Source: Teacher education Quarterly, 2013
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
This study aimed to determine the attitudes of pre-service teachers toward co-teaching and inclusion. It also explored the impact of the systematic approach on participating teacher candidates’ knowledge, skills, and attitudes toward co-teaching.
The participants were 120 middle school pre-service teachers, who registered in the methods block.
The authors used a systematic approach, which included content area methods courses, a classroom management course, and a field experience course requiring a minimum of 135 hours of clinical experience in a local public middle school.
The authors collected data through artifacts from participants’ completed activities—K-W-C charts, think-pair-share activity documents, reading logs based upon the two peer-reviewed journal articles, and the 3-5 page written reflections. The authors also conducted the middle school co-teaching classroom observation and the interview of co-teaching professionals.
Discussion and Implications
The authors argue that their approach combines faculty co-teaching of pre-service classes with seminar and field experiences to develop a specific knowledge base and skill set around collaboration and co-teaching.
They argue that prior to the initiation of their systematic instructional approach, most of the pre-service middle grades teachers did not see teaching students with disabilities as their responsibility. The authors feel that this attitude viewed special education content as specialized pedagogical content knowledge, a separate sphere of knowledge that only special education teachers could access. They feel that their approach was effective in breaking down these perceived barriers due to the intentional design of the curriculum that emphasized a common language and understanding of collaboration and co-teaching as well as its co-taught delivery across all content areas.
The authors argue that the co-teaching done by the faculty ultimately provided a model for prospective content teachers to incorporate into their repertoire of skills.
They claim that it is important for teacher educators to acknowledge, identify, and intentionally address the concerns of preservice teachers as an integral part of the instructional program. These results suggest that with exposure to such a program, the feelings of teacher candidates’ self-efficacy improves as does confidence in their ability to positively impact the performance of students with disabilities.
Finally, these results indicate that curriculum development must consider and respect the developmental trajectory of pre-service teachers such that their learning is meaningful and deep. In order for pre-service middle grades teachers to understand the realities of co-teaching they must have multiple opportunities to study, discuss, reflect, and apply the principles of co-teaching and collaboration.