The Norman Transcript

April 11, 2014

Readers respond to co-teaching issue


The Norman Transcript

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?

Once again, thanks for all the interesting comments — thanks for being educators. Please remember we are all about every student getting the best education possible.

Q: I will be 24 this summer and want to return to college. I’ve been told I can get more financial aid at that point. Should I wait to fill out the FAFSA after my birthday?

— Kaleigh, of Norman

Dear Kaleigh,

Good for you. We applaud your efforts. A college education is never a bad thing. At the age of 24, students who are independent — meaning they are not claimed on parents’ income taxes or living with them — are eligible to file a FAFSA independently without providing parental financial information.

Depending on your income, you will be eligible for more financial aid once you turn 24. You can go ahead and register on the fafsa.gov site with a username and password, then have your tax return available to use once you celebrate your birthday.

It’s best to declare a major rather than staying undecided because the individual college programs also will offer scholarship money. List any schools on your form you’d be interested in attending. Good luck to you.

Please send questions to questions.classact@gmail.com. Sally and Jeannie are certified school counselors with more than 50 years combined educational experience. Jeannie has two children, Sally three. The responses presented don’t necessarily reflect the views of any certain school district.

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