Co -teaching partnerships in inclusion classrooms: Comparative case studies from a suburban comprehensive high school

Michele D Hassall, University of Pennsylvania


Teachers are regularly expected to adapt to "top down" educational reform programs and legislative edicts. Federal mandates such as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) have given increased impetus to "inclusion classrooms" that main-stream special education students in team-taught classes. Yet many teachers are thrust into inclusion teaching settings with little or no training or preparation, and administrative constraints rarely account for different teaching philosophies, teaching styles, or personal temperaments. The lack of a study that attends to the consequences of how co-teachers are selected for their partnerships constitutes a conspicuous gap in the research literature on co-teaching, and co-teaching in inclusion classrooms in particular. As a starting point toward filling this gap, the present study compares the dynamics of an inclusion classroom in which the co-teachers were self-selected on the basis of shared goals and expectations for teaching and learning, with a classroom in which the co-teachers were assigned on the basis of an administrative scheduling convenience. For the period of one academic year, 2005-2006, two co-teaching partnerships were studied in a large comprehensive high school located in a suburban Northeastern school district. Based on multiple interviews with the teachers throughout the years and bimonthly observations of their classrooms, the study gives particular attention to the planning and construction of each co-teaching relationship and to the factors that facilitated or impeded the relationship, including emergent tensions and how they were addressed. The findings are suggestive for policies that mandate changes in teachers' work culture. They also speak to the limits of "top down" educational reform, in this case federal mandates that wind downward through school district to classrooms.

Subject Area

School administration|Secondary education|Curricula|Teaching

Recommended Citation

Hassall, Michele D, "Co -teaching partnerships in inclusion classrooms: Comparative case studies from a suburban comprehensive high school" (2007). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3255878.