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M. Morris

NYC Public Schools / International Schools (UNITED STATES)
When you exclude those in our society who learn differently, you exclude those who can contribute differently to our society...

Our teaching and learning goals within the Inclusive Co-teaching programs in both New York and New Jersey were to construct and integrate innovative pedagogy with techniques specific to addressing the needs of our special education population as well as the conventional learners within one classroom in order to integrate and effectively challenge all learners in kind in all academic areas. As the primary researcher in grades 6-12, my charge was to design and construct an innovative pedagogy and academically inclusive program that was student centered, cohesive, and sustainable. Co teaching partnerships were tested, and nourished through rich interactions, common goal setting, and intensive professional and personal development in order to help cultivate and maintain strong regard for the partnership both in and out of the classroom, between generalists and special educators. Learning outcomes were aligned with Common Core Standards in order to help present a commonality between learners with special needs and those with typical abilities. The study was then normed and a new grade level and teaching team added each year. The purpose to cultivate new partnerships to show sustainability of an inclusive co teaching program designed to enhance instruction for all learners of all abilities within one classroom. The program designed is to be replicated in all content areas with the proper administrative support.

The research was set up in phases and replicated over the course of 4 school years to prove sustainability in the integrative/inclusive co teaching classrooms. Through professional development, establishing core communication strategies, and the development of a common lesson plan template for each teaching partner, teachers were provided with the opportunity to use survey data and participatory action research to develop a new model for inclusive co-teaching that integrated best practices and established cohesion and clarity among co-teaching partners.

The data were collected through surveys, interviews, observations, discussions, and reflective journals. The first conclusion was that teacher’s negative perceptions of co-teaching did not deter them from wanting to try to work collaboratively in co-teaching partnership. The second conclusion was that teachers needed to learn about best practices models through in-service training in order to be able to implement them effectively. The third conclusion was that establishing a protocol for effective communication is a necessary step in establishing effective co-teaching partnerships. The fourth conclusion was that the researcher’s leadership style had a positive effect on the core study group’s ability to affect change of the inclusive co-teaching model in a secondary school.

Friend, Marilyn. "Co-Teaching: A Simple Solution That Isn't Simple After All." Journal of Curriculum and Instruction 2.2 (2008): n. pag. Print.