The Experience of Co-teaching Elementary School Teachers in a Rural Public School District
As a result of recent federal legislative changes affecting educational policies, co-teaching, which requires general and special educators to work together to provide instruction to students in inclusion classrooms, has been on the rise and is considered by some educators as a method for meeting mandates required by law. While co-teaching is an idea that should work in practice, teachers who implement co-teaching find themselves facing complex issues regarding their roles and responsibilities within the context of program logistics. This qualitative study was designed to help co-teaching partners and others to understand how co-teaching partnerships are formed, develop, and work in classrooms. This understanding may be helpful to others as they seek to overcome barriers and form relationships that facilitate successful co-teaching partnerships.
Elementary co-teachers in a rural school district were interviewed face-to-face, and a document analysis was conducted to examine how co-teachers experience co-teaching partnerships. Six general education co-teachers and six special education co-teachers were randomly selected for interviews, and they were asked to bring any literature that they had received on co-teaching to the interviews.
Results indicate that co-teachers thought compatibility was important when working as co-teachers. They expressed the need for a mutual planning time during the school day, and both general and special education co-teachers were concerned about the amount of uninterrupted time special education teachers could spend in inclusion classrooms. When co-teachers thought they had a compatible partnership, they were willing to make alternative planning arrangements, and they were accepting of the time special education co-teachers could spend in the classroom.