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Case Study: Broken Arm


Jim, a 17-year-old student, was a motivated learner and athlete at Crossroads Highschool. Beginning in the second grade, Jim received special education services in support of his
disability: auditory processing deficits and language learning delays. Modification and other
assistance has allowed Jim to maintain his grades until this recent change in his co-teach, English
classroom. Due to his disability, Jim could not master the skill of spelling, a requirement of the
new teacher. With many failed attempts, his motivation started to weaken. It appears that when
Jim is performing well academically he is self-motivated to continue working hard, for he wants
to go to college on an athletic scholarship.
Mary King was the special education teacher assigned to Jims English class. Though she
is a 15-year veteran, she only served as Crossroads co-teacher for five years. Based on the case
story, she was passionate and caring about her position, students, and families. Shed put in extra
work in order to accommodate her students. It appears Mary is willing to collaborate and
communicate with her new co-teacher, but has more of an accommodating style during conflict.
She is fearful of creating poor relationships. I think it is her passion for her job and students that
motivated her. She wanted her students to do well while maintaining healthy work-related
relationships.
Helen is new to Crossroads High School and especially new to the co-teach model.
Coming into this situation, she was a bit apprehensive about it. Im assuming because she is a
20-year veteran, she is less susceptible to change. This was demonstrated through her teaching
style and her collaboration with Mary. Their styles are much different, and as of now,
incompatible. I imagine her previous successes with student achievement has motivated her to
continue to set the same high expectation as she always has. Another driving factor is the high-

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stakes testing all children are required to pass in order to graduate. During collaboration, Helen
was assertive: stating what was going to happen. She wanted to take the lead and have Mary
work in the background.
There are many issues and problems described in this case-study. First of all, Helen
accepted this position with a negative mindset and since it was so sudden, the two teachers did
not have time to get to know one another nor build any sort of relationship. Another being that
the initial collaboration was basically Helen telling Mary how it is going to be rather than taking
part in an exchange of ideas. Considering this school has been successful in the co-teach model,
it would have been nice for Helen to be interested in how things have been done in the past.
Helen implied that their positions are not of equal stance, more like Mary is her assistant. To
piggy-back on this point, Mary needed to be less accommodating and be a better advocate for her
students.
Equal is not always fair. I think this quote applies to an issue presented in this case
student. Helen has the same expectations for all of her students. They learn the same materials, in
the same way, and take the same test. Just as not all teachers have the same style of teaching, not
all students have the same style of learning or demonstrating their learning. Had Helen been
more open to change, she could learn some valuable strategies from her partner.
Some of these problems are similar to those in the real world. For instance, the
administrators could have been more proactive in finding the perfect fit by allowing Mary to take
part in the hiring. Administrators do not always make the time to take part in the collaborative
setting. Other common problems are conflict of power, collaborative styles, communication, time
constraints for planning and collaboration, and/or inability to infuse teaching styles to reach all
the learning styles.

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There are some steps that can be taken for building effective partnerships in a co-teach
setting. Co-teachers may undergo professional development to learn more about the co-teach
model. Also, there should be time for the two professionals to get to know one another. This can
be done through surveys already put together by resources. Learning about each other will help
to build trust and respect. Another step is to create open lines of communication, including
strengths and weaknesses. When these are communicated, they can maximize their instruction to
meet the needs of all students. During this time, they need to discuss their teaching styles,
philosophies, and values. While understanding they are in an equal in authority and need equal
responsibilities for teaching their students, co-teachers need to set their expectations. Their roles
and responsibilities and planning schedules should be addressed. Throughout the year,
collaborative planning must take place. This will be a time to talk about modifications and
accommodations for diverse learners, instructional strategies and delivery, assessment styles and
high-stake testing, and creating signals to use during instruction.
Accommodations are appropriate for students that need extra supports in order to level
the playing field. Mary provided Jim with spelling accommodations. She created him flashcards,
taught him basic spelling rules, and gave him fewer words to work with in the beginning. These
accommodations were unsuccessful because of his disability. Modifications are appropriate when
a student has a disability that prevents them from learning the same content knowledge as typical
developing kids. This would have been ideal for Jim. Marys suggested that Jim demonstrate his
abilities through more individualized tests. These techniques include multiple choice answers or
matching the appropriate word, but Helen shot it down. Other ways to modify would be to adjust
or eliminate grade level standards.

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Collaboration and open lines of communication are important components to a successful


co-teach program. These interactions benefit all because, for one, they allow positive
relationships to be built. Parents and students offer professionals a great deal of information
including their childs background and their childs behaviors at home. When parents are
included, they recognize the significant role they take in their childs education. School
personnel and community members are able to provide resources that benefit individual students
as well as the entire classroom. As they say, It takes a village to raise a child.