Tuesday, March 04, 2008

New Comment on an Old Post

Below is a comment I received yesterday on a post that was written in May of 2007. We seem to be having a new discussion around our model of inclusion. Venting frustrations can be healthy, but more importantly offering solutions is really the only true way to overcome adversity.

The comment reads:

"As a CTT teacher, I absolutely feel this model is not working. It could work, in theory, but not the way things are set up now. Being forced to stand up in front of a class and embarrass yourself teaching content you don't know just to put on a show that you're standing in front of the room is stupid, frankly, and benefiting no one- not the students, not the CTT teacher, and not the general ed teacher who will have to reteach the lesson the next day, anyway. Steamrolling your CTT teacher into doing what the general ed teacher wants, whether it be either extreme- ignoring them and not planing with them, or handing them a lesson that you wrote and wondering why they can't posibly teach it is not exaclty what 'relationship' building is all about. If you have never taught special ed, please do not read theory and a manuel and then feel you are an expert and able to give advice and instruction to CTT teachers. Go teach a CTT class. Then you might have even a fraction of an insight as to what you're talking about. "

How might we help our distressed colleague through this situation? What are teachers supposed to be doing in a CTT model classroom?


Anonymous said...

I feel a little taken aback by the comment. Forgive me if I'm wrong but doesn't CTT stand for collaborative team teaching and by definition this means that the general educator and the special educator both work together to teach the material? Is it wrong that I expect my CTT to have an active part in each lesson? Granted, depending on her comfort level with the material, she may just be reviewing the homework or going over the mind warmer but at least she's playing an active role in the students' learning. She also makes it a priority to understand the material so she can better explain and illustrate the concepts. The relationship between the general educator and the special educator is one that is built over time and is a give and take on both parts. I believe that the model that is in place with my CTT is working very well. An understanding and trust has been built but that could not have been forged if either one of us didn't play our part. I would personally be annoyed if my CTT did not want to lesson plan with me or want to be considered an equal partner in the teaching of our class. Isn't that the idea? Kind of like two teachers for the price of one? But what good is a CTT if they are not teaching? And if they are not teaching, what are they doing??

Anonymous said...

Just to comment on the idea of not being comfortable with the material...we need to remember this when we expect our students to successfully master all of these different subjects. It is not an easy task.

As for the role of the CTT teacher, I don't think we can talk about that except in general parameters. The situation will likely change depending on the gen ed teacher, the SETTS provider, the subject, and the students.

I'm interested in the comment that the CTT model is not working. For whom (teachers, kids?) and how do we know it's not working (unhappy people, student progress)?

As for the comment about offering solutions...communication between the two teachers is key-- discussion of expectations, what's working and what's not, planning time (even if it's over email), tolerance of another teacher's different style, sharing the workload.

On the topic of sharing the workload, while we need to remember that our CT teachers have a hand in several classrooms, they need to help with some of the grading. Not only does the burden of that feel more shared and help the relationship, but it also gives the CT teacher assessment info necessary to help with the planning. When Carmela grades half of our class papers, she can say to me we need to re-teach paragraphing or something like that based on her looking at student work. In this way, she naturally becomes a part of the planning process.


Anonymous said...


If the model isn't working, what are the alternatives?


Anonymous said...

I do not usually comment on this "blog site," however, I am sitting here with a great amount of discomfort! After reading the "New Comment on an Old Post" I was deeply saddened. Obviously, the person writing this comment is/was experiencing a certain amount of pain and discomfort about a situation that he/she may be currently experiencing. CTT, or "collaborative team teaching," is only as effective as the inner workings and/or dynamics of the two educators who are "collaborating." I took it upon myself to refer to the Webster's Dictionary definition of "collaborate." What I read was quiet interesting..."1: to work jointly with others (as in writing a book) 2: to cooperate with an enemy force occupying one's country" How interesting is that? I thought to myself "Perhaps we need to call this "CTT thing" something else. I looked up the definition of "cooperative." I, also, found this definition enlightening...."1: willing to work with others...." Perhaps we need to refer to CTT as "Cooperative Team Teaching." ....There are several "models" of CTT. We have had endless PDs concerning this. What is truly important to note is that we are in the classroom to "complement" each other's abilities and talents. Our main concern is the education of all of our students. General educators bring a wealth of knowledge about their particular subject area. Special educators bring expertise and insight into the varying learning styles of students. We are "diagnosticians" when it comes to how to most effectively help a student to learn. There must be mutual respect and open and effective communication between the gen. educator and the special educator. These relationships, sometimes, take years to develop. There can be a lot of "growing pains" involved. We constantly refer to CTT as a "marriage." Without going into the inner workings of an effective and healthy marriage, we must honor and respect that, even in the healthiest of relationships, each "partner" has strengths and needs. It makes perfect sense to view the CTT relationship similarly. Depending on the teachers and the subject matter involved, the gen. ed. teacher and the special ed. teacher can work TOGETHER to best utilize the strengths of each educator. involved. A special educator need not feel "steamrolled" into anything, for if it is truly a cooperative relationship that would not happen. Mutual respect and honoring the "comfort level" of each educator is key. CTT will continue to be a "hot topic" in education. We are an "inclusive" school. CTT is here to stay. ..."Why don't we all just try to get along?" ....What I have expressed comes from my heart and from many years of being a special educator. As educators, we need to continue to grow as individuals and as professionals. Please remember that each one of us is human. We all must have our hearts in the right place.

Anonymous said...

I'm not ready to say that CTT is not working. There are many CTT models, but the model we have chosen to embrace calls for seamless co-teaching between general and special educators. We (the royal "we" - I am not involved in CTT) are relatively new to the

Anonymous said...

I would not say that CTT isn't working; people are at different levels in their progress. We need to remember that many CTT teachers are teaching outside of their own academic expertise and experience. One CTT teacher generally has three core classes to co-teach in addition to responsibilities for a resource class, IEP preparation, record keeping, coordination of services, parent contact, etc.

It may be unrealistic to expect that person to immediately develop a strong understanding of the material - this will take a little time and practice.

Hopefully, the general education and special education teacher can find mutual time for planning and can develop the trust needed to be truely collaborative. That doesn't just mean teaching the material together; it means respecting and supporting each other while working toward a common goal.

This is a fairly new process to us. It will take some time to reach a level where we really feel as though our teaching is seamless and collaborative. That will take patience, planning, and mutual understanding.
Mary Ann

Anonymous said...

CTT is more than a mere "theory," it is a way of thinking. If general education teachers do not believe in the model it will NEVER work. It is as stated "collaborative." If you do not believe in this you should not be teaching at QHST, an inclusive school. The emphasis needs to stop continuously being put on what the special educator is doing wrong. The general educators need to be the target of a new evaluation. Where are they falling short of communication, collaboration and "Team Teaching." I can guarantee you that it is not the lack of the special educators wanting for team planning that causes these teaching issues.

Anonymous said...

As a CT teacher I feel compelled to comment. I think what we must first do is admit there is no perfect CTT model. It takes much time, planning, preparing, and learning of content in order to be effective. If anyone ever feels embarrassed or stupid when standing in front of a class, they may want to consider a new profession. Despite how much or how little is known about a particular content area, we still know more than the students (in most cases). If I am ever before a class and do not understand the content, I am willing to admit it to myself and prepare a lesson that is more inquiry based. I allow for the students, as well as myself, to explore the topic as I observe, take notes and learn.
We as CT teachers were hired to be learning experts. Yes, it is difficult to be an expert in all subject areas; however, we have an administration who is willing to assist by helping us to create a system that is best fit for our students. Instead of criticizing the current model I have found it necessary to do all that I can to learn as much as I can about what I am required to co-teach. We are lifelong learners. When I was hired, I knew I was in for a challenge and up for it.
As the DOE pushes to discontinue many high school level self-contained classes and schools, we will begin to see more CTT and inclusion. The struggle for success as both CTT and Gen-ed teachers requires respect first! If the current model is not working, come to some of the special educator's meetings and make suggestions on how we all can help one another. Creating negative blogs widens the gap between the CTT and Gen-ed relationship. It was a disappointment to read the anonymous blog; and an even bigger disappointment to see someone address their frustration and cause chaos in a community, instead of admitting they may possibly lack confidence and addressing those who are at the root of their frustration.

Nikki Carter

Anonymous said...

I think that CTT really can work, but there are alot of prerequisites and both have to want to put in the effort. I don't think it has to do with lack of confidence, because many gened teachers feel unsure about what to do with kids with disabilities, which is what the "content" of the special educator is.

The hardest thing is that CTT requires critical self reflection, and that it is difficult for people to change.

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acai Berry said...

t makes perfect sense to view the CTT relationship similarly.
Acai Berry

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