Committing, engaging and negotiating: Stories of how teachers create shared spaces for co-teaching

Anna Rytivaara, Catriona Louise De Bruin, Jonna Pulkkinnen

    Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


    For decades there has been considerable interest in collaborative teaching practices such as co-teaching. Since the international movement towards making schooling more inclusive for all, co-teaching been identified as one means of achieving this goal (UNESCO, 1994). While inclusion is generally understood as relating to the diverse learning needs of all students who may experience barriers in their learning (Deppeler, Forlin, Chambers, Sharma & Loreman, 2014; Florian & Spratt, 2013), research on co-teaching in relation to inclusion has tended to focus almost exclusively on students with disabilities and to define co-teaching as the pairing of an “expert” in general curriculum content with an “expert” in special educational practices for students with disabilities (Murawski & Swanston, 2001; Scruggs, Mastropieri & McDuffie, 2007; Shin, Lee & McKenna, 2016). This literature generally positions co-teaching as something that is done to others, and explores the effectiveness of co-teaching as an intervention for specific outcomes such as the school attendance or achievement of students with disabilities (Dieker & Murawski, 2003; Hattie, 2008; Solis, Vaughn, Swanson & Mcculley, 2012;), or the technical execution of co-teaching such as teacher preferences and frequency of engagement with specific models of practice (Saloviita & Takala, 2010; Takala, Pirttimaa & Törmänen, 2009).By contrast, the wider literature on co-teaching focuses more on aspects of this practice as teacher professionalism. These works tend to explore the role of co-teaching in relation to teachers’ work, such as developing the skills of pre-service teachers (Kerin & Murphy, 2015; Roth & Tobin, 2001), or developing professional practices such as teacher reflection and professional learning (Gallo-Fox & Scantlebury, 2016; Rytivaara & Kershner, 2012). These approaches conceptualise co-teaching as teachers work that is done together to create a supportive environment for all, with benefits for all students and also the teachers themselves. While there exists some literature that considers the benefits of co-teaching for both students and teachers, such as that of Shaffer and Thomas-Brown (2015) these tend to remain focused on students with disabilities.In this paper we thus seek to explore the practice of co-teaching in inclusive classrooms in Finland by considering teaching teams that include traditional pairings of special-regular teachers as well as others, and exploring how these were supportive for all. We use the Inclusive Pedagogical Approach in Action framework (IPAA) (Florian, 2014; Florian & Spratt, 2013) as a means of theorising our study, as the framework provides useful principles of good inclusive teaching practice for supporting all learners and for supporting effective teacher collaboration in the classroom. Our findings draw from a co-teaching study in which teachers worked together to better support the unique needs of all the students in their classrooms and to also support each other. The teaching teams comprised many pairings that included special education-regular education partnerships as well as others such early childhood and primary teams, and general education teams. Focussing on the nature and development of teacher partnerships we explore how successful co-teaching develops through teachers’ commitment and engagement in such collaborative professional practice. Our research questions are as follows: How do the teachers describe their co-teaching experiences? How do the teachers narrate the development of successful collaboration?
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - 2018
    EventEuropean Conference on Educational Research 2017 - University College UCC, Campus Carlsberg, Copenhagen, Denmark
    Duration: 21 Aug 201725 Aug 2017


    ConferenceEuropean Conference on Educational Research 2017
    Abbreviated titleECER 2017
    City Copenhagen
    Internet address

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