As a way to boost student performance and to make every student feel equal, Lugoff-Elgin Middle School (LEMS) added co-teaching, which allows a general education teacher and a special education teacher to combine classes and teach the students some of the same material.
“Students get exposure in a team setting as opposed to single learning,” LEMS Principal Karen Bullard said.
The co-taught classes are randomly assigned, but students in both classes benefit from having access to two teachers; however, special education students get the added benefit of being included in the main population.
“We want all children to be exposed to an academic and social setting at school,” Bullard said.
The idea of incorporating co-teaching at LEMS arose after Bullard challenged her special education teachers to try using different approaches to better help their students learn. The teachers did their research and looked at other schools with similar amounts of students in the special education population to get ideas.
Eventually, they stumbled across the concept of co-teaching and began observing it at schools. In the fall of 2013, they got together with University of South Carolina Associate Professor of Educational Studies Christine Christle, who guided them through the process of learning and implementing co-teaching.
Co-teaching started as a pilot program this past spring and Bullard said after experiencing a tremendous amount of success they moved forward with the program at the beginning of this school year.
Aside from the inclusion of students with different learning into one classroom, co-teaching also offers the benefits of the reduction of student teacher ratios and teachers sharing ideas to better the learning experience.
“Our teachers said that they grew professionally and that they liked having ideas to bounce off of other teachers,” Bullard said.
According to Bullard, LEMS is still working with Christle and her team to track the impact that the program is having on students.