A case study examining the collaboration between general education and special education teachers in inclusive classrooms
Increased accountability mandates from the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 have resulted in general education teachers with disabled students in their classrooms. Within the inclusive classroom, the special education teacher and the general education teacher must develop a collaborative relationship that will consider the needs of the special education students and general education students. Villa and Thousand (1996) described the benefits of collaboration in schools: “Collaboration enables school personnel to meet diverse student needs through shared expertise and ownership of problem definitions and solutions” (p. 170). The purpose of this qualitative case study was to examine how special education teachers and general education teachers in inclusive classrooms collaborate regarding the needs of students. The participants for this study were four special education teachers, four general education teachers, and the administrator in one elementary school located in Mississippi. The research questions for this study were derived from six defining characteristics of collaboration as described by Friend and Cook (1996). The six defining characteristics are: (a) collaboration is voluntary; (b) collaboration requires parity among participants; (c) collaboration is based on mutual goals; (d) collaboration depends on shared responsibility for participation and decision making; (e)collaboration requires individuals to share responsibility for outcomes. There were two research questions posed for this study: (1) How do special education teachers collaborate, as defined by Friend and Cook (1996), when working with general education teachers? (2) How do general education teachers collaborate, as defined by Friend and Cook (1996), when working with special education teachers?