Co-teaching/Co-education in Greek secondary mainstream classrooms- From the perspective of co-teachers and children with special educational needs
Xanthopoulou, Pinelopi Dr
Date: 11 July 2017
University of Exeter
PhD in Education
Co-teaching as an inclusive educational model is a new approach in Greece which aims to support the inclusion of children with special educational needs (SEN) in mainstream schools. This research aimed to investigate and evaluate co-teaching practices as well as teachers’ and students’ with SEN perceptions with regard to co-teaching. ...
Co-teaching as an inclusive educational model is a new approach in Greece which aims to support the inclusion of children with special educational needs (SEN) in mainstream schools. This research aimed to investigate and evaluate co-teaching practices as well as teachers’ and students’ with SEN perceptions with regard to co-teaching. This research adopted a mixed methodology in two independent phases in order to address the needs of the study. Namely, 140 teachers were surveyed and multiple case studies of five different secondary co-taught classrooms were incorporated. This study showed that the way co-teaching is implemented in Greek secondary schools is closer to the model of “one teach-one assist”. Specifically, co-teachers saw the general teacher as responsible for all children, while the special teacher as responsible for an individual child with SEN included in a mainstream classroom. Thus, limited special teacher role expansion to all children was observed. The study showed that the general teachers were more negative about the sharing of various classroom responsibilities compared to the special teachers. Moreover, the approach of children’s withdrawal out of class was implemented to a significant extent. According to the research findings it was largely the special teachers who preferred this integrated approach and not the general teachers. Also, limited differentiation and grouping methods were used by co-teachers. In addition, this study indicated that co-teaching pairs did not collaborate with each other in an extensive way and did not commonly plan lessons together. Thus, teacher participants were quite sceptical in relation to the potential personal benefits of co-teaching to themselves. This study showed teacher training in co-teaching, teachers’ sensitivity and positive attitudes towards children with SEN, collaboration between co-teachers and mutual planning time, clear and official allocation of co-teaching roles and special teachers employment at the beginning of the academic year were all regarded as factors which would facilitate the successful implementation of co-teaching. Interestingly, the present study revealed that from the perspectives of both teachers and children with SEN the model of “one teach-one assist” seemed to have positive academic outcomes to children with SEN. However, the model of “one teach-one assist” seemed to have not only positive but also negative social and personal outcomes for children with SEN. From the perspective of some teachers and children with SEN respondents it seems that the model of “one teach-one assist” limited the social interactions of some children with SEN and interrelationships with the remaining children, which was due to sitting next to them during the lesson time and escorting them during the break time. Moreover, children with SEN did not see that co-teaching resulted in their social skills development. As a result some children with SEN expressed their unwillingness to be supported by a special teacher during the following academic year. Among the various disadvantages of co-teaching that children with SEN mentioned was the confusion that they usually felt when both teachers were speaking simultaneously. Lastly, children with SEN who experienced the out of class support expressed their preference for being supported out of the mainstream classroom. This was because they saw that the out of class support benefited them academically.
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