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Collaboration with G.Ed.teachers and co-teaching issues

Submitted by an LD OnLine user on

I am dealing with scheduling issues in my school and I the only inclusion teacher in an elementary school. I have to go and co-teach with different grade level teachers. I feel sometimes due to lack of planning, I am not able to do justice with my students. Gen. ed. and SPED teachers should collaborate and plan modified activities and data driven interventions for Children with disabilities. I struggling because I do not a common planning time with all my general education teachers. Some are not effective because I don’t know what Gen. Ed. teacher has a plan for today. please help if someone dealing with the same kind of situation and have some ideas to collaborate with other teachers. Your cooperation is appreciated to resolve this critical issue in my school.

Submitted by Terry Bradford on Tue, 04/09/2013 - 9:05 PM


Our school is dealing with the same issues. There is not a common planning period with special education. That department sort of works by itself. It would be nice to have a time each day, or at least once a week to meet and share plans for the week. One of my proposals is to have a four day week. Fridays could be used for professional development, and then have teacher meetings. This would allow for teachers to have the time to meet each week. If this is not a possibility, then changing the school hours for students, or having a place online where teachers can post lessons for the week that all teachers could acess. Just some thoughts.

Submitted by Deanna on Tue, 04/09/2013 - 11:55 PM


It seems like many teachers are facing these issues. I know we are at my school. My situation is a little different as I am a music teacher and considered to be ancillary staff. I basically provide teachers with their preparation time so it seems impossible to meet with them to collaborate. I’ve been focusing on this issue in a course I am taking and some suggestions to collaborate would be to e-mail teachers, use Google Docs to share plans or assessments, or work with your administration to see if it is possible to set aside some time for general educators and special education educators to meet during professional development days. There really does seem to only be a few ways to address this issue which is a huge concern.

Submitted by M on Wed, 04/10/2013 - 1:01 AM


We are experiencing similar difficulties. It is difficult to experience successful inclusion services when the roles are not clearly defined as to what each educator is to do. There are times when one of the educators is more of an assistant than a teacher. Often times one of the teachers takes on the lead role and does all of the work while the other stays in the background. Making inclusion successful is our goal.

Submitted by roses&rubies on Wed, 04/10/2013 - 1:48 AM


I think these are great ideas, but scheduling is a big problem. I will try Google Docs. Thanks for sharing great ideas with me. Another question about Inclusion setting; do you think SLD students make desirable progress in general education classroom, or they need individualized instructions?

Submitted by Teacher1 on Wed, 04/10/2013 - 2:45 AM


We have the same issue at my school. However, our issue is not a lack of time. Our teachers just don’t work together. One idea I thought of was asking your prinicpal if you can meet with each of the grade level once a month for the purpose of planning. Maybe even getting together after school to plan. Collaboration is always a difficult thing especially when all parties involved are not willing. Keep working at it, it will get better.

Submitted by bryanfreschi on Wed, 04/10/2013 - 5:42 AM


I happen to work at a very progressive middle/high school that is lead by an incredible principal. I know that there is no easy fix for a school that is not structured to provide common prep time for its coteaching teachers, nor is it easy to fix the problem of teachers not “jiving” together. But, I can tell you that it is possible with the right type of leadership. My school was well known as being the worst in the district, on many levels. Our principal has spent lots of time on perfecting collaboration and teaching us what effective teams look like. Some schools have other priorities, but until your school makes it a top priority to work on teamwork, the change you desire may never come. If I were you, I would be having conversations with your administration. Find one teacher that you can co-teach well with and then ask to be paired with them (co-teaching period as well as common prep). I cannot see how a principal could deny you the chance when you are only wanting to make the school better for kids. Good luck!

Submitted by roses&rubies on Sun, 04/14/2013 - 6:53 PM


Bryan, That is exactly what I did, and so far there is no positive response. She fixed the problem temporarily, but there is no permanent solution.However, she promised me for the better working conditions for the next school year. Let’s cross fingers and I will keep pushing for the best of my students.

Submitted by kanani on Tue, 06/11/2013 - 1:47 AM


I feel like the main teacher (in a subject area class) is the expert and has been trained on that particular subject more extensively than myself, and has to be highly qualified to teach that subject. For example, Math. I have found that if I tell the teacher which lesson I feel comfortable with, she will let me choose, and I will only teach once or twice a week. I make sure I go early to her class, or catch her after school to make a plan for the week about what she wants me to tackle. It only takes about 10 minutes. Then research the best strategy I feel comfortable with teaching that particular lesson. (Integers, for example).

Submitted by mlw113 on Wed, 06/12/2013 - 9:06 PM


In the middle school where I teach, misaligned schedules have caused a great separation between general and special educators. Although a time to meet and collaborate would be beneficial, I think the problem goes deeper than finding a common meeting time. The special and general educators in my school have misunderstandings about what each do in their classroom, in addition to misinterpretations of our core beliefs. Setting a time to meet where the conversation is honest and respectful will be a key component. Often, our conversations are rushed and occur between classes or after school. I think open discussion among colleagues will remind us that we share a unified goal of supporting, motivating and providing effective teaching to our students.

Submitted by MJohnson on Thu, 06/13/2013 - 1:38 AM


I’m a special ed teacher in a self contained classroom. However, my students do have classes with other teachers. The only inclusive classes they have right now are PE, some carpentry classes and food prep class. Scheduling always seems to be an issue. I think a scheduled planning period for the general education teachers and myself would greatly benefit us. I do think its important for everyone to remember that we have to work in our students’ best interest.

Submitted by ymorts on Tue, 08/06/2013 - 2:20 PM


I am a SPED teacher and I am currently taking classes to receive my Masters degree. This is a problem that is brought up by my instructors frequently. I know that collaboration between G.ED teachers and SPED teachers is so important for the students, yet it not always a common practice at a lot of schools. Schools need to come up with ways to give teachers a planning time with other teachers so they are all on the same page. With inclusion and LRE being a very important part of SPED we better figure out ways to make sure everyone is on board with collaboration for these students.

Submitted by SpedTeach12 on Tue, 08/06/2013 - 4:54 PM


I have been teaching special education for the past five years and unfortunately this seems to be a re-occurring problem not just in my building, but in buildings all over. Scheduling can be the trickiest of problems, not just for the teachers, but for administration as well. I know that I have had several conversations with my administration and I do understand how hard it is on them to create a Master Schedule that works for everyone. With that being said, I do believe that it would be much easier if SPED teachers only had one G.ED teacher to co-teach with. Once you mix one SPED teacher across grade levels and contents (which I was for three out of my five years of teaching) it becomes very, very difficult to effectively collaborate and plan well with your G.ED counterpart. Sometimes meeting before/after school, or even during lunch is the only option left. I found that you really need to stretch yourself in order to effectively make sure you are prepared in each class.

A lot of people forget that inclusion is not actually a setting, it is a philosophy/ method of reaching all type of learners. Inclusion is not just placing a classified student in a general education class, which sadly many times it become just that. Once the SPED and G.ED teacher have collaborated enough, and understand the inclusion philosophy, I do believe that SLD student can make tremendous progress. I have had opportunities where this has happened to my own students. For LA and Math these students received the curriculum in a resource setting, however for Social Studies and Science, they were included in the general education setting. The exposure to the general education classroom, and the effective co-teaching and differentiation offered in the classroom allowed students to grown not only academically but socially as well. The SPED teachers in both classrooms provided individualized support through various differentiated activities that specifically focuses on students strengths. If done correctly, SPED students in the G. ED setting can grow tremendously; it just must be there LRE, otherwise they are being set up for failure.

Submitted by Laura Hise on Wed, 08/07/2013 - 4:38 AM


I am fortunate to have worked at a school where our special education teachers were assigned to a grade level. This allowed them to have time to plan together. They would meet once a week and plan and discuss students and their progress. However, this school year all of that is going to change. I would suggest the use of email. It seems that email may be the most effective method of communication. Could you possibly talk on the phone. This would provide you the opportunity to be more flexiable. Unfortunately it is tough for special educators to meet with the general education teachers when you do not have common planning time or you service multiple grades. There are many teachers who do not want to focus on school once the day is over. In this type of situation you almost have to collaborate after or before school starts. Could you talk with the teachers and maybe pick one day a week where you either come in early or stay late to plan?

Submitted by IJ Ezekwe on Thu, 08/08/2013 - 1:49 AM


I understand the issue you are having. In my school there is also a similar scheduling issue. However, this year we tried something new, the administrators setup a blog for the teachers to communicate with each other. There we post questions about how to deal with specific SPED issues or what interventions work with certain students. We also share lesson plan ideas and modifications that we have found to be successful and maybe helpful to others. What is great about the blog is that teachers can read posts and respond at a time most convenient for them, although participation is required by administration in order to ensure we are collaborating. Also everyone has access to the questions and helpful tips. I hope you find a suitable solution soon, good luck.

Submitted by creidinger on Tue, 10/08/2013 - 5:26 PM


I believe that it is very important to have a common collaboration period. I agree with you that it is very necessary to have a common time. This is the difference between a successful inclusion and an unsuccesful one. I believe that Google Docs might be helpful. I plan on developing a plan for at my school to promote collaboration by usig Google Docs.

Submitted by as on Wed, 10/09/2013 - 12:36 AM


Support from administration allowed the opportunity for me to present many aspects of special education at the beginning of the school year during professional development. The information enlightened new teachers and served as a reminder to veteran teachers of what to expect during the academic school year. Once the school began, the communication continued by sharing information using Google Drive. A Google Drive Tutorial 2013 can be found on YouTube. To keep abreast of the inclusion classroom curriculum, I am included on weekly agenda emails, I receive a weekly agenda handout, and I write down the weekly agenda posted on the wall. To address some questions or concerns, communication takes place by email, Google Talk, and/or Skype during convenient or even urgent times.

Submitted by croh on Wed, 10/09/2013 - 12:05 PM


This is my first time on this blog and I must say, what a great resource to share ideas/concerns with other professionals in the field of Special Education. My school recently made the shift from traditional classroom setting to tiered instruction and much more inclusion. I have experienced the same issue mentioned above; lack of collaborative planning time and clearly defined roles for sped and gen ed teacher. The teachers I work with usually meet after school for 10-20 minutes discussing the direction for the next couple of weeks. ie. what essential standards will be taught and focused on. From there, we make a plan on how to separate students into leveled groups and tier the instruction as needed. Some schools I’ve heard have designated planning times with these same co-workers throughout the day, however my school does not have a flexible schedule to make this happen (or at least that’s what I’ve been told). I’ve found that keeping kids first, and doing whatever it takes to meet their needs is all we can do. Certain things, we cannot control.

Submitted by jamiestephens on Wed, 12/04/2013 - 4:58 PM


I am in a very similar situation as you. I’ve heard co-teaching described as a “relationship” before. It takes two commited people working together to be successful. I co-teach in two different class rooms and in one room I have no problems at all. We make time to get together and plan the week out. I never go into the classroom blind and also take turns teaching. In the other classroom I co-teach in, I am more of a glorified aid. This general education teacher is very shy making it hard to collaborate because he doesn’t have much input. I have offered to lead certain activities before but he doesn’t say much. I somtimes can’t decide if it is because he is shy or if its because he wants to do it on his own. It is very frustrating. Does your school give you any common planning time? We have about an hour twice a week of planning time, so that works great. If they don’t provide time, the only other thing I could suggest is to plan with the general education teacher for 10 or 15 minutes each day after school. I know it is not ideal, but sometimes you have to take what you can get! good luck!

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