04 SES 08 A, Framing Inclusion: Delivering Competing Goals In Schools
Every child has a right to inclusive education (United Nations, Article 24, 2006), which means that all children have the right to quality education alongside their peers of the same age in the mainstream classrooms (Dev & Haynes, 2015). Co-teaching is recognized as a critical enabler of inclusive practice (Beamish, Bryer & Davies, 2006), as it maximizes the opportunity for teachers to address the wide variety of needs in the mainstream classroom and ensure access for all through differentiated instruction (Murawski & Hughes, 2009). 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 social and academic achievement, and enhance teachers’ professional development.
Co-teaching involves the co-planning, co-instruction and co-assessing between two teachers who interact in the same class (Murawski, 2003 in Murawski & Hughes, 2009). Through this service delivery option, both mainstream and special teachers bring their differing knowledge and skills together (Santamaria & Thousand, 2004 in Prizeman, 2015). The literature reports five different models of co-teaching (Isherwood & Barger-Anderson, 2008; Tzivinikou, 2015; Obiakor, Harris, Mutua, Rotatori & Algozzine, 2012), but ‘team teaching’ is the model that encourages teachers’ collaboration to the greatest extent and promotes inclusive practice.
We consider our research important in a number of ways. Firstly, 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. Thus, findings could facilitate the move from systems of integration to inclusive education systems, as they clearly indicate how co-teaching between mainstream and special teachers can be effective for both teachers and students. Secondly, a number of scholars suggest that qualitative research is the most suitable way to investigate co-teaching and inclusion (Brantlinger, Jimenez, Klingner, Pugach, & Richardson, 2005; Scruggs, Mastropieri & McDuffie, 2007), because it provides researchers with an understanding of each unique case of co-teaching, as it is occurred naturally and then leads them inductively to the development of their ideal co-teaching model (Isherwood & Barger-Anderson, 2008). So, using the findings of our research to develop a model for co-teaching in inclusive education, could reinforce further research on the topic and illuminate policy and practice in Cyprus, Europe or worldwide.
The study was an action research (Cohen, Manion & Morrison, 2000), designed to bridge the gap between research and practice and make changes at the local level, and a case study examining the students’ social and academic achievement. In particular, the study aimed to examine the development, implementation and assessment of co-teaching between a mainstream and a special teacher (who is one of the authors of this paper) in a primary school class in Cyprus, and record the students’ social and academic achievement in different stages of the study. The two teachers were involved in curriculum development in Language and 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. The special teacher (who is also the researcher) 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. The mainstream class teacher has fourteen years of experience in teaching, but no background in differentiated instruction. 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 upon the completion of the study. 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 (Mayring, 2000), using ATLAS.ti software as a tool was undertaken.
The preliminary findings of the study show that co-teaching has positive impact on students and teachers. In this paper, we present an in-depth analysis of the progress of six students, taking into account the decisions we made as co-teachers for them, relating to their academic performance (about their academic level, speed, participation, time they concentrated, time and kind of personalized help) or their social interaction (about grouping, conflicts solving, collaboration, behavior). We discuss how co-teaching and differentiated instruction facilitate students to be active and creative, collaborate effectively and increase their self-confidence (Graziano & Navarrete, 2012). In addition, we explain how all students receive quality, appropriate, research-based instruction that can be observed and documented (Fuchs & Fuchs, 2007) through action research. Our findings also suggest that collaboration between the mainstream class teacher and the special teacher, in planning, instruction and evaluation (Vlachou, 2006· Liasidou, 2012), contributes in their mutual professional development (Scruggs et al., 2007). Before their enrolment in the study, the special teacher was considered the expert on individualization, differentiated instruction and progress monitoring, while the mainstream class teacher was considered the expert on accessing curriculum content. Their ongoing collaboration enhanced their knowledge, attitudes and skills. Our findings are discussed alongside the literature which suggests that differentiated instruction and co-teaching maximize achievement when they co-exist (Strogilos & Stefanidis, 2015· Prizeman, 2015).
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. Brantlinger, E., Jimenez, R., Klingner, J., Pugach, M., & Richardson, V. (2005). Qualitative Studies in Special Education. Exceptional Children, 71(2), 195–207. https://doi.org/10.1177/001440290507100205 Cohen, L., Manion, L., & Morrison, K. (2000). Research Methods in Education. 5th Edition. London- New York: Routledge Falmer. Fuchs, L., & Fuchs, D. (2007). A model for implementing responsiveness to intervention. Teaching Exceptional Children, 39(5), 14–23. 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. Isherwood, R. S., & Barger-Anderson, R. (2008). Factors affecting the adoption of co-teaching models in inclusive classrooms: One school's journey from mainstreaming to inclusion. Journal of Ethnographic & Qualitative Research, 2(2), 121-128. 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. 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. Vlachou, A. (2006). Role of special/support teachers in Greek primary schools: A counterproductive effect of ‘inclusion’ practices. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 10(1), 39-58.
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