Date of Conferral
As the population of English language learners (ELLs) in the United States grows, educators, administrators, and policymakers must support effective methods of instruction. Co-teaching, an inclusive special education instructional approach, has recently grown in popularity as a method for providing English as a second language (ESL) support. The research on ESL co-teaching lacks in-depth data about the experiences and relationships of co-teaching teams. The purpose of this heuristic phenomenological study was to explore the lived experiences and relational dynamics of co-teachers within an English language instructional setting. Friend and Cook's model of collaboration and Siemen's theory of connectivism provided a framework for this study. Through purposeful sampling, 3 ESL and 3 mainstream teachers were identified. Individual interviews and subsequent focus groups yielded information about the lived experiences and perceptions of both the ESL and mainstream teachers. Using Moustakas' heuristic inquiry stages of analysis, the data were analyzed and coded. Four themes emerged: preparation, the value of time, the issues of control, and the dynamics of a co-teaching relationship. The teachers perceived insufficient time as a major barrier to effective preparation and coordination of teaching teams. The participants also indicated additional elements as important to the success of a teaching team: personality, teacher modeling, flexibility, and communication. This study may lead to social change by informing educators, administrators, and policy-makers about (a) implementing the ESL co-teaching model and (b) the supports needed to help ESL and mainstream teachers function effectively in a co-taught classroom.