Co-teaching keeps all students included in more general classes through careful planning and a faculty committed to inclusion.
In one classroom at Sutton Elementary in Portland, fifth grade teacher Julia Pugh worked with her students on a writing assignment. As she moved about the room working with students on writing topic sentences and supporting details and conclusions, special education teacher Mandee Bish worked with a small group of students.
Previously, Bish’s students might have been in a separate classroom or a different school.
“All students belong and have a place in their grade level class,” Bish said. “The sense of community can’t be built in a vacuum.”
The instructional strategy used by Sutton and two other Portland schools is called co-teaching. Classrooms, students, and teaching duties are shared by teachers and specialists. The district is committed to inclusion of students who have difficulty with English or who have special needs.
Schools do not receive extra funding, but rather work with existing staff which includes language specialists, paraeducators, and special ed teachers.