Teachers' perceptions of their co-teaching relationships

Elizabeth Smith Thielemann, Fordham University


Co-teaching between a general education teacher and a special education teacher is a well known method of providing an education to students with disabilities in mainstream settings. The main purpose of this quantitative/qualitative study was to assess co-teachers' perceptions of their teaching relationships and to identify factors which may affect their co-teaching experience. This study utilized a modified version of the Co-teaching Rating Scale (CtRS), developed by Gately & Gately (2001). The study was conducted a middle school and a high school in one suburban school district located in a working-to-middle class area of the northeastern United States. A total of forty-two secondary teachers completed a survey and eight of them were randomly selected to participate in a personal interview. Quantitative findings showed that special educators were more likely than general educators to always have common planning time. In addition, those who volunteered for co-teaching were more likely to always have common planning time. Also, those who always found time for common planning taught an average of more collaborative classes in a day than those who taught less classes per day. There was also a significant association between frequency of planning and the grade level of teachers. Analysis of qualitative data showed that teachers perceived the following benefits of co-teaching: (a) the physical presence of another teacher in the room, (b) teachers helping one another, (c) students getting more attention. In regard to challenges, the teachers reported the following challenges: (a) the lack of common planning time, (b) differing ideologies, (c) differing personalities, and (d) co-teachers facing the challenges experienced by a married couple. In regard to administrative support, teachers wanted more time to be together (a) for common planning time, (b) during workshops and professional development, and (c) over the years.

Subject Area

Educational leadership|Special education

Recommended Citation

Thielemann, Elizabeth Smith, "Teachers' perceptions of their co-teaching relationships" (2011). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3461899.