The goal of the co-taught class is to allow students with special needs to fully participate in the general education classroom by providing a comprehensive range of services and a consistent, structured, and nurturing environment throughout the school day. Students are offered additional supports both in and out of the classroom as needed, to ensure their success in accessing the curriculum. The co-taught classroom hinges on the efforts of general education and special education teachers collaborating together to deliver high quality instruction to all types of learners in the most inclusive setting, the general education classroom.
Co-teaching models allow students with a variety of academic and social needs to be successfully included in general education classrooms. In a co-taught classroom, students with and without disabilities can access specially designed instruction and benefit from constant collaboration and expertise of general education and special education teachers. Students in co-taught classrooms benefit from experiencing and imitating the cooperative and collaborative skills that teachers show when they co-teach and the resulting positive sense of community. In addition, with two teachers in the classroom, there is increased flexibility in grouping and scheduling allowing students to benefit from greater teacher attention and increased time on task.
The staff in the co-taught classes consists of a full-time elementary teacher, a full-time special education teacher, and support of a teacher assistant or special education tutor if necessary. The district employs teachers who are special education certified by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and have expertise in the difficulties affecting children with disabilities. The teachers are experienced and skilled in researched-based reading, writing and mathematic instructional approaches as well as approaches to support students with social, emotional, attention, and behavioral difficulties. Additionally, teachers are supervised by an on-site special education administrator who works closely with the faculty to ensure student achievement. Professional development and training are provided for all staff on an ongoing basis.
The goal of the co-taught model is to enable students with significant special needs to fully participate in the general curriculum. A special education teacher is a member of the grade level planning team and teaches alongside the general education teacher full time. Ongoing planning and communication among general education and special education staff is central to the success of the class. Modifications of methodology, delivery of instruction, and performance criteria are provided on an individual basis within the co-taught classroom.
Extensive intervention to meet the academic and social needs of all students within the general classroom environment is a goal supported by all teachers and related services providers. To this end, specialists, such as OT, PT, and Speech and Language Therapists, work with students in the classroom whenever possible. Both the general and special education staff provide services to meet the IEP goals through both general curriculum as well as specially designed and individualized curriculum.
"Typical" students and students who demonstrate needs for special services are provided a challenging, developmentally appropriate curriculum. Students with special needs are supported academically and socially through small group teaching, tutoring and modifications of the curriculum. Depending upon students' individual needs, specially designed instruction is provided in a variety of areas. This may include: academic support, systematic learning strategies, and skill development in the area of: problem solving, organization and planning, communication, and social pragmatics.
In addition to the direct services described, there are indirect, transition, and specialist services available to students in the co-taught classrooms. The range of services varies widely depending on a student's individualized needs. The type and frequency of service are decided at the Team meeting.
Monitoring and consultation to parents and general education teachers
Consultation may be provided by a special educator, speech and language pathologist, occupational or physical therapist, social worker, or psychologist
Monitoring and consultation to parents and general education teachers by a special educator, speech and language pathologist, occupational or physical therapist, or psychologist.
Coordination of instructional services
Development of curricular modifications and accommodations
Co-planning with the general education teacher
Participation in collaborative team meetings
Related Services Related services assist a child with a disability in benefiting from special education and to reach their IEP goals and objectives. The related services that students may receive include:
Adaptive Physical Education
Social Skills/Pragmatics Instruction
Speech and Language Therapy
Vision/Orientation and Mobility Services
The special education staff is extensively involved in the transition process between receiving and sending teachers.