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Interview Project on Teaching Diverse Students

And Experience with Co-Teaching

Ben Eric G. Toribio

University of Maine at Farmington


Ben Eric Toribio

Kate Macleod

SED 361

16 October 2018


The interview took place at Dragon Sea, a chinese buffet restaurant in Newport. My interviewee,

Chaz, got out of work at 11:45am so we planned to eat a late lunch at 1pm and do the interview

towards the end of the meal. We ended up meeting more around 1:30pm since I struggled a bit to

find the restaurant. Since we ate fairly late, the interview took place mid afternoon so the

restaurant itself was fairly empty.

Chaz was born in the Philippines and moved to the US around when he turned 9. He

knew a fair amount of English and transitioned very well into a very small school that was

mostly populated by caucasian students and staff. Chaz graduated from UMO on December 21st,

2017. He majored in Secondary Ed with a concentration in Science. After receiving his diploma,

he had many opportunities to teach as a substitute and long term substitute. He subbed and long

term subbed at Herman Elementary, Herman Middle School, Herman High School, and Leonard

Middle School. Starting this winter he will be attending Husson for graduate school to obtain a

Masters in Physical Therapy.



Experience with Diverse Learners

Chaz has only had a half a years’ worth of experience post his graduation in the winter,

excluding his experience as a student teacher. He had only been able to sub and be a long term

substitute during this time. Despite this, he has had experience co-teaching and with IEP

meetings. He did not have much experience with ELL students. “The majority of the ethnically

diverse students I had seemed to be born in the US and spoke English fairly fluently.”

I asked Chaz to talk? about what the IEP meetings he attended looked like. He told me

they varied. They always included a Guidance Counselor, either the Principal and/or the Vice

Principal but usually the Vice Principal, a special education teacher, the parent(s) of the student,

the teachers that had the student in the classroom, and sometimes the student. Chaz attended the

meetings as both a fill-in for a General Education teacher and in his role as a long term


He told me that there was only one extreme case where a student was removed from a

class he was teaching. He wasn’t present during the time the student was removed since it was

during the beginning of the year and Chaz only taught during the second half of the school year.

He did get the chance to interact with the student in the Special Education classroom when he

subbed for the Ed Tech in charge of said classroom.

The student had been excluded from the General Education classroom due to his

Hyperactivity. “There was this one case where a student had to be dragged down the hallway

when he was taken out of the classroom.” He had episodes wherein he was disruptive to the class

and a possible harm “if his day wasn’t going well.” I asked Chaz if his colleagues attempted to

include him back in the classroom. He told me that teachers had discussed doing so if he meets

certain requirements but Chaz wasn’t entirely sure what these requirements were. I assume he

did not take part in those IEP meetings.

Experience Co-teaching

I was curious about Chaz’s experience as a student teacher and how he coordinated

teaching lessons with his General Education teacher. His teacher had a fairly strict curriculum

that he followed. At first, they began with the teacher teaching the first 2 classes and Chaz would

follow their example and teach the remaining classes in the day. They gradually got to the point

where they’d discuss the lessons at the beginning of the day and Chaz would proceed to teach the

classes throughout the day but still based on the teachers curriculum. During Chaz’s last two

weeks, he got a bit more freedom with his lessons. His teacher provided his materials and the

past methods he had used beforehand but ultimately left it to Chaz to teach the lessons however

he chose. His teacher still showed what standards and goals had to be met but Chaz was not

limited to the teachers lesson plan.

For Chaz’s experience prior to long term subbing, he was able to co-teach with the

teacher he was subbing for at Leonard Middle School. This lasted for about 3 weeks. During this

time, Chaz was included into Leonard Middle’s Gmail system. Through this, along with text and

other social medias, Chaz communicated with his General Education teacher. The teacher shared

their lesson plans with Chaz via Google Docs from which they discussed their roles in the

lessons. Once Chaz took over, the teacher shared all their past lesson plans and variations of said

lesson plans to Chaz to have as a reference for their term as a long term substitute.


My interview and findings with Chaz seemed a bit narrow. I’m going to assume it’s mostly due

to the fact that he has only had about half a years worth of experience teaching outside of

college. Despite only having the role as a substitute and long term sub, he had opportunities to

get involved with IEP meetings and practicing different methods of teaching and co-teaching.

In terms of IEP meetings, his experience is very much like we’ve talked in class. At the

meetings he attended, there was a guidance counselor, the principal or the vice principal, a

special education teacher, the parent(s) of the student, the teachers that had the student in the

classroom, and sometimes the student. Unfortunately, he did not have any meetings that were

student lead.

Discussing with Chaz about this did lead to my realization that we, in the classroom,

never really talked about substitutes in detail when it comes to supporting diverse learners. It’s

implied that we’ll be applying what we’ve learned but Chaz pointed out that there were a few

different reasons as to why he attended some of the IEP meetings. One of these reasons was

because one of the general education teachers, that Chaz wasn’t directly affiliated with, was not

available so he was there in their place. Though we don’t discuss this in class, I think this is a

great way to utilize paraprofessionals and substitute teachers to provide them with more

experience and to be able to relay the information to the general education teacher.

I was disappointed to hear about how Chaz’s colleagues handled the hyperactive student.

I don’t know the exact details leading up to the situation but it seemed to be dealt with in a fairly

harsh manner. This was during Chaz’s long term subbing period so the student had been removed

from the general education classroom for at least half a year as a middle schooler. I didn’t get

context on whether or not the student had an IEP beforehand or if it was simply a sudden

decision made to remove him from the classroom at the beginning of the year. In class we always

emphasize supporting the student however we can to be able to include them in the classroom. It

seemed like the teachers simply focused on him reaching goals prior to getting back in the

general education classroom as opposed to focusing on his strengths and providing the means to

act on inclusive practices. Chaz also emphasized that, this being his most extreme experience

with IEPs, the student had had to been “physically pulled down the hall” when he was taken out

of the classroom. I want to say that this won’t and shouldn’t happen but I feel as if it’s bound to

eventually in my future experiences as an educator.

Chaz mentioned later that one of the Special Education teachers that attended the same

IEP meetings he did was one who was also in charge of Ed Techs. The teacher had complained

about how they were stretched a bit thin having to teach both students that were put into the

special education classroom and teaching and leading the schools ed techs. Whether this was due

to finances or inability to find a proper ed tech and/or special education teacher, this would be a

great way to incorporate an inclusive facilitator to expand staff and spread out responsibilities. In

the novel “The Blind Advantage,” there is a huge emphasis on the staff that Bill Henderson has

created. Similarly, he is able to act on his profession as principal at O’hearn whilst relying on

others like the treasurer or secretary to handle paperwork and support his blindness. Though this

is a somewhat extreme case, schools should consider hiring more professionals, especially as the

ratio of their diverse learners expands.


Co-teaching seemed to be a great experience for Chaz, both prior to and during his long

term subbing. With Google being so user friendly, it was a great way for Chaz to exchange files

and email the general education teachers he was involved with. He didn’t mention any bad

experiences when it came to collaborating with other teachers. The teachers followed a similar

“fade away” trend where they’d show the ropes, challenge Chaz with a bit of experience, and

gradually allow him to be able to teach on his own.


In terms of recommendations for the situations that Chaz experienced, the only ones I can think

of giving are for the special education teacher and the hyperactive student. Whether if it’s a

matter of funding or spreading responsibilities amongst the staff, the school would benefit from

an inclusive facilitator. In one of the situations in From Special Education Teacher to Inclusion

Facilitator, an inclusive facilitator’s “responsibilities include providing support to general

education teachers, serving as the team leader to plan and implement student supports, serving as

home-school liaison, and evaluating and supervising paraprofessionals.” (publication date, p#)

They could work alongside the Ed Tech specialist and other staff to incorporate inclusive


For the inclusion of the hyperactive student, there are a variety of variables that could

explain the situation. Ideally, the student’s general education teachers could identify what

specifically causes the episodes whether it be something physical, emotional, mental, etc. In an

IEP meeting, discuss the situation and conclude theo supports that can be provided within a

general education classroom. Depending on the intensity of the support and availability, a

co-teacher can be included in the general education classroom to practice any and/or all

co-teaching methods that are most beneficial for the hyperactive student and the rest of the

classroom. Always have oot consider that “co-teaching requires general education and special

education teachers to be responsible for all students” (Vroman &and Elder, pub year., p. 11).

Though it was brief, Chaz’s experience long term subbing and student teaching expressed

a somewhat monotone co-teaching experience. There was great communication but the teaching

aspect itself was more geared towards preparing him to teach content by himself as opposed to

utilizing two professionals to maximize understanding of content. As an up-in-coming educator,

this is understandable but there are ways to use what would be considered a paraprofessional for

the sake of the student despite their lack of experience in the field. Whether it’s duel teaching,

supplementary teaching, complimentary teaching or sectional teaching. As long as the

paraprofessional was adamant in their concentration, they should be able to communicate well

enough with their general education teacher to optimize their teachings within the classroom.


Henderson, Bill (2011) The blind advantage.

Schuh, Mary C. and Jorgensen, Cheryl M. (2006) From special education teacher to inclusion

facilitator. Retrieved from


Vroman, Katherine M. J. and Elder, Brent C. (2016) The first day of school was the worst day of

my life. Retrieved from



Appendix A

Interview Protocol

What is your background?

● Level of schooling, ethnicity, years of experience teaching

What is your experiences with IEPs/504 plans?

● Who were at the meetings?

● Student involvement?

Experience with ELLs?

● How did you compensate for the language barrier?

● Did any have IEPs?

What experiences have you had co-teaching?

● Google Docs?

● Social medias?

What’s the most extreme case you’ve had in terms of a student needing an IEP? (Bonus question

since he didn’t have experience with ELLs and nothing really stuck out in terms of diverse

learners within his classroom)

● Meetings?

● Ways to include back in gen ed classroom?

Appendix B

Interview Notes

About Chaz:

● Subbed and long term subbed at Herman Elementary School, Herman Middle School,

Herman High School, and Leonard Middle School

● Graduated December 21, 2017, subbed afterward

● Born in Philippines, moved to Maine around 9, new a fair amount of English so good

transition into small school

Experiences with IEP’s

● Multiple experiences: ranged from sit-ins to one of the teachers involved in the IEP


● IEP meetings: attended either due to long term sub or meeting required a teacher but

none were available.

o Long term subbing: required all teachers who had student to attend

o Guidance Counselor, Principal or VP (more typical), special ed (ed tech), Gen. Ed.

teacher, parents, sometimes the student.

● Little to no experience with ELLs


● Experience as a student teacher:

○ Teacher had a strict curriculum to follow

○ Began with teacher teaching first 2 classes and him teaching the last. Slowly

shifted to the point where they’d discuss the lessons and then he would teach all


○ Last 2 weeks, was able to use own materials and methods (not necessarily

following the already made lesson plan)

● Co-taught with teacher he was taking over before long term subbing

○ Co-taught for 3 weeks and then took over

○ Included into Leonard Middle Gmail system, shared old lesson plans and such.

Hyperactive Student:

● Had episodes if day wasn’t going well

● Removed from gen ed classroom because of hyperactivity at the beginning of the year

● Had to watch him in the special ed classroom

● Teachers discussed including him back in the gen ed classroom but he had to meet certain

requirements (not really known