Monday, March 11, 2013

Sheila Hairston Reeves' dissertation on, "Co-Teacher Perceptions of Improving Practices for Middle School Students with Disabilities"

Sheila Hairston Reeves, Fielding’s School of Educational Leadership & Change

It is extremely important that the general and special education teachers work collaboratively as co-teachers to benefit the students (Kloo & Zigmond, 2008). The purpose of this study is to interview teachers with co-teaching experiences to determine their perceptions of effective activities by type of teacher. The theoretical framework includes Spillane’s (2005) distributive leadership emphasizing “leadership practices” and” leader plus”. Bandura (1993) notes that teacher efficacy begins with “self-efficacy” and “self-concept.” Harris & Muijs (2005) position is that the teacher leader is a “constructive approach” and based on teachers “sharing knowledge.” This study was a phenomenological mixed methods study. This study used a convenience sample of co-teachers from three metropolitan middle schools. Initial surveys were distributed through Survey Monkey to 42 teachers, of whom 38 replied. Data were compiled into frequency tables to determine total responses and into cross tabulated tables by type of teacher to determine group responses and to compute levels of association of perceptions (of strengths, challenges, practices, and preferred solutions) using chi square.

A focus group session was held with five co-teachers from the three schools (one set from each) to discuss the results of the responses from the survey so as to gain further insight into the co-teacher experience.

The co-teacher perceptions of highly qualified, type of teacher, practices, experiences, strengths, challenges, and recommendations were analyzed through collected surveys and focus group participation. The co-teacher perceptions of activities, strengths, challenges, and recommendations were compared for association by type of teacher (general and special education). No significant association by type of teacher was found for perceptions of strengths brought to the process, successful practices used, or challenges found. Perceptions by type of teacher were not found to be significantly associated.

Key words: co-teaching, teacher efficacy, highly qualified teachers, type of teacher special education, type of teacher general education

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