Friends, I am having a rough year.
Those of you who followed my exploits last year -- or, for Pete's sake, since I began teaching three years ago -- may be throwing your hands up and thinking, "Seriously, Miss Brave, again?" Last year, alone in a classroom full of maniacs, all I wanted was for another adult to join forces with me to stop the madness. That's why I was so eager to teach in a CTT classroom at my new school. Now I'm...not alone in a classroom full of maniacs, and all I want is for my co-teacher to disappear.
I haven't blogged about it because I'm still not quite clear on when it all started to go downhill. I know that I come from a school where, by necessity, we ran a pretty tight ship on time management of our lessons. Because we had many push-in teachers for various subjects, if math was supposed to end at 9:37, math had to end at 9:37. I got a little frustrated with Ms. Halpert when it was 9:37 and she was still working with one student instead of transitioning to our next activity. But I never said anything to her about it, and that was my mistake.
The year progressed. I started to leave school a little earlier at the end of each day, and Ms. Halpert (who is a first-year teacher) continued to stay late. As it turns out, she was becoming more and more resentful of the fact that I wasn't there with her. But she never said anything to me about it, and that was her mistake.
Meanwhile, both of us became increasingly fed up with trying to plan with each other; I tend to over-estimate students' capabilities, and Ms. Halpert tends to want to over-scaffold them. But neither of us said anything to each other about it...and that was our mistake.
It all came to a head during a grade-wide writing planning session in which Ms. Halpert sat with her back to me (not very "turn and talk to your partner"-like behavior) and an extremely tense and awkward vibe seethed in the air. The next day, our principal asked to speak with us individually; Ms. Halpert went first. I don't know exactly what was said at that meeting, but it was alarming enough that my principal told me he thought he might have to take one of us out of our classroom mid-year.
Eventually we agreed we would salvage our partnership through the end of the year. (We also privately agreed that we did not want to work together again next year.) But that decision has opened up a whole new world of work for both of us. In the process of transforming the layout of our classroom (again -- having 28 students and two meeting areas makes for an extremely cramped classroom space), I got whacked in the ankle with a heavy table leg. It hurt. We've been asked to work with the literacy coach and the math coach, which naturally makes us feel scrutinized. To add insult to injury, the literacy coach (who has never watched either of us teach a lesson) has been bringing us to other classrooms to observe the "structure of the mini lesson," which is something we both know we can recite in our sleep. Ms. Halpert was a student at Teachers College; I was a reading teacher for a full year. Both of us know how to teach a mini lesson; what we don't know is how to navigate each other.
We agreed to try to do it, but it's a long, hard slog through the bleak, dark days of January, and what awaits us now doesn't seem all that rewarding. Some days it makes me question my commitment to teaching altogether. Other days, I just want to make it all the way to June.
Hang in there! I can't imagine having another teacher in my classroom. My best friend teaches 1st grade and is trying to get me to come to her school next year to join forces. I fear that we wouldn't be able to work together.
At least you gave it a shot, and maybe this situation could work out well with another teacher who is more similar to you.
I know I couldn't team teach either! Having someone else in the room all day long would drive me insane. And then trying to plan everything together? Nope. How do you divide up the teaching? Is one person more responsible for a subject?
I had a teaching partner who was awful. She criticized me to the kids and vied to be the favorite of the students. The list of the selfish things she did was long. (I'm sure her list of the irritating things I did was equally long.) Finally, we both realized that we had no choice but to work together and that our own behavior and responses were making us miserable. I went to her and said, "Let's agree not to have another year like this one." We didn't discuss what the problems were- we knew. The next year we got along. She didn't stop doing all of the things that made me crazy, but she did stop the worst ones. I chose not to talk about them endlessly at home, not to gripe about her to my friends, and not to think about anything she did that bothered me for more than a fleeting moment. It was a good year and then I moved out of state. I still don't respect many things about her and I would never want to work with her again, but you can choose not to be driven crazy by someone. Your colleagues and supervisor will respect you for finding a way to make this work.
bummer, sorry to hear about this, hope things get better.
I co-teach pretty much all day. At first it was an adjustment getting used to playing off of someone else, but I think the most important thing is to try and keep the line of communication open. I'm sorry to hear you've had a hard time so far this year!
It's not too late to set some ground rules for communication and stuff like time management, is it? Because it seems like that's where the core of the issues lies.
I co-teach with two excellent teachers, one in ELA-R and one in U.S. History. Despite the fact that we respect and like each other, I know they both wish I would vanish. I hate every moment of co-teaching. The preparation is three times as great. The modifications are essential and there is no time to refine them if the lead teacher's plans change. It's double work for them as well. I have four resource classes, 2 for 7th grade ELA-R and 2 for 8th grade ELA-R. I feel that I neglect them. I am at school from 7:30 until 6 or later and every weekend. I am certified in both fields as well as special education. However, I feel like a second rate teacher who has second rate kids in the classroom. Inclusion is important, but there has to be a better way, for teachers and for students than co-teaching. I hope this experiment goes away fast!
Mary, inclusion IS important, but I feel it is sabotaged (unintentionally) when children are put in classrooms where they need substantial modification, every day, for every subject. That is just really hard to pull off. And the results are so seldom what we claim, because if a student needs modification all day every day (or even accomodations), the diploma they get doesn't indicate mastery. I think if we led with placing children in classrooms where their modification needs were minimal, or where they did not need modification except at assessment time, we would turn an impossible task in to a doable one.
Ugh. This sounds like a really difficult situation! I do hope that you two can do a 're-start' and figure out exactly what you need from the other, and then find a little more success as the year goes on. And god, can you just ignore the idiot literacy coach? Gah.
Anon--I totally agree. A kid who needs that much modification should NOT be in a mainstream classroom! That doesn't give much opportunity for success, if they can't do it on their own.
This is my first year teaching in NYC as well. When I was hired I was told I would be the SE teacher in CTT classroom. I, too, am having a difficult time of it. Much of my dilemma is that we never plan together. It seems that she can easily teach a lesson, though there is no plan book, no communication. I ask, and thankfully when I do, I get responses. But do I have to ask every day, week? In the beginning, people said, "You're so lucky. Having another seasoned teacher in the classroom." Maybe so, but I feel that we're two ships on different oceans.
This is my third year teaching. I teach phys ed with a parter who is less than excited about the job. I have used most of my sick and personal days all three years because of sickness or parents hospitalized and my co teacher is very hurtful to me about using these days.
Even when I try to accommodate him the situation it is hurtful and negative to the point I just dont want to go back in, especially if I am still feeling ill or my family is still sick. How do I deal with this?
By the way, I forgot to add my partner is a very nice human, just not one with whom I want to share a classroom of nearly fifty students. Being an English instructor, I try to keep my politics out of most discussions and lessons, thus letting the students discover, analyze, and discuss their differences in thought. Aren't I supposed to teach students how to think and not what to think? So I thought...silly me.
I co-teach with a complete jackass. We tried the whole communication thing but when his pull out his cell phone and ignore the work I am done . he sleep during the preps, im done with him. When he refuses to read the IEPs because he's not the SE teacher, DESPITE teaching him how to log onto sesis TWICE and printing all the IEPS, im done with him. When he refuses to learn the kids names, Im done with him. WHen he throws in my face the fact im not tenured and he is (its my 3rd year)Im done with him. WHen his lessonplans that I have to modify are basic toilet paper, im done. when he ignores the crap out of me and all the push ins, im done. When I have to re-teach everything because the first time was so bad NO ONE understood, i give up. So yeah some co-teachers suck. And before anyone says well what did you do, I got to school early and tried to sit with him but he is on the phone with his wife talking about bs, Or when I modified the lesson plans and he proceeded with the unmodified lesson. I bust my rear looking up various ways to teach a subject, from experiments to worksheets and my work gets ignored what else am I suppose to do when the APs say well how open are the communication lines. Oh my favorite line was "you are not my supervisor, and if Mr. AP says im fine then I dont have to change" I pray for june 27 to arrive quick
I found this... A year late.
I have had experiences in co-teaching from both sides: gen Ed and spEd. Further, my master's program focused on inclusion. After many years, I can only say it works sometimes and other times it is a nightmare. I just finished a bad year with a sp Ed teacher who often did not come to class, did not work with the students, sat at the back on her phone, and carried tales about me to another teacher and my AP. There was nothing I could do. She smiled to my face and stabbed me in the back. In the end, she made my life hell. I never want to co-teach again because it is not adequately provided for in training and co-planning in any of the schools where I have taught. I know there are good partnerships and I have been in them. But the damage that can be done by a bad relationship is all too prevalent. I hear it over and over - from gen Ed teachers especially.
Coteaching is a nightmare. I absolutely hate it. It is much more work than teaching by yourself. The special ed teacher in my classroom wants to be equal in decision making and leading lessons but she wants me to do all of the lesson preparation and curriculum planning. She wants to load extra work on me with not required lesson ideas. I told her I will not take on the extra work but she is welcome to if she wants it so bad. But no, she wants me to do the work for her then she wants to "jump into" lessons to teach whenever she feels like it. She screams at the students. She interrupts me talking to start screaming. I feel like I am trapped in hell. I want to quit teaching rather than spend another day like this. Oh, yeah, and she wants to argue interminably about lesson plans. Fine for her. She is not the one who has to stay up all night making lessons after hours of discussion about them. This is pure hell. I now hate her, hate the school, hate teaching. All those studies saying how wonderful coteaching is must be pure lies made up by lying liars.
Stop your whining. We co-teachers HATE coming in your room too, but it's our job so we suck it up. We have degrees just like the gen ed teachers, but when the law changed, and full inclusion became the norm, we suffered way more than you......trust me.
You have photos of your family in your room, your name on the door, your desk, your posters, your cutesy stuff you got from Pinterest.........meanwhile, we come in like refugees to tiptoe around YOUR everything, with nothing there to give us or the kids any indications that we are just as much teachers as you are. You treat us like assistants, give us attitude and act like we are trying to criticize your every teacher move. We are doing our jobs, and that's ensuring that ALL kids with disabilities can access the curriculum, which they have a right too. Would you tell a blind child they can't be in your room unless they can see?????
Deal with it. It is called civil rights. This is not Nazi Germany, so get over your ideals that SPED , and their teachers, don't belong in your room.
General ed teachers that complain about co-teaching remind me of how the Little Rock students felt the first day they showed up to public school, to exercise their rights, and were met with hate. You should be ashamed. Get with the times. Get over your prejudices and judgements. I am sorry you don't feel confident enough in your abilities to teach ALL students. I have had several gen ed co-teachers who were wonderful, because they were such excellent teachers, you could not tell who were the special kids, and which one of us were the special ed teacher. Be the change you want to see.
All students deserve equal and appropriate access to an education with their peers. I am sorry you would like to take kids and put them in a room off by themselves to teach them, because of their disability. That is discrimination. Would we take all the kids of one religion, race, gender, etc. and put them off by themselves because you couldn't "relate" to them. Stop being so selfish.
Co-teaching may be a challenge, but thank your lucky stars you are healthy and able to do what you do. Your own child , or you even, could have been born in a totally different circumstance. Students with IEP's don't get to choose that when they enter school. If you can't teach all kids, don't be a teacher.
Hi Deena! You must be really steamed to comment on this post from 5 years ago! Unfortunately, you seem to have completely missed the point. We were CO-teachers, as in we TEAM TAUGHT, so it wasn't like it was my classroom and she was just coming in. Of course she had every right to be there; it was her classroom too. As a Jewish person, I'm pretty insulted that you jumped right to Nazi Germany. Nowhere did I ever say that my co-teacher didn't belong in my room (see above re: co-teaching/team teaching). She was actually a wonderful teacher whom I had difficulty meshing with and that's what I was "whining" about in my post, not her teaching abilities. In fact, if you read back you'll see I was really excited about the opportunity to team teach.
Anyway, reading your comment made me pretty happy I'm not teaching anymore, because you sound pretty miserable! Sorry you hate going int other people's classrooms so much! Have a great summer!
I wish I was here earlier. Thank you to all those who said you couldn't co-teach either. I was just thrown in it. I HATE it! Imagine putting two females in one house where they were suppose to be equal partners. Never works!!!! This is all political CRAP! Parents started shouting because they wanted their children mainstreamed since they have a difficult time accepting their child's differences. Now, my once we'll run classroom where I could freely and easily evaluate, accomodate, and communicate while forming a bond with my students has disappeared. All of this due to someone's new fat idea! What to do! 26 years of teaching! Sorry Venting! Tough - very tough!
Deena, I am venting! Rachel, your response was wonderful! I am a day late and a dollar short! But, I need to get it out because I want so badly to go in and hand in my resignation! Team teaching is for the birds! I am the one planning from 4:30 to 11:30 at night only for the special Ed. Teacher to thumb her nose up at my plans. She brings absolutely no modifications to the table. She said, "you already have them built in!" Give me a break. She makes same salary only to come in a walk around the room and visit with the small groups to add a word or two. No - this is enough! Once voted as teacher of the year. Ready to hang it up! Got to find a way so I can protect my health. Hours are too much with all the accomdations that have to be made on top of trying to meet the needs of 20 general Ed. Students. Frustrated to the max!!!!
I feel you. I have almost EXACTLY the same experience with MY co-teacher who sounds VERY similar to yours except we teach high school science. I've had to reach out to colleagues about how to work with her but so far none of the administrator have a clue because I've been keeping my mouth shut, but I can't WAIT until next year! Everytime I ask for input she works on something else and has nothing to add. Essentially I plan the lesson and she "differentiates it" which basically mean she explicitly writes in the mods that I have already planned. She rarely has anything to add to the plan even though I ask her constantly and frequently suggest that SHE plan the lesson so that she feels like she has a say. Funny thing though, you ahve to actually speak up to SAY something which she never does!
This cracks me up! I HATE coteaching so much! I am sped teacher ( I am regular ed certified, but didn't find a job as fast I needed, so went sped). I thought I would be a teacher, instead I am glorified para and SO bored. Some teachers want me to be the tough cell phone monitor (then won't back me up), others want me to coteach lessons, others want me to just stay in the back and work with the students who need work. I don't have a classroom, I only get to "teach" two classes a day (and I LOVE lesson planning), and it's a shared classroom, so no cutesy stuff for me. Then I have a crushing amount of paperwork and data collection (I am supposed to be collecting data, teaching, and monitoring behavior in the coteaching class, too. Come on). It is never done. We all sit around and gripe in our shared office space and I just wish I could go back to elementary. The work isn't super challenging there, but at least I had my own room. And there is no common planning time, and I don't have time to meet with teachers because of IEP writes and rewrites. Anyway, just dreading August already!
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