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Open Access Publications from the University of California

An Arranged Marriage: Special and General Educators’ Preliminary Openness to Co-teaching

  • Author(s): Siker, Jody Rebecca
  • Advisor(s): Murata, Aki
  • Courey, Susan J
  • et al.

Co-teaching relationships between special and general educators are built on a shared vision and mutual respect. Often, it is difficult to establish these relationships due to differences in training and teaching philosophies. This study measured special and general educators’ openness to co-teaching and surveyed their instructional preferences and willingness to share responsibility for teaching a heterogeneous group of students. It honed in on the personal commitment required to build teaching partnerships across special education and general education. The purpose of this study was two-fold: (a) to develop of a new measure of teachers’ openness to co-teaching, and (b) to understand special and general educators’ attitudes about and preferences in connection to co-teaching that might affect the formation of a co-teaching relationship. Results demonstrate that teachers were positive about collaboration and co-teaching, but there were differences in openness based on teacher type (special or general educators) and experience co-teaching. In addition, special educators were much more likely than general educators to have any experience co-teaching. Half of general educators had never co-taught, while only 16% of special educators had never co-taught. There were also differences between special and general educators in their ideas about which teacher would be responsible for instructional tasks. Although all teachers reported that they wanted to collaborate, general educators were likely to prefer taking the lead on all instructional tasks except modifying the curriculum to reach struggling learners. Special educators preferred equal responsibility on all tasks except modifying the curriculum; they wanted the lead on that task to a greater extent than general educators, but all teachers reported that special educators should take the lead when modifying curriculum. Findings from this study have implications for teacher training and school districts who want to implement co-teaching. The measure could be used to screen teachers for openness to co-teaching before attempting to establish these relationships and pinpoint areas for additional professional development.

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