Implementing Co-Teaching

school-class-401519_1920Across the nation, many districts have taken the initiative to transform their teaching methods. One of these new methods is co-teaching, wherein a general educator and a special educator who teach the same general curriculum put into action Individual Education Programs (IEPs) for students with disabilities. Before this implementation, students with disabilities were simply included in general education classes, but now with this new method, they will receive genuine opportunities to access and contribute to the curriculum. To provide these opportunities teachers will need to need to partner with another educator to plan, instruct and assess together.

Co-teaching will require your teachers to adapt their current teaching methods. Teachers will need learn to share the front of the room, teach in tandem, and carefully differentiate diverse learners. Make sure there is a clear definition of co-teaching understood across all levels including administrators, faculty, staff, parents and students. Provide examples of what co-teaching will look like and what will be involved so all parties are clear.

To maximize your resources, enlist the help of all your in-school expertise. If you need an outside opinion, then you should approach experts outside of your school and district. Once you have assessed the skills of your teachers, you should provide specialized professional development where you find necessary. Before you begin implementing co-teaching, ensure all of your teachers are familiar with the most common co-teaching methods including: one teach-one observe, one teach-one assist, teaming station teaching, alternative teaching and parallel teaching.

When planning a co-teaching curriculum, it is important you keep in mind the criteria necessary for fostering a genuine co-teaching environment. When creating a master schedule, start with the special education students. This will emphasize your effort in including them. Establish partnerships between a single general educator and a special educator. Co-teaching involves co-planning, co-instructing and co-assessing. Seeing more than one educator a day can make it difficult for a general educator to be co-plan with them. The last thing you want to do is burn out your educators. Make time for planning, you can do this by scheduling the same planning periods for your general educators and special educators.

Once you start partnering your general educators and special educators, gather their input to make beneficial pairings. Survey your teachers about their preferred teaching methods, skill sets, personal attributes and relationship dynamics. You can ask your teachers to volunteer and attempt to partner up on their own. Once you have volunteer partnerships, you can set-up a small pilot program to assess the co-teaching process. Set up fun events for teachers to interact with each other, like a small pizza party. This will help your teachers form their relationships naturally.

After partnerships have formed and co-teaching has begun, you will need to supervise and evaluate your teachers. Understand that many teachers are new to co-teaching and will need guidance. When you begin assessing co-teaching partners, be sure you understand the co-teaching principles and strategies, as well as the best practices of teaching. Observe your teachers together, as a partnership, instead of individually. Co-teaching is collaborative, and the evaluation process should reflect this. Setting up a co-teaching system isn’t a set task, it will require development over time. To ensure you do the best for your students and your teachers, gather input from parents, teachers, and students, to make sure no one is left out.

To read more about co-teaching, click here.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Awards Grants for Teacher Preparation


Philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates are recognized for their altruistic dedication to supporting many causes. Their work extends to international communities, where they focus on health, poverty and hunger. At the national level, one of the many causes they support is education. For the past 15 years, Bill and Melinda Gates have donated millions of dollar to improving education in grade schools, and preparing students for college. Earlier this month, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced their newest academic awards. These new grants will focus on teacher preparation. They will be giving almost $35 million over the next three years to newly established Teacher Preparation Transformation Centers. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation says these centers, “will bring together higher education institutions, teacher-preparation providers and K-12 school systems to share data, knowledge and best practices” and “develop, pilot and scale effective teacher-preparation practices to help ensure that more teacher-candidates graduate ready to improve student outcomes in K-12 public schools.”

Each organization selected to represent a Transformation Center will share the same “indicators and outcomes,” but will independently study different approaches within their own unique environment to analyze which teaching methods are most effective. These intensive programs hope to improve teacher preparation, which could improve student outcomes at K-12 public schools. The foundation has awarded grants to the following:

1. Elevate Preparation, Impact Children (EPIC), a new program by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education will work with the state’s 71 teacher preparation programs. The Massachusetts Department of Education stated their goals are to, “Deepen the quality of and extend teacher candidates’ training in the field, promote and support data-driven analysis of graduates’ outcomes so that education preparation providers have the information they need for continuous improvement, and integrate the efforts of educator preparation providers and partners to meet the increasing demand for high-quality, diverse educators.”

2. The National Center for Teacher Residencies (NCTR) will collaborate with more than 30 residency programs to prepare 2,500 new teachers for schools with high needs. The center will also function as a research laboratory for, “identifying, testing,  and   scaling   best practices   for   clinically based  preparation.” This goal of this research is to,
– “Refine  provider  programming  to  be  competency based  and  clinically focused;
– Collect  and  use  implementation  and  impact  data  to  improve  program  design;
– Improve  educator  effectiveness;  and
– Ensure  graduates  are  successful  in their  school  systems  and  communities.”

3. The Relay Graduate School of Education will use their grant to create Teacher2 (TeacherSquared). Led by Dr. Brent Maddin, Teacher2 will gather teacher preparation programs which focus on four themes: “building novice teachers’ competencies, supporting teacher educators, enabling data-driven improvement, and meeting the needs of schools and communities.” Teacher2 plans to work with at least six teacher education programs located among 20 sites, throughout more than 10 states to prepare at least 2,500 new, diverse and effective teachers by 2019.

4. Based out of the University of Michigan School of EducationTeachingWorks is a national organization working towards the improvement of professional teacher preparation. TeachingWorks will provide professional support to staff members of the other national transformation centers. This support will be provided as coaching, workshops and modeling, amongst other resources. This support may also be extended to the teacher educators as needed. The program will also develop and implement teacher preparation program exit assessments. These assessments will gauge a new teachers preparedness, before he or she  independently begins teaching students.

5. The University-School Partnerships for the Renewal of Educator Preparation (U.S.PREP) National Center, is based at Texas Tech University and will also receive a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Texas Tech University’s U.S. Prep program will gather six other universities in Texas and neighboring states, to work with local school districts. After three years, the program will spread to more universities. For now, the U.S. PREP program will be led by Katie Button, an associate professor at TTU’s College of Education, along with Sarah Beal, who once worked at TeachAZ program at Arizona State University.

The Bill and Melinda Gates have constantly donated to change in public education. Though their efforts have been met with many challenges, the Foundation is persistent with their dedication to the improvement of public education.

To learn more about the Gates’ Foundation Awards to Teacher Preparation Transformation Centers, click here.

To read more about the EPIC program, click here.

To read more about NCTR, click here.

To read more about Teacher 2, click here.

To read more about TeachingWorks, click here.

To read more about U.S. PREP, click here.

Boy quits school to start home schooling system

Check out this inspirational video about a young boy who wanted to make a change!

United States of Education

Robert Peters Manor TexasThough past years have proven difficult, the United States finally claimed victory over its latest obstacle. The 21 year battle came to a close in a Chiang Mai, Thailand, with the U.S. team being crowned the International Mathematical Olympiad. Overcoming what has long been an impossible hurdle, these intrepid students proved that math is not the achilles heel of America any longer.

Labeled the “hardest competition” by those brave enough to enter, this academic decathlon tests mastery of a myriad of complicated mathematical procedures. Led by Po-Shen Loh of Carnegie Mellon, the professor and his team were the first to take the championship since 1994, beating out longtime dominators China and Korea.

The victory came as a shock due to American school systems being universally panned as below average. The American Association for the Advancement of Science has rated the United States’ K-12 education system as below par, with a meager 16% of their members believing it to be above average. U.S. students score higher on national math tests than they have in the past several decades, but fall in the middle ground when compared to international scores. Theories run the range from a general lack of interest in math as a subject, to the outdated means of presenting it to students, whereas some simply feel it’s a lack of heroes to look up to. Grant Imahara of Mythbusters says “In the field we need rockstars. In the 60s astronauts were rockstars. Everyone wanted to be an astronaut.”

Whatever the reasons, this victory is one for the record books. Welcome proof that while scores may be down, the United States is never out of the fight. Though the education system can still use an overhaul in the way it’s presented to students, potential mathletes have an achievable goal to reach, and heroes worthy of their attention.

Manor ISD – Tech Highschool

Texas Education

Education, the foundation of our future, is an absolute necessity. However, in Texas a troubling statistic has surfaced regarding the dropout rates of Latino youths. With legislators chasing skewed statistics, and no clear answer in sight, those that suffer stand to lose everything.
Before opinions form, it’s important to examine all of the facts. While the Latino population continues to grow in Texas, it was initially viewed as a favorable statistic that more youths were enrolling in college. However, when comparisons were drawn between the rate of population growth and the increase of college enrollment, the numbers don’t equate to a positive trend. Coupled with an increase of high school dropouts, legislators are spinning their wheels trying to root out the cause of this problem.
Initially, the misleading statistic regarding the increase of Latino college enrolment was taken as a sign of improvement, but this statistic is far from accurate. A closer examination finds that while the overall enrollment may have increased, there has been a decrease in degrees earned by the students, leading to more dropouts.
Though this research comes from the Pew Research Center as a result of data gathered during the 2013-2014 school year, legislators are not acting on this information. This level of blatant inaction is attributed to the School Financing Lawsuit passed in 2011, and its remaining open to this day. Texas had suffered deep budget cuts to their education department, and still struggle to recover. Placed 49th on the list of states with the least amount of funding per student. How much longer will those seeking education suffer for this political quagmire?
Some attribute the poor state of Texas’ educational system to a lack of funding, but others claim the issue is more than pocket deep. Some feel that the divided community is to blame for the lack of action, others point to the directionless legislators. While no clear cause to emerge, one thing is certain. Without a unified front against this problem, we condemn future students before they’ve even begun.

5 Myths About Online Education

Robert Peters Manor Texas Educator
Online learning.
It’s a new concept that many of us have yet to explore first-handedly. However, it has proven to work for some, and not so much for others.

According to a recent study, about 5.3 million American students enrolled in at least one online course this past fall. While many online educational programs may differ from one another, there are a few key points of online education that can be taken into consideration wherever you decide to enroll.

Myth #1. The quality is not as good as in-person classes.
Online courses and their professors go through a rigorous certification process in order to get the green light to be an accredited course for students. Academic standard, especially in a respected institution’s eyes, is something to never drop the ball on. Online courses do not mean easier classes.

Myth #2. Online credits aren’t transferrable to other schools.
Students will have issues transferring courses from one institution to another, depending on the state or public/private situation of the school. This is regardless of online or in-person credits earned.

Myth #3. Cheating is more common.
Experts say cheating is not more likely to happen with online courses than it is with traditional ones.
There are measures that some institutions take in order to monitor their online students, such as web cams during exams, or other tools to spot plagiarism.

Myth #4. You’ll never see the instructor in person.
Depending on a student’s location, one can meet the instructor of an online course. Typically, professors are hybrid as they teach in-person and online.

Myth #5. Employers don’t value online degrees.
Marty Lawlor, director of the online executive MBA program a the Rochester Institute of Technology’s Saunders College of Business says, “Some employers, like the general population, hold positions on online education that tend to be rooted more in 1990 notions of online learning than on current trends and realities.”

However, Lawlor says that in his experience, employers usually support employees who are enrolled in programs that have unimpeachable academic credentials, as some companies will even sponsor students to pursue education online.

The important takeaway: It is beneficial to know your personal learning skills, your time management skills, and your follow through tendencies. Basically, know yourself before getting into an online program that will ask of you a different set of skills that an in-person course may not.

Differentiation Does Not Work

Robert Peters Manor Texas Education

In the past decades, we have tried it all from back to basics, the open classroom, whole language, and E.D. Hirsch’s detailed accounts of what every 1st and 3rd grader should know. America’s teachers and students are the guinea pigs in the perennial quest towards universal excellence. Sadly, the elusive solution that will solve all of the education system’s problems is long from being discovered.

Differentiation didn’t get gong until regular educators adopted the technique in the late 1980s. The Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) has released more than 600 publications about differentiation. Countless publishers have done the same, with manuals an software that turns every classroom into a more differentiated one.

The only problem is: Differentiation is not proven to work. It is an educational joke played on countless educators and students. In theory, differentiation sounds like a good idea.
The several important factors of student learning taken into account by differentiation:
It seeks to determine what students already have learned and what they still need to know.
It allows students to demonstrate what they know through various methods.
It encourages students and teachers to add depth and complexity to the educational process.

This all sounds great however, in theory, differentiation in application is much more difficult to actually implement in a classroom.

The Thomas B. Fordham Institude’s Michael Petrilli writes about a University of Virginia study for differentiated instruction, “Teachers were provided with extensive professional development and ongoing coaching. Three years later the researchers wanted to now if the program had an impact on student learning. But they were stumped. ‘We couldn’t answer the question … because no one was actually differentiating,’ “ the research indicated to Petrilli.

It seems that when it comes to differentiation, teachers are either opting out of doing ir at all or beating themselves up for not succeeding with the method. The verdict is clear that differentiation is an unfulfilled promise and a waste of massive proportions.

The big reason why it doesn’t work is because it has to do with the way students are deployed in most of our country’s classrooms. Combining several learning types of students in one classroom and one singular teacher to tend to their individual needs leads to a recipe for disaster. It seems that the only educations who assert that differentiation is a doable method are those who have not actually tried to implement it themselves. These people include university professors, curriculum planners, and principals. The actual teachers in the classroom know that differentiation sis a cheap way of for schools to pay lip service to those who demand that each child be educated to their fullest potential.

With this method has come the sad truth that we have sacrificed the learning of virtually every student.
Differentiation may have a chance if as a nation, we are all willing to return to the days when students of similar abilities were placed with other students whose learning needs and styles paralleled their own. Differentiation will continue to become a losing proposition for both students and teachers until then.