The objectives of this presentation are:
1. Define team-teaching
2. Define teachers’ roles
3. Outline benefits for schools, students, and teachers;
4. Potential challenges for schools;
5. Importance of Co-planning/Model
Meeting the needs of students
with special educational
needs through team teaching.
Assistant National Co-ordinator
Special Education Support Service (SESS)
Rationale for teacher collaboration
Guiding principles of teacher
collaboration in the form of team-
Define team-teaching ;
Define teachers’ roles
Outline benefits for schools, students
Potential challenges for schools;
Importance of Co-planning/Model
Rationale for teacher
‘ Collaborative approaches to educating
learners with special educational needs
are becoming increasingly embedded in
educational systems around the world.
Although many aspects of collaboration
are still to be researched there is sufficient
empirical evidence in support of its
underlying philosophy to justify its
implementation’. D. Mitchell. (2008)
The Guidelines on the provision of
special education at post primary level
(2007) and the N.C.C.A. documents on
the same topic (2006) recommend the
provision of support within the regular
1970s: shared areas
DES Circular 24/03: “wherever possible, schools
should provide additional help for children in the
EPSEN 2004: inclusion wherever possible, with
DES Circular 02/05: Co-teaching specifically
recommended as inclusive model
Placing students with SEN in
‘children with special needs cannot simply be
placed in mainstream settings in the hope
that normality will rub off on them’ Mc Namara and
Schools have to prepare
The employment of team-teaching takes the
stigma away from any one student and
provides a better learning and teaching
environment for all.
PROS of placing students with
SEN in mainstream classes
All children learn from each other
-Typical children become more accepting of
Acquire leadership skills/empathetic
exposure to a variety of teaching styles
-SEN students have role-models
Can be cost effective
Natural Environment-world is inclusive
Team teaching occurs when two or
more teachers jointly deliver
instruction to a diverse group of
students in a single physical space.
(Cook and Friend,1995: 1)
Teachers share responsibility for planning
Teachers work collaboratively on
delivering content, developing skills,
clarifying information, facilitating learning
and classroom management
Requires mutual trust, respect and
empathy between teachers.
Strengths of team-teaching at Post-
Helpful academically, but not a substitution for
any necessary modifications/accommodations
Raises issue of inclusion amongst general
Offers a less fragmented education
All pupils have equal access to the curriculum
Teachers need to volunteer and agree to team-
Attention needs to be given to planning to
enable desired learning outcomes for all
students to be achieved
Continuity of scheduling
Careful timetabling in advance
Flexibility of teachers involved – compatibility
Common approach to discipline
Guiding Principles for team-
Teachers who are comfortable taking the
initiative, self confident in their knowledge
and in their abilities and who are committed
to their profession fare well in this
There needs to be some compatibility of the
team-members educational philosophies and
The teachers need to develop a working
friendship but do not need to become
Personal Attributes for team
To be trustworthy
To have a flexible, friendly personality
To be able to create a positive
atmosphere in the classroom
To be able to negotiate
To have a good personal attitude and
positive self esteem
Personal attributes II
To have a sense of humour
To be able to promote equality and sharing
To be a facilitator, rather than an instructor
To have a dedication and a commitment to
the job of teaching
To be willing to try and learn new things
To have a child-centred, or a curriculum-
centred philosophy of teaching
It need not be an “all-or-nothing”
Teachers do not have to commit to only team-
teaching as an approach;
Team-teaching is not the only option for meeting
the needs of SEN students;
Team-teaching may not be appropriate in some
SEN students will typically be in a team-teaching
classroom for only part of the day.
What are the benefits for
1. Allows for greater inclusion of SEN students in the mainstream.
2. Allows for collaboration between all teachers.
3. Allows for the promotion of models of good practice.
4. Additional support is made available to a whole class group while
monitoring and supporting individual students.
5. Promotes a positive relationship between student and teacher(s)
6. Allows for modelling of positive behaviour in classrooms.
7. Allows teachers to differentiate programmes of work and support
initiatives within the school
What are the benefits for
1. Increased teacher time for the students due to 2 adults
working together either inside or outside the classroom.
2. Allows Target students to be grouped
3. Supports inclusion through access to the curriculum
without stigma of withdrawal.
4. Provides differentiated learning experiences for all
learning styles and abilities e.g. additional material etc.
5. Allows for greater variety – skills and modes of working.
What are the benefits for the
1. Allows for the Learning Support and Resource Teacher to deal with
larger numbers of pupils than if they were working solely on their
2. Avoids teacher isolation.
3. Provides opportunities for shared decisions.
4. Planning is supported because it it shared.
5. May be a rewarding experience.
6. Sharing of workload and materials to be produced.
7. Behavioural problems may be more easily diffused.
8. Sharing ‘good practice’ ideas.
• Not easy to maintain in schools
• Teachers may not work well together
• May be a disproportionate no. of SEN
students in co-operative taught
• SEN teachers can function as more of a
SNA than a co-teacher.
Teachers’ Reservations to team-
Specific subject knowledge
What happens when team teaching
doesn’t work ?
What do you do?
Collaboration on Curriculum
‘Moving the collaboration away from
teachers problems (where it often is)
to the curriculum has a positive
impact on classroom instruction and
generally improves the educational
(Montague and Warner, 2001)
What happens when team
teaching does not work ?
Have an agreed mechanism for ending
arrangements e.g. end of 1st term. This
avoids bad feelings, feelings of
Be non-judgemental, sensitive and
Problem usually between people rather
than within any 1 individual.
Take a professional approach
Final thoughts on what team-
teaching can offer?
Improve educational for the whole class;
Share the load of classroom management;
Provide specific expertise/knowledge to the
mainstream teacher from the specialist teacher;
Time can be devoted to modifying teaching
Facilitates the maintenance of detailed records
Builds trusting relationships between colleagues.
Bauwens, J., Hourcade, J.J. and Friend, M.M. (1989)
Cooperative Teaching: A model for General and special
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79 – 87
Department of Education (1976). ‘Co-operative teaching
in Irish Primary Schools’Government Publications.
Department of Education and Science (DES)
(2003),Circ.24/03: Allocation of Resources for Pupils with
Special Educational Needs in National Schools, Dublin:DES
Department of Education and Science (DES) (2005), Circ
02/05: Organising of Teaching Resources for Pupils who
need Additional Support in Mainstream Primary Schools,
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Gately, S.E.,and Gately, F.J. (2001) Understanding co-
teaching components. Teaching Exceptional Children, 33 (4),
40 – 47
Hourcade, J.J. and Bauwens, J. (2002) Cooperative
Teaching: Rebuilding and Sharing the Schoolhouse. Second
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one in an inclusive classroom? Harvard Education Letter,
March/April 1999. Harvard Education Publishing.
Mitchell, D. (2008), What Really Works in Special & Inclusive
Education: Using Evidence Based Strategies,Routledge.
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Villa, R.A., Thousand, J.S. and Nevin, A. I. (2004) A
guide to co-teaching: Practical tips for facilitating student
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SESS Contact Details
Special Education Support Service
C/o Cork Education Support Centre
E-mail: [email protected]
Web address: www.sess.ie