If you’re a student at Jenison Junior High who needs some extra help with your classes, you have the best of two worlds. Resource Room teachers like Mallory DeFouw, Aaron Boermsa, Dawn Dykstra, Rachel Chapman team up with General Education classroom teachers to team teach and then take those lessons back to their own rooms for a little extra help.
Mallory DeFouw explains how the system works for her: “My morning is spent team teaching in sections that I then teach the Resource Room classes later. So I’m able to see and perform and do those things within those team taught classrooms and then I can decide how the lesson needs to be scaffolded for my students.” Resource Room teachers have smaller class sizes [also called Parallel Classrooms] with only 10-14 students and 1 teacher. This allows for a slower pace and more individual attention when it’s needed. Mrs DeFouw says that this is important because they are “able to target more students needs in the least restrictive environment”.
Aaron Boersma adds, “The instruction is split pretty evenly in the co-taught setting. There are different models of co-teaching, but the model that I have been able to find most effective is when the general education and special education share the instruction. I have been fortunate to teach with wonderful general education teachers who allow me to come into their classroom and share the responsibilities. I truly believe and have seen both the special education and general education students benefit from being in a co-taught class academically and socially.”
With two teachers in the room they are able to more quickly address difficulties a student may be having and individual attention can be given when needed which is not always possible with only one teacher on hand. In some classrooms students are broken down into smaller groups which diffuses distractions and students with learning disabilities are able to learn by watching their peers work their way through difficulties. “Many times students can learn from their peers modeling how to productively struggle” says science teacher, Candace Molenkamp adding, “Learning how to work with peers of all ability levels is an advantage for everyone involved. Seeing tasks from a different perspective is eye opening for students and many times I see teaching happening among the students.”
Of course, success comes in many forms and the team teaching model allows our teachers to see the benefits even after the students have moved on. “Relationships are a huge part of my teaching. I’d say the most rewarding part of teaching students with learning disabilities is when they get to high school and come back to see you and thank you for the impact you had on them. Whether it was reading a test, editing a paper, helping them apply a new strategy, or teaching them how to advocate for themselves it is those moments that make teaching well worth it!” says Mr Boersma.
He adds, “Special education programs have changed and evolved throughout the years. Students need to be given opportunities to be successful and challenged and through the co-taught setting special education students get just that.”
What a great way to model the effectiveness of working as a team but this is also a fantastic example of how Jenison teachers do all they can to reach every student!