With the exception of last year, every one of my years in the classroom has involved co-teaching with the special education teacher(s).
In a nutshell, this means that one or more of my students are in special education and qualify for services. Since we advocate for the least restrictive environment for these students, most spend a majority of the day in the general education classroom with two teachers. I am the general education teacher while another teacher (the special education teacher) comes into my classroom to co-teach with me. This "push-in" model means that all my students benefit from having two teachers.
This means that two teachers can pull intervention groups. This means that one teacher can lead the lesson while the other pulls individuals or groups for remediation or extension (because this is sadly often overlooked). This means that one teacher can deal with behavior issues privately in the hallway while the other continues instruction, so the rest of the class doesn't lose out on instruction time.
There can be challenges in terms of planning and sharing responsibilities, but open communication and a shared sense of ownership (these are our students) goes a long way. One of the biggest challenges can be IEP meetings, which are held yearly to update families on their child's progress at meeting individual education goals. These meetings can be very difficult for parents, especially when they don't realize how much their child is struggling. Tissues are always available and readily used. I've been fortunate enough to have some amazing parents that know their child has educational struggles and are happy to work with the school to provide what's best for the child. I've also been in situations where parents are in denial, blame educators, and threaten to sue me in the middle of meetings...but these parents are few and far between (thank goodness!).
Of all the things that randomly appear in my Facebook news feed, this one really hit home:
I'd love to start every single meeting with parents this way. Yes, every single one. This may be posted outside my door during parent teacher conferences and brought up in future IEP meetings.
This business of educating little ones is hard work, but so rewarding.