|Teachers co-planning, co-teaching in a grade 7 UGDSB classroom|
Imagine a classroom, full of students with a variety of academic, social-emotional, and psychological needs. For many Applied level secondary classrooms in Ontario, this is the reality. Some have formal identifications, some do not. Students are rarely removed from the classroom for extra support (in many cases, there simply isn't support available). Not only is inclusion of students with identifications the law in Ontario, it is also the morally right thing to do. Segregation of populations is rarely beneficial to anyone. To encourage student success for all, co-teaching is an effective practice that not only creates a positive environment for student learning, but also promotes highly reflective educators who are engaged in improving their own practice.
Although focused on Minnesota schools, the ideas espoused in “Supporting co-teaching teams in high schools: Twenty research-based practices” (Nierengarten, 2013) apply in Ontario given the focus on integration of students into “regular” classrooms rather than in specialized, withdrawal settings. As an example of the similarities, both jurisdictions have passed legislation for inclusion, both require Individualized Educational Plans for identified students, and both focus on a collaborative approach to providing support for student success. Co-teaching as a strategy would focus on all students in the classroom, not just students who are formally identified, which is fully supported by the Ontario Ministry of Education’s idea of “good for some, great for all”. Co-teaching is defined as “two or more professionals delivering substantive instruction to a diverse, or blended, group of students in a single physical space” (Cook & Friend, as cited in Nierengarten, 2013).
Nierengarten, G., E.D.D. (2013). Supporting co-teaching teams in high schools: Twenty research-based practices. American Secondary Education, 42(1), 73-83. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1462773619?accountid=14391