NORMAN — We’ll say it again, we love our readers. Thanks to all of you who had comments about our column from the mom regarding her daughter in co-taught classes.
We would like to remind you that our column is based solely on our experiences as educators (more than 50 years combined). We received several emails from both advocates for and against team-taught classrooms. It’s interesting that all our responses came from teachers.
A few responses we received were from special education teachers who felt we “missed the mark.” They are involved in co-taught classes and mentioned classroom management, administrative assistance and parental support as the way to handle discipline problems.
After rereading the original question from the mother, we saw no mention of discipline issues. We understood “disruptions” as anything going on in the classroom that would cause a problem with her daughter’s concentration. This could have been anything.
These teachers felt having special education students in regular classroom settings offered a positive experience for special needs students as well as regular education students. There were several mentions of the co-teaching paradigm, if appropriately practiced, being beneficial to all involved.
The replies we received from those in agreement with us must be teachers from schools where “appropriate practices” are not being followed.
Comments from these emails followed the line of teaching responsibilities not being equitable and the regular classroom teacher being responsible for helping all students, for which they felt they were not adequately trained or paid the stipend that those with special education training receive.
In these comments, there were several mentions of large class sizes.
The most prolific statement out off all we received was made by a very experienced regular classroom teacher who asked us two questions worth pondering: Why has the definition for “least restrictive environment” recently come to mean a large-sized classroom with two teachers, and isn’t it more humiliating for a special education student to be taken out of said classroom for testing purposes?