Term of Award

Fall 2016

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Curriculum Studies (Ed.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (restricted to Georgia Southern)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Curriculum, Foundations, and Reading

Committee Chair

Sabrina Ross

Committee Member 1

Ming Fang He

Committee Member 2

Robert Lake

Committee Member 3

Catherine Howerter

Committee Member 3 Email



This qualitative study explored factors that aid and hinder the role of the special education teacher in the co-teaching environment using a womanist theoretical perspective to understand and interpret the experiences of three special education teachers with experience teaching in the inclusive (co-teaching) setting. In utilizing the womanist perspective, the lived experiences of the participants were obtained through interviews and reflective journaling, creating space for them to give voice to their lived experiences.

The participants in this study shared both positive and negative experiences that shed light on factors needed to encourage successful co-teaching relationships. According to the participants, three contributors are involved in building effective co-teaching partnerships: the general education teacher, the special education teacher, and administrators. From the participants’ insights, several important factors were identified as being major components in creating successful co-teaching relationships. The participants revealed that co-teachers have to be flexible, take risks, and be willing participants, spending time together building rapport and collaborating/communicating with one another. Participants pointed out that administrators should support the co-teaching relationship through open communication, flexibility, providing guidance for meeting co-teaching expectations, and ensuring that both teachers in the partnership are heard. Additionally participants offered that administrators should research best practices in co-teaching, manage the school climate and culture to support co-teaching, and engage in specific practices to improve the work environment of co-teachers such as establishing common planning times, being selective in assigning co-teaching teams and content areas, and making sure that sufficient time is allotted for case manager duties. Through the collaborative efforts of the general education teacher, the special education teacher, and administration, what can result is the development of an inclusive learning environment that makes use of the expertise of both teachers for the sake of creating a nurturing space for students with disabilities. Without implementation of the factors identified in this study, the participants felt that the co-teaching setting would be chaotic, causing friction between the teachers and compromising the learning environment.

Research Data and Supplementary Material