Do you have difficulty finding planning time with your team, paraprofessionals, co-teacher, or special education liaison?
In order for collaboration to be effective, you need time to plan together. If you don’t have the time to discuss plans, review upcoming tests, consider recommended modifications and implementation of I.E.P. goals, it will be difficult if not impossible to have a successful inclusive classroom.
If your school provides you with planning time, stay focused on the task. Try to avoid social conversation because it will only leave you feeling as if you accomplished nothing afterwards. If possible, share agenda and task information beforehand through school mail so that the time you have can be used to the maximum benefit.
Speak up if you are being asked to give up planning time for other duties. You need that time and it is legitimate to require it.
If your school does not provide planning time, it will probably make your life easier in the long run, if you can employ some of the following options:
1. Use time before school, after school, or during common preps/specials to meet and plan. Remember: The goal is to make YOUR job easier and more successful in the long run. It is a waste of your energy to begrudge the time if you choose this option.
2. Arrange for coverage with a substitute one day a week or month to free time to collaborate.
3. Contact your local PTA and see if there are parent volunteers who may be willing to help cover classes so you can plan. High Schools seriously under utilize volunteers.
4. Oftentimes substitutes have free blocks of time when the teacher they are substituting for has prep periods. See if a substitute can cover your class during a free block of time.
5. For information that must be communicated before the next school day, you might arrange to call each other after hours.
6. At the least, communicate through the mailbox by sharing what is working, what isn’t working and what is needed.
7. Communicating through e-mail is another viable option.
8. If the regular classroom teacher can provide the special education staff person with copies of lesson plans, tests, projects ahead of time by simply photocopying and placing these items in the support teacher’s mail box or e-mailing the plans to the collaborative teacher, it allows enough time for the specialist to assist with accommodations and make helpful recommendations. It also enables that person to go into the class prepared to help.
9. Grade reports placed in the special education teacher’s mailbox enables both the regular classroom teacher and the special education teacher to catch failures before they become quarter grades.
10. Use the time you do have face to face effectively. Avoid going off on tangents. If you are stuck, put the difficulty aside and come back to it later.
For more information on co-teaching and co-teaching models, see Susan Fitzell’s book, Co-teaching and Collaboration in the Classroom. Available in both print and electronic versions!
We also offer a Professional Development Kit for Co-teachers, with a Graduate Credit Option!
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