A handful of middle school teachers began training this week meant to improve co-teaching. A practice used by many schools in Utah with varying results.
The group gathered in a classroom at the Utah State Board of Education offices in downtown Salt Lake City.
Most of the teachers have come in pairs, special ed and general ed, who teach at least one class period together. Like Cindy Schow and Melissa Rigby from American Fork Junior High.
Schow teaches special ed and has taught with general ed teachers for years. The hope is that exposing her students to a general ed classroom and curriculum fosters a better setting for growth.
But it can be tricky. Schow says it’s kind of like a marriage.
"You learn the strengths of each other and the weaknesses for that matter and you work through that," Schow says.
Becky Unker, one of the instructors, says the goal of this yearlong training is to help these teachers work through some of that awkwardness and become an effective team.
“We really get to see them develop that relationship and they bond with us we bond with them," says Unker.
Along with two full days this week, this group will meet together 8 other times throughout the year.
What makes this training unique is that it’s content specific. These are all math teachers and so all of the trainings are math-related.
“It gives it a context, it gives it purpose," says Unker. "Not just co-teaching for co-teaching.”
The state board is currently working on a study to show the effectiveness of these trainings and a plan to expand it to language arts in order to reach more teachers statewide.