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The main argument of this article is that there is power in collaborative, co-teaching to help all students, including those with special needs, learn at their best.  The article also states that co-teaching empowers the teachers to teach at their best too.  This article describes the co-teaching model for 4th grade set up at Margaret A. Neary School in Southborough, Massachusetts.

  The school was facing a difficult situation with 20 incoming 4th graders having special needs and six other students needing separate instruction a large portion of the day for other significant disabilities.    The school budget and staffing were unable to accommodate a separate class for these six students.  That is a situation I have witnessed in schools where I have taught, but I found it very unique that the Margaret A. Neary School, through collaborative discussions with 4th-grade teachers, special education team and the principal, decided to create a collaborative co-teaching classroom.  The article states that the outcome was very positive after the first year.  Parents started the year skeptical but ended praising the level of learning, excitement about learning, and independence they saw in their child by the end of the year.

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 This article was very relevant to this week’s topic:  Classroom Communities.  It described an empowering classroom where everyone felt accepted and valued.  The classroom instruction was challenging, stimulating and enabled students to learn at their optimal levels no matter how diverse.  The article also clearly explained how pivotal the role teachers play in a successful, tandem teaching situation.  They must be good communicators, respect each other, have similar teaching philosophies, be willing to spend time planning together and be willing to drop their own ideas sometimes.

  They must develop and maintain a clear, consistent classroom structure with clear expectations.   The outcome for Margaret A. Neary School’s 4th grade has been very positive.  This classroom definitely sounds like a beautiful community.      I have not had the opportunity to co-teach during the past 25 years of teaching, but the idea intrigues me.  I did find this article very interesting and enlightening.  I would love to try tandem teaching some day, although it would need to be with the right colleague.  Until then, I plan on building a stronger classroom community with the students I am teaching this year.

  I already have a Morning Meeting similar to the one described in this article.  However, I plan on implementing the Extension Presentations I read about.  I love the idea of the freedom and flexibility this activity would give all my students.  I hope to make it open-ended and allow students to be creative in their presentation styles.  My students are naturally curious first graders and I strive to nurture them as life-long learners.  Extension Presentations would also be great opportunities to learn from their peers.

  

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