04 SES 02 D, Supporting Inclusive Education Through Effective Co-Teaching
A three-tier support model was introduced in Finland in 2010. It included that all teachers have to give learning support for all students. The aim of this three-tier support model is to support student’s growth and learning. (HE109/2019) The goal is also to guarantee the student’s equal treatment. The new national core curriculum for primary school was introduced in 2014. It emphasises the importance of multidisciplinary cooperation in the identification, planning and implementation of learning. Also, inclusion is the basic principle in teaching. These reforms require new teaching skills from teachers. The traditional model of teachership has primarily been based on respect for the teacher's autonomy and at the same time creating a culture of unity in schools. (Stenberg, 2011) The principle of inclusion gives an opportunity for all students to develop their skills despite disabilities, ethnic backgrounds, culture or social status (Haug, 2017). Inclusion involves different types of dimensions, different levels and different types of social communities. Inclusion can be seen as a continuum, as an evolving process where another side has full inclusion and another full side exclusion (Qvortrup & Qvortrup, 2018).
Nowadays more and more students who need intensified or special support are studying in a general education class due to this three-tier support model. One promising way to response both of these demands, support of students and developing inclusion, is co-teaching. Co-teaching means a situation where two or more professionals plan, teach and evaluate together (Friend, Cook, Hurley-Chamberlain, & Shamberger, 2010). There is a wide range of school-specific models in co-teaching that vary according to the needs of students and the resources available. (Bešić, Paleczek, Krammer, & Gasteiger-Klicpera, 2017). The implementation of co-teaching has many challenges, e.g. lack of planning time, personality clashes and differences in epistemologies (Scruggs & Mastropieri, 2017). Also, in a primary and secondary school exist different types of challenges of co-teaching implementation mainly due to the subject teacher system. (Shin, Lee, & McKenna, 2016).
In this research, we are focusing on successful co-teaching experiences in both primary and secondary schools. We study the experiences of co-teaching and estimate their place in the continuum of inclusion. Our research questions were: How teachers describe well-working co-teaching? What kind of described co-teaching looks by inclusion view? Do the common learning problems appear in the answers?
The data of this research was collected part of project Support Together what is one of the Finnish Government key projects. The link for an electronic questionnaire was shared to the project schools and in some public lectures organized by the project. The questionnaire was replied by 484 teachers. In this research was used one open question: “Tell about positive co-teaching experiences? How did it start and what made it successful? To this question replied 274 teachers. We dropped out the teachers who had none or little experience of co-teaching. The research material consists of 88 answer whose length varies from few words to half page. The material has been analysed separately from primary and secondary school teachers’ answers. We used content analysis. Theoretical background (inclusion as a continuum and co-teaching) was at the background when we read the material. Two researchers read the data several times and searched for common themes. All themes were then discussed together. The level of consistency was high. The third researcher read the final analysis and commented on it. Themes have been summarised, and they have formed a core theme. The condensed themes are named as follow: Level grouping – Partial exclusion, Flexible methods – Partial Inclusion and Perfect co-teaching – Upcoming inclusion.
Co-teaching seems a promising way to support inclusion. Co-teaching was interpreted according to the needs of schools, students and teachers. The used working methods varied from grouping children based on ability to full time co-teaching. The three different core themes from the analysis can be placed at different places in the inclusion-exclusion continuum. Co-teaching itself does not always guarantee inclusion. Sharing students to ability groups and teaching them outside of the classrooms can be exclusive. Some teachers used flexible methods, using students grouping. It was a bit nearer inclusion that mere ability grouping. The principles of inclusive education, such as participation and learning with others (Morningstar, Shogren, Lee & Born, 2015) seemed to be easiest to approach with team teaching. This model is also the so called top-way of co-teaching (Fluijit et al., 2016). All three-core core ways to co-teach were found in both primary and secondary school. Common barriers to co-teaching were also mentioned in this research, but teachers did not consider them as problems. The teachers talked about planning time, and that they take time for it. Teachers who are using ability grouping and flexible methods need more time for planning than teachers who used perfect co-teaching. Trust to the other teacher and personality looked to be connected. When the teacher can trust to co-teacher, she/he can be worked using his/her own personality.
Bešić, E., Paleczek, L., Krammer, M., & Gasteiger-Klicpera, B. (2017). Inclusive practices at the teacher and class level: The experts’ view. European Journal of Special Needs Education, 3(3), 329–345. doi:10.1080/08856257.2016.1240339 Fluijt, D., Bakker, C., & Struyf, E. (2016). Team-reflection: The missing link in co-teaching teams. European Journal of Special Needs Education, 31(2), 187–201. doi:10.1080/08856257.2015.1125690 Friend, M., Cook, L., Hurley-Chamberlain, D., & Shamberger, C. (2010). Co-teaching: An illustration of the complexity of collaboration in special education. Journal of Educational and Psychological Consultation, 20, 9–27. doi:10.1080/10474410903535380 Haug, P. (2017). Understanding inclusive education: Ideals and reality. Scandinavian Journal of Disability Research, 19(3), 206–217. doi:10.1080/15017419.2016.1224778 HE 109/2009 Government proposal to Parliament to amend the Basic Education Act. Morningstar, M.E., Shogren, K.A., Lee, H. & Born, K. (2015). Preliminary lessons about supporting participation and learning in inclusive classrooms. Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities, 40(3), 192-210. doi: 10.1177/1540796915594158 Scruggs, T. E., & Mastropieri, M. A. (2017). Making inclusion work with co-teaching. Teaching Exceptional Children, 49(4), 284–293. doi:10.1177/0040059916685065 Shin, M., Lee, H., & McKenna, J. W. (2016). Special education and general education preservice teachers' co-teaching experiences: A comparative synthesis of qualitative research. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 20(1), 91–107. doi:10.1080/13603116.2015.1074732 Stenberg, K. (2011). Riittävän hyvä opettaja. PS-kustannus. [Good teacher] Qvortrup, A., & Qvortrup, L. (2018). Inclusion: Dimensions of inclusion in education. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 22(7), 803–817. doi:10.1080/13603116.2017.1412506
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