Educators Look at Standards for Co-Teaching; since Duval Schools Hope to Continue the Practice, Guidelines Are Seen as a Key

Article excerpt

Byline: TIA MITCHELL

Duval County educators who co-teach are being asked to come up with ways to regulate co-teaching next school year.

There are no uniform standards outlining how co-teaching is used, which means the practice varies among schools. School and teachers union officials said creating guidelines will provide a framework for co-teaching while still allowing schools flexibility to meet their various needs.

Duval County uses co-teaching more than any other Florida county, and about 1,500 of the school system's 7,850 educators co-teach at some point during the day. Its use has grown as the county works to meet voter-mandated class size reduction requirements. Even though the state Board of Education has said co-teaching cannot be used to meet the Class Size Amendment, school system officials say they have no other choice and hope that those restrictions will be eased for next school year.

Co-teaching is defined as having two certified teachers assigned to the same group of students for at least one period of the day.

Supporters of co-teaching say it also can be used to allow a new teacher to gain experience by pairing with a veteran. Co-teaching also has led to more special education students being placed in classrooms with standard students.

However, some local critics have emerged. Some teachers complain of being assigned too many students or too small a classroom for co-teaching. Other say they were forced to co-teach and there are stories of personality conflicts that have emerged.

That is why Monday's meeting, sponsored by Duval Teachers United, was called. Every teacher in the county who co-teaches was invited, but the turnout was much smaller.

About 20 teachers representing 18 elementary schools met with union and school officials to discuss their experiences and the future of co-teaching.

One teacher said her school is creating classrooms in spaces that are inappropriate, such as storage rooms and a stage adjacent to the cafeteria. …