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busybeing busybeing is offline
 
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Co-teaching in self-contained
Old 08-12-2017, 04:04 PM
 
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I teach in a self-contained classroom. It used to be 3-5 with a max of ten kids, but the district went school choice last year and the program swelled. Last year, I was hired mid-year to take on the 3/4 group because they were out of compliance with numbers. I didn't coteach with the 5th grade teacher - we just shared the classroom. The district moved our program to a smaller school that has more space, so I would have my own classroom and the 5th grade teacher would have her own classroom. Well, the 5th grade teacher was non renewed and so they just hired someone else, I'll call her "Teacher A" lol (this WILL get confusing!).

Because of numbers for this year, things were shifted and the caseload split became 3rd grade alone and then 4/5 combined. I was to teach 3rd because that is the bulk of my teaching experience. However, a new student just enrolled who will be placed into the 4/5 group, putting the numbers over again. Instead of hiring a para, they hired another full time teacher, "Teacher B."

My principal approached me and asked what my appetite would be for "co-teaching" again. She said she wanted to place Teacher B in the same room with Teacher A, but doesn't feel that, based on what she observed of Teacher A in the interview, that Teacher A had the "personality type" to successfully co-teach. So now she is looking to completely overhaul the caseloads and have me co-teach with Teacher B, grade levels yet determined. Extremely unhappy with this.

My biggest, most pressing concern.... and maybe it's also because I'm kind of a control freak, lol..... but, I am sensing that she wants each of us to share responsibility for all of the students together. I'm uncomfortable with this, since if my name is on record on the IEP as the teacher, I'd prefer I be the one delivering instruction instead of another teacher.

Has anyone "co-taught" within a self-contained classroom with another teacher??? I feel like it's a lot different than having a para run centers, etc.

Hope this all made sense, my head is still spinning. I just found this out yesterday.


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Old 08-12-2017, 06:25 PM
 
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I get it. I wonder if you could find a way to still "split" the teaching load. Could one person take on ELA and social studies, while the other took math and science (or whatever split would work best for you)? It might be really awesome, because while one person was teaching and running groups with paras, the other could pull students for data, assessments, paperwork, etc.
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Old 08-12-2017, 09:53 PM
 
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I personally dislike co-teaching, but my only experience has been as a mild/moderate teacher where you're going into lots of different gen ed classrooms. In that scenario, I feel like no matter how much lip service is given to the teachers being equal, since the gen ed teacher is in that specific classroom all day and the sped teacher is only there for part of the day, you are coming into "their" space and things aren't equal. The SPED teacher always ends up being treated like a para, IMO.

I do think something where you both have the same job and you're both in the same room 100% of the time would be a much better setup. That said, I'd selfishly probably still just want to do my own thing if possible. Not only do I like to be in control, but this job is already a lot of work and co-planning takes 10x longer than just planning on my own, IMO.

Based on what you described, it sounds like there isn't space in your building for this third teacher to have her own room. Is it possible your P is just trying to present sharing a room with this teacher in a nicer way? It sounds like he did ask your opinion rather than just telling you that you'd be doing it, so you have an option to say no (you know your boss best and how that would work out for you).

If you don't want to outright say no, maybe offer to share your room with this teacher and co-teach one subject this year to see how it goes. That way you can still be a "team player" but you're not totally disrupting your entire routine. If it does go well, you can always add in more subjects later.
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Old 08-13-2017, 04:05 PM
 
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I have never officially co-taught in self-contained but I've had a co-teacher who I really respected and enjoyed planning projects with and we co-taught and student-shared voluntary. It worked out well. I have had other coworkers who I liked personally, but who I could never co-teach with because we have such different styles. Another special ed section in our district had a co-teaching model where 6 self contained teachers each had a case load but would teach different groups by ability. Sometimes they would not get to teach students on their caseload and would feel really disconnected from their own students. It was a big mess and they switches back to separate self-contained classrooms after a few years.

I would have a hard time agreeing to co-teach with someone I never met. I'd say if you do your principal 'a favor' and agree to co-teach, you should be able to determine with your new co-teacher of how you guys want to do that.
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Old 08-21-2017, 12:29 PM
 
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I have co-taught for the past 5 years. My very first year, I taught with three different general education teacher. But, for the past three years, I have only co-taught with one teacher. And, if I had to co-teach, I would rather co-teach with just one person. I can offer you some advice to hope that the school year will go smoothly. And, hopefully, it's helpful.

If you're going to co-teach, make sure that you have a prep or a planning period during the school year together. It is very important that you have time to meet up during the school day where the two of you can talk and plan without any interruption. You may also want to meet before the school year starts to discuss how you want to divide the workload or discuss about pet peeves you both might have so that you can function smoothly. Discuss what are both of your preferred teaching style. Discuss your strengths and weaknesses. What are some classroom procedures you prefer? Which ones do you not have any particular opinions on? Do you allow students to get out of their seats without permission? Do you allow students to stand and work, if it means they're completing their work. Be flexible. However, make sure you're clear on your non-negotiable. Just make sure you don't have a long list of non-negotiables.

You haven't met your co-teacher yet. So, it's unfair to assume it's going to be a difficult year. Best case scenario, you will have similar teaching styles and visions for the classroom. Worst case scenario, you will be polar opposite of each other. Either way, you will have to figure out how to work together. It's important to keep communication open and honest. It's very much like a relationship like that. If you like something that your co-teacher is doing, don't be afraid to tell them that. If there's something your co-teaching is doing, tell them that as well. Though, you might want to share that when there aren't any students around. Make sure that you both have the same vision and goals. If you can come to an agreement on that, everything else (all the little details) can be adjusted.

It's understandable to be nervous about sharing responsibilities with another teacher. However, that is why it is important to share goals and visions. It is important that it is similar. Remember, the other teacher is just as nervous about sharing responsibilities with you as well. You name may be on the official record, but the outcome will reflect on you and your co-teacher.

There's a lot of blogs and websites that tell you how to manage a co-teach classroom. But, the key is to communicate. Don't let things fester. If something is bothering you, be open about it. If the communication between you and your co-teacher is poor, perhaps get a mediator involved. A union rep or a unbiased teacher.

Hopefully this helps. Let us know how the school year goes.


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Old 09-25-2017, 02:07 PM
 
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I just resigned from a position like this. Co-teaching in a self-contained classroom with 16 students and 4 parapros. The other teacher was new to this Life Skills class, too. The parapros had been shifted around the building because of their behavior and attitudes. At one point, the class had been two separate Life Skills classrooms. However, the two teachers were good friends and decided to put the classrooms together. After the first day, I knew that the class was too large with the mix of students we have. About 9 who needed changing, three in wheelchairs who need complete care including feeding. The other students are much higher functioning. I asked if we could separate the classroom and the administration agreed. My co-teacher with the help of the parapros voted down my proposal to separate. Needless to say, the situation became unbearable, especially when you add a co-teacher working to undermine me and two nasty parapros. One who absolutely refused to change diapers or work with any child who drooled. She told the Principal this before she was placed in this classroom. They asked her to give it a try! I resigned last Thursday. I told the Principal why and she accepted it. She said she felt that the parapros had done things to "run off the two teachers last year". I told her I would stay until this Friday.
I took off today and tomorrow because one parapro has become openly hostile and confrontational with me. I do not want to be pushed into a situation where she pushes me to do something that I will regret and jeopardizes my teaching career. Good luck with your situation.
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Old 09-26-2017, 03:49 AM
 
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Hi all -

Thanks for your replies!

So, they ended up keeping me in grade 3. They moved the inclusion teacher into the program, so she is coteaching with a teacher who is new to the district (and new to public schools!)

It is not going well... two very different classroom management styles with kids who are very difficult behaviorally. One teacher has a good handle on it the other does not. They are splitting up centers so they are essentially sharing each others' caseloads. The new teacher is doing the best she can, but the teacher who got moved into the position is very negative and is complaining to everyone in the building... don't think she'll be here much longer (thinking she'll quit), but then that leaves the new teacher with 12 kids and one para. Definitely can be done, I did that caseload last year, but it wasn't easy.
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