.

  17. Melanie says:

    Hi Elizabeth,

    I am in Dr. Post’s class at Trinity Christian College. We have been learning a lot about inclusion and co-teaching, however, I have only been teaching for 2 years, and it has been at a therapeutic day school. I think of my school as basically the opposite of an inclusion setting. Although, I have quite a variety of learning styles and learning abilities so my students do get the opportunity to learn from one another. We rarely do whole group activities because of the verbal aggression, which usually escalates into physical aggression, but we do a lot of individual and small group instruction and activities. The small group activities allow the students to not only learn from the staff, but also learn from each other. I group my students in a variety of ways. I have to take into consideration their behaviors and how much will actually be accomplished. Sometimes I group the students who are all at about the same level, but I also like to group students who are at different levels. This allows the higher-level students to assist the lower-level students, and this usually works very well for both groups of students.

    Even though I do not get the opportunity to co-teach with another teacher, I feel that I do something similar every day because I have six paraprofessionals with my eight students. I do not have my paraprofessionals stay with their one-on-one student throughout the entire school day. I feel that this has been extremely effective with my students because they need get used to working with a variety of people, not the same person every single day. With that being said, my paraprofessionals cover a lot of the instruction. I have them running centers and instructing all of the students, not just their one-on-one. Because of this, I need to collaborate with my paraprofessionals on a daily basis so that we are all on the same page. A lot of my paraprofessionals did not go to school to be educators, so I need to teach them how to teach the students. This can be difficult at times, but like you said in your blog post, we have to push one another outside of our comfort zones. This is not only applicable when I am pushing them, but I also ask that they share any ideas they have and to push me out of my comfort zone as well.

    Although I do not teach in an inclusion classroom, I firmly believe that teaching needs to be learner-centered. A lot of the information that you shared is applicable to my classroom just in a different way. Thank you for sharing all of your great ideas!

    Melanie

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.