Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Making Inclusion Work

teamworkI am a mentor for our Council for Exceptional Children organization and currently mentor a college student who is getting a degree in Special Education. My mentee emailed me about a situation that occurred and I thought it would be a great topic to talk about in my blog.

If you came to this post thinking you would find the magic answer, I’m sorry but it just isn’t out there. I can make suggestions that might make your experience more successful though.

Suppose you are told that beginning the semester, you would be coteaching with a colleague in an inclusion classroom. There was no request or suggestion for this pairing but it is now written in stone. What do you do? How do you begin? Here are some ideas to start with:

1. Suggest a meeting with the other teacher to brainstorm ways to make this model work. Don’t wait or expect the other teacher to make the first step.

2. Suggest that you both write down your strengths and weaknesses in the classroom as well as preferences and bring it to the meeting. Sometimes I tend to think the worse or assume that another person may feel a certain way only to find out that I was wrong. If another person’s strength is my weakness, we can build on that.

3. During the meeting, someone should take notes that can be emailed to both of you so that you can refer back to this information when needed. Both of you may be in highly emotional state at this time and won’t remember what you talked about.

4. Talk about the elephant in the room. Acknowledge that you both may be nervous and have different expectations so communication is essential for both of you to be successful.

5. As the subject area teacher, I feel that teacher should come up with the list of topics/curriculum for the year. In some schools, this may already be standardized and expected. If there is a specific topic that interests you or that you have some great material, share it at this time.

6. Talk about classroom procedures. Decide on a procedure that works for both of you. Sometimes you may need to give in to certain procedures that you don’t necessarily agree with but it isn’t the end of the world. Fight the battles that are important and not argue over the trivial.

7. Decide who will introduce the lesson, how both of you will instruct and interact with the students, how will assessment be done. This is a great time to talk about accommodations that can be done as well as alternative assessments.

8. Talk about record keeping and who will be responsible for what.

9. Decide on a discipline that you both can live with. This will be vital because by nature, students will play 2 adults against each other when given the chance.

For those of you who have worked in this kind of model, what suggestions do you have that would help these teachers be successful? If you haven’t worked in this model, what do you think would help you if you were put into this situation? Thanks for sharing!

Posted on the Successful Teaching Blog by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).

Image: 'Teamwork'

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