Sunday, February 9, 2014

Inclusion Innovations with Mrs. Salsman: Groupings Matter

Student groupings are very important in an inclusion environment. In my last Inclusion Innovations, I discussed the importance of making the kids "ours" instead of mine or theirs, and this becomes even more important when grouping.  Many times special education teachers go into a classroom and only work with the students with IEPs, but this doesn't have to be the case! When I pull groups within the classroom, I have a variety of special education and general education students.

Another important fact is that the special education teacher does NOT have to always be the one working with the special needs students!  When a child's minutes are in the general education setting, a general education teacher can provide those as long as accommodations and modifications are implemented.

Here are some of the most used inclusion groupings:

1. One teaches, one assists - This is usually seen the most.  The general education teacher is teaching, while the special education teacher assists.  Mix it up, and switch role sometimes! It makes for a wonderful dynamic. I switch this role with a kindergarten teacher sometimes, and it is wonderful for her to have that time to individually work with students around the room too.

2. Station Teaching - Each teacher teaches something different, and the children rotate through each of those stations. There can be independent activities in this rotation also.  Many times we have our set groups that the general education teacher teaches her group, while the special education teacher teaches another.  Why not rotate, so the students have a chance to learn even more from different perspectives?

3. Parallel Teaching - The teachers teach the same thing to 2 different groups of students.  This one is very important to have flexible grouping that changes at times and to have a mixture of general education and special education students.  Split the class in half between the 2 teachers, if you can due to space.  With some of my groups, I am not able to do completely half due to space in the room.  It is wonderful to teach smaller groups. This works very well for us during Kindergarten writing and phonics activities!

4. Alternative Teaching - This is seen a lot by the special education pulling a small group of special education students to a back table or somewhere in the room to work with them, while the general education teacher works with everyone else. This should be a flexible group also, based on the skill being practiced.  It may not be all of or only the students with special needs that need extra help, so pick the students that need the help without paying attention to a "label".  Switch up which teacher pulls the group. General education teachers love having small group time with students also, especially when it can be uninterrupted since there is another teacher with the rest of the class.

5. Team Teaching - This is one of my favorite.  This is where the 2 teachers are both in front of the class teaching together.  This can be difficult for some, as the teachers really need to be similar in teaching style or at least know how to work together through their differences. It can take a lot more planning and even some scripting, but it is wonderful.  It keeps the attention of younger kids very well.

General Education Teachers - I challenge you to change the way you look at your class and your teaching role. Become a team with a special education teacher and enhance the learning of your students with co-teaching.

Special Education Teachers - I challenge you to find a teacher that will welcome you into their class as another teacher.  Work to meet the needs of ALL students, not just the ones you are held accountable for.

Co-teaching has changed the way I look at teaching, and it is so much more fun for me this way.  I have a great group of teachers this year that I am co-teaching with.  I use parallel teaching and team teaching on a daily basis.  Yes, there is still a time for "one drift, one assist" and I use it, but it is not the one I look most forward to.

What type of co-teaching do you use in your classroom?


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