04 SES 09 C, Where Inclusive School, Inclusive Education And Inclusive Research Meet
Developing inclusive schools entails removing all barriers that have traditionally been denying all children’s right to quality education (Fullan, 2003). Co-teaching is considered an approach that promotes quality teaching in inclusive settings (Murawski & Hughes, 2009; Prizeman, 2015; Dev & Haynes, 2015; Scruggs, Mastropieri, & McDuffie, 2007) and views students’ diversity an important resource for learning. The research reported in this paper aimed to examine how co-teaching between a mainstream class teacher and a special teacher can contribute to the improvement of all children’s academic achievement and social participation. In addition, it aimed to understand how the teachers’ interaction can enrich their knowledge, attitudes and skills, and contribute to their professional development.
Co-teaching occurs when two teachers share instructional responsibility in a mainstream classroom (Friend, Embury & Clarke, 2015). It is recognized as a critical enabler of inclusive practice (Beamish, Bryer & Davies, 2006), which can be reinforced by differentiated instruction (Murawski & Hughes, 2009). Through differentiated instruction, co-teachers can reach all the students in their class (Gately & Gately, 2001). Both general and special teachers, have knowledge and skills that stems from their different educational backgrounds. Bringing their knowledge together is priceless and can enhance differentiated instruction and inclusive education (Murawski & Hughes, 2009; Santamaria & Thousand, 2004 in Prizeman, 2015). According to the literature, there are different models of co-teaching (Tzivinikou, 2015; Obiakor, Harris, Mutua, Rotatori & Algozzine, 2012), but ‘team teaching’ is the model that encourages teachers’ collaboration to the greatest extent and entails their meaningful engagement in planning and teaching together. It also contributes in teachers’ professional development since it enables them to enrich their instructional sills through collaboration at different levels.
According to the literature, research on the development of co-teaching as a means to support inclusive education is very limited (Strogilos & Stefanidis, 2015; Hang & Rabren, 2009) and remains at a theoretical level. Therefore, we consider our research important in a number of ways. First, findings that clearly indicate how co-teaching between general and special educators can be effective for both teachers and learners could facilitate the move from systems of integration to inclusive education systems. Second, using the findings to develop a model for co-teaching in inclusive education, could reinforce further research on the topic and illuminate policy and practice.
The study examined how co-teaching between a mainstream class teacher and a special teacher can contribute to the improvement of all children’s academic achievement and social life, and can enhance teachers’ professional development. The ‘team teaching’ model guided teachers’ collaboration and teaching. The main methodological approach was action research (Cohen, Manion & Morrison, 2000), because it is considered a powerful tool for change and improvement at the local level, while it improves learning and education though the self- reflection and critical thinking of teachers. The research was conducted in a primary school in Cyprus, between a general and a special teacher, who were involved in curriculum development in language. They designed eleven differentiated lessons, eighty minutes each, in a class with 21 students (11 boys and 10 girls), aged between 7-8 years old. Both the teachers and students were a convenience sample. In particular, one of the researchers (who is also one of the authors of this paper) worked in the chosen school as a ‘second’ teacher in the mainstream class, through a program of the Ministry of Education in Cyprus known as DRA.S.E (Actions for social and educational inclusion). She is a primary school teacher with a postgraduate degree in “Special and Inclusive Education” and has nine years of experience in teaching. She agreed to collaborate with a general teacher who works in the same school. The general teacher has fourteen years of experience in teaching, but no background in differentiated instruction. After the official permission to carry out the study, all the participants and the students’ parents gave their consent to participate in the study. They were informed about the aims of the study and their anonymity was confirmed. Data was collected both from the two teachers and the students. Data from teachers entailed all the lesson plans, recorded conversations (during planning and feedback), research diaries, and completion of self-reflection lists at the end of the program. Data from students involved observation, video recorded snapshots, and focus group interviews. Data on the academic achievement was collected at the beginning and in the end of the study, through a test on language competence. A content analysis of the data is now in process (Mayring, 2000), using ATLAS.ti software as a tool.
According to the preliminary findings of the study, co-teaching has positive impact on students and teachers. First, there are benefits for all students, although the level each students is benefited varies. In particular, some students showed dramatic changes in their social relationships and motivation to be involved in the activities planned. Other students progressed more academic wise. The quality factors explaining why particular students showed progress in specific areas are examined. They are discussed alongside the literature, which maintains the benefits for students are greater when co-teaching and differentiated instruction occur at the same time (Strogilos & Stefanidis, 2015• Solis, Vaughn, Swanson, & Mcculley 2012• Prizeman, 2015) because all students are getting more active and creative, collaborate effectively and increase their self-confidence through co-teaching (Graziano & Navarrete, 2012). Second, the study seems to demonstrate the importance of collaboration between general and special teachers, who share responsibility in planning, instruction and evaluation, something that enhances their knowledge, attitudes and skills, in order to successfully implement co-teaching, differentiated instruction and inclusive education (Liasidou, 2012). The study provides evidence to suggest how teachers’ differing background contributed to their mutual professional development (Scruggs et al., 2007). In particular, the fact that the mainstream class teacher was more familiar with the curriculum content and special teacher was more familiar with individualizing strategies or ways to make content accessible to students who were struggling, proved to play a key role in planning and implementing differentiated teaching.
Beamish, W., Bryer, F., & Davies, M. (2006). Teacher reflections on co-teaching a unit of work. International Journal of Whole Schooling, 2(2), 3-19. Cohen, L., Manion, L., & Morrison, K. (2000). Research Methods in Education. 5th Edition. London- New York: Routledge Falmer. Dev, P., & Haynes, L. (2015). Teacher perspectives on suitable learning environments for students with disabilities: What have we learned from inclusive, resource, and self-contained classrooms? International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences: Annual Review, 9, 53-64. Friend, M., Embury, D. C., & Clarke, L. (2015). Co-teaching versus apprentice teaching: An analysis of similarities and differences. Teacher Education & Special Education, 38(2), 79-87. Fullan, M. (2003). The moral imperative of school leadership. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin press. Gately, S, E,, & Gately, F. J. (2001). Understanding co-teaching components. Teaching Exceptional Children, 33(4), 40-47. Graziano, K. J. & Navarrete, L. A. (2012). Co-teaching in a teacher education classroom: Collaboration, compromise, and creativity. Issues in Teacher Education, 21(1), 109-126. Hang, Q. & Rabren, K. (2009). An Examination of Co-Teaching Perspectives and Efficacy Indicators. Remedial and Special Education, 30(5), 259-268. Liasidou, A. (2012). Inclusive Education, Politics and Policymaking: Contemporary issues in education studies. London: Continuum. Mayring, Ph (2000). Qualitative content analysis. Forum Qualitative Social Research, 1(2), Art.20. Murawski, W. W. & Hughes, C. E. (2009). Response to intervention, collaboration, and co-teaching: A logical combination for successful systemic change. Preventing School Failure: Alternative Education for Children and Youth, 53(4), 267-277. Obiakor, F. E., Harris, M., Mutua, K., Rotatori, A., & Algozzine, B. (2012). Making inclusion work in general education classrooms. Education and Treatment of Children, 35(3), 477-490. Prizeman, R. (2015). Perspectives on the Co-Teaching Experience: Examining the Views of Teaching Staff and Students. REACH Journal of Special Needs Education in Ireland, 29(1), 43-53. Scruggs, T. E., Mastropieri, M. A. & McDuffie, K. A. (2007). Co- Teaching in Inclusive Classrooms: A Metasynthesis of Qualitative Research. Exceptional Children, 73(4), 392-416. Solis, M., Vaughn, S. Swanson, E. & Mcculley, L. (2012). Collaborative models of instruction: The empirical foundations of inclusion and co-teaching. Psychology in the Schools, 49(5), 498-510. Strogilos, V. & Stefanidis, A. (2015). Contextual antecedents of co-teaching efficacy: Their influence on students with disabilities’ learning progress, social participation and behavior improvement. Teaching and teacher Education, 47, 218-229. Tzivinikou, S. (2015). Collaboration between general and special education teachers: Developing co-teaching skills in heterogeneous classes. Problems of Education in the 21st Century, 64, 108-119.
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