So, on Monday I had my first Professional Development of the year. I found out that I will have all of the third grade special education students in my room and I will be co-teaching. This PD focused on the various co-teaching approaches. I didn’t get a chance to meet my co-teacher, but I am excited. I think this will be an awesome experience for me- I just pray I can do a great job! I thought the PD was very informative. I found out that our state is trying to make it so at least 80% of the special education students are in the gen. ed. classroom at least 80% of the time. I think this is terrific! I don’t think students should be separated from the general education class because they have special needs. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that some students need to be pulled out of the room at times for extra support and that there are some circumstances when they are just not ready to be around that many people all the time, but I don’t think that separating students just because they have special needs is okay. I believe all children deserve the best education experience and that includes building social skills. I learned a lot about the different types of co-teaching approaches during this PD. I am not saying these approaches were completely new to me- I heard about these at a middle school in the district when I was a long-term sub, but they had already introduced them before I started so they did not go into too much detail. I am just going to give a brief summary of each just in case you want to try any of them in your room. The first two are ones that are often done a lot, maybe too much, and our special education coaches suggested we modify our views of them and decrease how much we use them. One Teach, One Observe This first approach is how it sounds, one teacher provides instruction while the other one “observes.” The special education coaches suggested we change the name of this teaching approach to “One teach, one assess.” We talked about how when one teacher is providing instruction while the other one is off to the side, both teachers are not utilized to their fullest capabilities. This approach works best when both teachers plan ahead time to decide what data needs to be collected and what they will do with the data. One Teach, One Assist This is another approach that was given a different name at the PD, “One teach, one support.” I like the name of this. One teacher would be providing instruction while the other one is providing any support that they can to the students. This one is a good approach, but I agree; it can be overused. Parallel Teaching When parallel teaching, students are split into two groups. Both teachers provide instruction at the same exact time over the same information. This approach puts students in smaller groups where they are more likely to contribute more. Station Teaching Station teaching is exactly how it sounds; students participate in stations, two of which are being led by the co-teachers. The same topic is covered in both small groups so students receive a double dose of instruction. Students who are not meeting with the teachers are at different stations around the room (one or more). Alternative Teaching Alternative teaching is a lot like parallel teaching except in alternative teaching, one teacher has a large group while the other teacher has a smaller group. This is a great strategy for instructing students who need more support with a specific topic. Team Teaching In this last approach both teachers instruct t the entire class together. The teachers can piggy-back off one another and provide different perspectives to the students. In the PD we also talked about how co-teaching requires a lot of flexibility. You should not separate students the exact same way every time you use one of these approaches. The groups should depend on students’ needs at that specific time. Teachers should share responsibilities and switch up roles in the classroom. It is very important for both teachers to be seen as equals and feel like equals. I look forward to meeting my co-teacher and trying out these different approaches. Is there an approach that you use the most?