By: Jessica Reed, MA,@KYgirlinAlabama
When I think of how collaborative teaching has changed over the course of the last 10 years, one consistent idea for collaborative teaching is how teachers collaborate with one another. Collaboration could take place between special education teachers and general education teachers or it could look like general education teacher (cross-curriculum) working together to solve a problem for a standard. Collaboration has become a key to continue to improve instruction in the classroom and it can be improved by using Google.
You are a special education teacher and you have to work with a teacher, who everyone has said, is a horrible co-teacher. You get nervous because you do not want to step on any toes in another person’s classroom. You walk in and see the teacher, smiling and she says “Hi!”
Or imagine you are a general education teacher, who has been told that you are going to have an inclusion teacher with you, whether you like it or not. You are frustrated because this is your classroom and your last few experiences have not gone well. So when the Special education teacher walks into the room, you take a deep breath and smile and say “Hi!”
Have you ever felt either way? Co-Teaching/Collaboration is a tricky situation to be in the classroom for either the special education or general education teacher. Co-Teaching reminds me of being in a marriage. At the beginning of the year, everything is rosy and could either end up in divorce by Winter Break or the marriage could be working and getting stronger everyday. I have been in both seats as the general education teacher and special education teacher. I am going to share with you some tips to make this collaboration a positive one using Google.
What is Co-Teaching/Collaboration?
Co–teaching is when two or more educators share a classroom and provide instruction to a group of students.
What’s the benefit of this type of teaching?
Co-Teaching allows the students to have 2 teachers in the classroom and be able to work with a variety of students.
Imagine if a student clicks better with you then the other teacher and vice versa.
6 steps to making it a GREAT experience:
- Rapport: You don’t have to be best friends but try to enjoy each other’s presence.
- Teaching Style: Both identify your differently teaching styles and use them to create your own style for the classroom.
- Strengths and Weaknesses: Discuss each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Figure out how you can complement each other in the classroom.
- IEPS: Talk about any IEPS, ELL, or 504 students and how to cover all their different needs.
- Work Together: Come up with a plan of action for the entire school year , create a united front, and stick to it!
- Take Risks: Think outside of the box when it comes to lessons and activities!! I have had the pleasure of the last 2 years of working with the same co-teacher. Her name is Mrs. Wright and she thinks completely out of the box. We have such a great time in her class and her students can tell that we really like each other. One of the lessons that is out of the box is having her students complete a murder mystery at our school after reading an Agatha Christie novel. All of the staff participates and the students really enjoy the activity.
To be successful at all in the classroom… you have to talk with each other… and keep each other informed about what is happening with all the students in the classroom.
How can Google help in the Collaborative Classroom:
- Google Calendar: Keep track of Important events in the classroom.
- Google Slides/Forms: Create Presentations, Forms, even Breakout Sessions.
- Google Docs can be used to keep anecdotal notes on students and how the class is understanding an idea through the lessons.
Each teacher can have access to the students and can work with each group at different times and it can help differentiate in the Google Classroom.
Using Google Classroom and sharing responsibilities for all of the kids make the loads lighter for everyone and gives the kids more resources to use throughout the school day.
Collaboration can be an awesome experience in the classroom for both staff and students!!
Jessica Reed, MA,@KYgirlinAlabama
Jessica Reed is a special education teacher at Dade Middle School in Trenton, GA. She has been teaching for 11 years. Jessica’s undergraduate degree is in Elementary Education from the University of Kentucky. She has a masters in Collaborative teacher (6-12) from the University of ALabama. She is pursuing her EDS in Instructional Technology from Kennesaw State University and will graduate in August. She is Google Level 1 & 2 Certified and is working on becoming a Google Trainer. She is married to Robby and has one daughter, Elizabeth (23 Months). Follow her on Twitter: @KYgirlinAlabama