Co-Teaching with an Education Specialist

casinoRemember Module 4.1? In addition to playing the odds, you were introduced to math teacher Mr. Waitley and special education teacher Ms. Gaines. By working together as co-teachers, they were able to utilize her expertise in working with students with special needs to provide students with an additional ally in their challenge to learn mathematics. Such teachers bring a wealth of knowledge and skills in working to support students' cognitive growth, including their problem solving abilities.

One way in which an education specialist can complement the content teacher is by raising questions that arise from her/his knowledge of the particular students in the class and their needs as learners. In the clip below, Ms. Sparks (a teacher with an education specialist credential) interjects a question that reflects her knowledge of the tendency some students have to presume the result of any calculation is the answer to the problem. This prompts Ms. Jacobs to reiterate to students the importance, after working out a calculation, of re-reading what it is they are solving for in order to determine whether they have found the answer.

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Does co-teaching with an education specialist result in marked student change? How does this co-teaching experience compare to the lesson we saw earlier from co-teaching partners in module 4.1? Whereas Ms. Jacobs and Ms. Sparks seemed tojacobs15 result serendipitously in a teachable moment, Mr. Waitley and Ms. Gaines's lesson reflected a planned, systematic approach to instruction, possibly due to the fact that they had common planning time.

Research by Magiera and Zigmond (2005) found that when teachers do not have training in how to effectively co-teach and are not given a common period, the quality of a co-taught course declines. Specifically, co-teaching arrangements that receive little administrative support (e.g., common planning time) were observed by researchers to have lessons that were traditional in structure, lacking most of the strategies that education specialist teachers have been trained to utilize as a means to make content accessible to a broader range of learners.