Citation
Barriers impacting general and special educators within the inclusive preschool classroom

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Title:
Barriers impacting general and special educators within the inclusive preschool classroom
Creator:
Cormier, Georgia
Place of Publication:
Denver, CO
Publisher:
University of Colorado Denver
Publication Date:
Language:
English

Thesis/Dissertation Information

Degree:
Master's ( Master of arts)
Degree Grantor:
University of Colorado Denver
Degree Divisions:
School of Education and Human Development, CU Denver
Degree Disciplines:
Education and human development
Committee Chair:
Kim, Jung-In
Committee Members:
Rausch, Alissa
Leech, Nancy

Notes

Abstract:
This research investigated the barriers and advantages that exist between general and special educators’ collaborative relationship within the inclusive preschool classroom. In addition, how these challenges and advantages impacted the working relationship between these educators. Data were gathered through guided interviews. Findings showed that lack of time and heavy caseload were found to impact the specialists’ ability to follow up consistently with the master teachers, inhibiting assurance that intervention recommendations were being practiced and measured. While lack of master teacher training in both intervention strategies and leadership were found to impact the working relationship among educators, in addition to impacting master teacher follow through of those recommendations provided by the specialists. At the same time, advantages within this collaborative dynamic were found to be influenced by the Clarence Inclusion Team point person system. Master teacher perception of support developed due to the sense of common goals and shared responsibilities established within this working partnership. Working conditions and program incentives were found to impact master teacher perceptions as well. The findings implicate that future research should investigate the advantages of collaborative-based training for educators in both, intervention strategy development and inter-personal skill development to enhance the promotion of inclusion and quality of instruction.

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University of Colorado Denver
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Auraria Library
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Copyright Georgia Cormier. Permission granted to University of Colorado Denver to digitize and display this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.

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Full Text
BARRIERS IMPACTING GENERAL AND SPECIAL EDUCATORS WITHIN THE
INCLUSIVE PRESCHOOL CLASSROOM BY
GEORGIA CORMIER
B.A., METROPOLITAN STATE UNIVERSITY, 2008
A thesis submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School of the University of Colorado in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Education and Human Development
2019


This Thesis for Master of Arts Education and Human Development Degree
Georgia Cormier Has been approved for the School of Education and Human Development by
Jung-In Kim, Chair Alissa Rausch, Co-chair Nancy Leech
Date: May 18, 2019


Cormier, Georgia (M. A., Education and Human Development Program)
The Barriers between General and Special Educators
within the Inclusive Preschool Classroom
Thesis Directed by Associate Professor Jung-In Kim
ABSTRACT
This research investigated the barriers and advantages that exist between general and special educators’ collaborative relationship within the inclusive preschool classroom. In addition, how these challenges and advantages impacted the working relationship between these educators.
Data were gathered through guided interviews. Findings showed that lack of time and heavy caseload were found to impact the specialists’ ability to follow up consistently with the master teachers, inhibiting assurance that intervention recommendations were being practiced and measured. While lack of master teacher training in both intervention strategies and leadership were found to impact the working relationship among educators, in addition to impacting master teacher follow through of those recommendations provided by the specialists. At the same time, advantages within this collaborative dynamic were found to be influenced by the Clarence Inclusion Team point person system. Master teacher perception of support developed due to the sense of common goals and shared responsibilities established within this working partnership. Working conditions and program incentives were found to impact master teacher perceptions as well. The findings implicate that future research should investigate the advantages of collaborative-based training for educators in both, intervention strategy development and interpersonal skill development to enhance the promotion of inclusion and quality of instruction.
The form and content of this abstract are approved. I recommend its publication.
Approved: Jung-In Kim


TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTER ONE.....................................................................1
INTRODUCTION..................................................................1
Limitations.................................................................2
CHAPTER TWO.....................................................................4
Review of the Literature......................................................4
Training and Pedagogical Differences........................................4
Collaborative Relationships within the Inclusive Classroom..................6
Co-Teaching.................................................................8
Co-planning & Consultation.................................................10
Working Conditions.........................................................13
The Present Study..........................................................14
CHAPTER THREE..................................................................16
METHOD.......................................................................16
Design.....................................................................16
Participants...............................................................19
Instrumentation and Data Collection........................................20
Data Analysis..............................................................22
CHAPTER FOUR...................................................................24
RESULTS......................................................................24
Time and Caseload..........................................................24
Teacher Training and Support...............................................26
Value Differences..........................................................29
Benefits of CIT Support....................................................31
Working Conditions.........................................................32
Benefits at Clarence Early Learning Center.................................35
Conflicting Responses......................................................36
CHAPTER FIVE...................................................................41
DISCUSSION...................................................................41
Implications...............................................................47
Future Research............................................................48
Conclusion.................................................................48
References...................................................................49
APPENIDICES..................................................................52
Appendix A...................................................................52
Consent Form...............................................................52
Appendix B...................................................................55
Interview Questions........................................................55
Appendix C...................................................................59
IV


Analysis of Master Codes- Barriers..............................................59
Appendix D........................................................................60
Analysis of Master Codes- Benefits..............................................60
Appendix E........................................................................61
Barriers Hierarchy-Master Teachers..............................................61
Appendix F........................................................................62
Pragmatic and Conceptual Barriers: CIT Team.....................................62
Appendix G........................................................................63
CIT Member Hierarchical Barriers................................................63
Appendix H........................................................................64
CIT Team Triangulation of Barriers..............................................64
Appendix 1........................................................................65
Analysis of Coded Categories- Need for Training/ Professional Development.......65
Appendix J........................................................................66
Analysis of Coded Categories- Technology........................................66
Appendix K........................................................................67
Analysis of Codes- Values.......................................................67
Appendix L........................................................................69
Benefits of Collaboration/ Master Teacher Values:...............................69
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CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION
The purpose of this study is to investigate barriers and advantages that are present in inclusive preschool classrooms among special educators and general educators’ collaborative relationship. With the reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA) of 2004, general education teachers (GETs) are held to a greater accountability for the development and implementation of individualized education plans (IEPs) for those students identified with special needs (Conderman & Johnston-Rodriguez, 2009). Meaning, students diagnosed with special needs are to participate in statewide accountability protocols and are held to the same achievement standards as those students not diagnosed with special needs (Kloo & Zigmond, 2008). As a result, the level of accountability towards the modification of curriculum and accommodations within the inclusive classroom are more balanced between GETs and special education teachers (SETs) (Conderman & Johnston-Rodriguez, 2009). Because of the increase in inclusionary practices and needs within the public-school system, there is an increased demand for collaboration between GETs and SETs (Robinson & Buly, 2007). It is essential to understand the challenges that impact the working relationship between the two. According to Robinson & Buly (2007), there is a complicated and long history of education and teacher preparation leading to different theoretical perspectives between the two fields. A difference in standards, belief systems, and lack of shared language are additional factors impacting successful partnership between special and general educators (Robinson & Buly, 2007), in addition to what they are trained to do and how they are trained.
There is limited research on the topic of barriers among general and special educator relationships. There is an abundance of research however, discussing the impact of effective collaboration within inclusive classrooms. As the rate of children identified with special needs
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increases, it is important now more than ever to address the obstacles presented to these students within their inclusive environment (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services & U.S. Department of Education, 2015). As the role dynamics change for special and general educators, it is vital for the well-being of all involved to address the obstacles and challenges presented to them and to provide support along the road of transition. In this study, it is the intention of the researcher to address the following questions: What are the barriers impacting the partnership between special and general educators within the inclusive preschool classroom? How are these challenges affecting the relationship between general and special educators within the inclusive preschool classroom? What are the advantages of collaboration between special and general educators within the inclusive preschool classroom? How do these advantages impact the partnership between special and general educators within the inclusive preschool classroom? Limitations
A major limitation within this study was time. Due to the limited time frame in which this study was conducted, sample size was impacted, thus influencing fidelity of the study. Additionally, due to the inordinate amount of time it takes for qualitative data analysis, time constraint impacted this process, thus the validity of the study. It is necessary to note that because the study was conducted at only one private Early Learning Center in Denver, the sample size is small and limited to the perspective of this one academic institution in the Midwest, reducing the generalizability of the results of the study. Another limitation is implementing only one method of data collection, a qualitative interview. The type of interview utilized is the interview guide approach. In this approach the researcher is given the flexibility to ask questions in any order and change the wording of questions spontaneously, thus impacting consistency. The use of coders is another limitation; due to the lack of resources and time, the
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researcher, as a single-coder, conducted the data analysis. When multiple coders are used, the
research is more defensible and encapsulates best practice.
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CHAPTER TWO Review of the Literature
This section reviews the literature surrounding the topics relevant to barriers between general and special educators, including training and pedagogical differences, collaboration in inclusive classrooms, and working conditions.
Training and Pedagogical Differences
Existing literature discusses the philosophical differences between the two fields based on training and educational backgrounds. However, with growing demands for collaboration, these differences are impacting performance. Today special education teachers are expected to work in “least restrictive environments,” which is quite different from the old one-on-one instruction where it was customary for the special education teacher to pull out the individual students (Robinson & Buly, 2007, p.83). In addition, when Robinson and Buly (2007) examined extensively the language barriers, they discovered that terms were defined differently among the two fields. Through the process of data collection, Robinson and Buly (2007) found that common terms such as: behaviorism, constructivism, diagnosis, direct instruction, and fluency were defined differently among the faculty members in their College of Education. To validate their findings, Robinson and Buly (2007) turned to research literature and found that not only were there differences in definitions, but also teacher preparation materials, journals, reports, and materials written for teacher and administrator audiences. Robinson and Buly (2007) presented their findings to their respective national conferences, the Council for Exceptional Children and the International Reading Association. Further examples of language barriers were shared and discussed among the audiences at both conferences between elementary education and special education (Robinson & Buly, 2007).
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In addition to language barriers, Robinson and Buly (2007) found within their college and within K-12 schools that different philosophies also contributed to the discord between general and special education. General education faculty follow a Constructivist perspective and potentially view the Behaviorist approach of special education as “rigid, overly structured, and dehumanizing., with an emphasis on rewarding extrinsically” (Robinson & Buly, 2007, p. 86).
To the same extent, special education faculty potentially view general educators as “fuzzy, unstructured, with an over emphasis on ‘fun’ activities that lack clearly defined educational outcomes” (Robinson & Buly, 2007, p. 86). It is no coincidence that collaboration between the two fields can be stifled, when considering these types of imposed views (Robinson & Buly, 2007). Wood (1998) further elaborates on the various levels of barriers that exist within the school system, from individual classroom practices to state educational school codes. Relation to skills lacking in teacher preparation programs, consultation skills and role ambiguity regarding service delivery are two major issues (Wood, 1998).
In a study conducted by Conderman & Johnston-Rodriguez (2009), beginning teachers’ level of preparedness in working with students with special needs, was dependent on their field experience. In addition, concern was raised in a nation-wide survey, which indicated that special education teaching practices placed less focus on tasks involving collaboration, or consultation skills; rather, priority was placed on paper-type assignments, such as lesson planning (Conderman, Morin, & Stephens, 2005, p.236, as cited in Conderman & Johntson-Rodriguez, 2009). According to Chang, Early, & Winton (2005, p.348, as cited in Odom et al., 2011), traditional professional development is not enough in the preparation of teachers and staff to adequately meet the individual learning needs of students with disabilities in early childhood education. Therefore, research suggests that it is vital for administrations to advocate for
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resources in professional development, ongoing coaching and collaboration, and time for communication and planning. These larger system supports are critical for successful classroom inclusion (Lieber et al., 2000, p.348, as cited in Odom et al, 2011).
Collaborative Relationships within the Inclusive Classroom
Lieber et al. (1997, p.348, as cited in Odom et al., 2011) recorded in an investigation with
the Early Childhood Research Institute on Inclusion (ECRU) on how the success of inclusive programs is more dependent on the collaborative partnerships between adults, rather than the attributes of the students. There were seven characteristics of collaboration affiliated with successful inclusion recognized, according to this research: joint participation in planning, shared philosophies, shared responsibility for all children, communication, professional roles, stability of relationships, and administrative support. These characteristics may appear in various collaborative models, including: coaching, mentoring, and/ or providing guidance and feedback within inclusive child development programs between the specialized professionals and the lead teachers (Lieber et al., 1997, p.348, as cited in Odom et al., 2011).
In addition, Morgan (2016) argues that collaboration in and of itself is not a guarantee for success within the inclusive classroom. Rather, certain conditions such as genuineness among individuals must be in place to produce success. Common goals, voluntary engagement, participant parity, along with shared resources, decision making, responsibility, and accountability for outcomes are among the attributes of genuine collaboration (Morgan 2016). Coincidentally, there is a dilemma due to “role overlap,” where professionals are unable to collaborate across disciplines (Sands,1993, p.545, as cited in Wood, 1998). This inability to change or modify roles in the effort to collaborate is consistent with the expectations of SETs job description prior to the reauthorization of IDEIA (2004), where SETs were expected to pull
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students with disabilities outside of the general education classroom for individualized instruction (Wood, 1998). Additional forms of collaboration include: co-teaching, co-planning, integrated service delivery, cooperative teaming, consultation, informal and formal meetings (Morgan, 2016; Van Garderen et al., 2012).
As stated by Wood (1998), SETs and GETs must re-design their roles and relationships within the inclusive classroom and organizational composition to promote responsive relationships. Because of the IDEIA of 2004, the demand for collaboration has been called forth to best serve those students identified with special needs within the inclusive classroom. From accountability standards to the creation of modified strategies and implementation, all require unification across disciplines and this needs to begin in teacher preparation programs (Gerber & Popp, 2000, as cited in Conderman & Johnston-Rodriguez, 2004).
The lack of clarification between roles also impacts the ability to synchronize teaching efforts and inhibits clarity of expectations regarding student performance and teaching styles (Dettmer et al., 1993, as cited in Wood, 1998). Additional barriers were divided into separate components: pragmatic and conceptual. Pragmatic barriers included lack of time, funding issues, and large caseloads for SETs. Differing disciplines, a sense of hierarchy, and the increase in classroom interventions being perceived as intrusive, comprise the conceptual barriers (Wood, 1998). It is pertinent to recognize the vast difference in disciplines between GETs and SETs. Where GETs specialize in comprehension of the curriculum, standards, and the required outcome for the whole class; SETs have mastered individualizing the curriculum and instruction based on a student’s need (Van Garderen et al., 2012). Among the many theories that cultivate SETs practice is Behaviorism. This approach includes incidental teaching, functional assessment,
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positive behavior support, systematic instruction, and the individualization of goals. These methods were derived based on evidence-based practices (Odom & Wolery, 2003).
In addition, findings in the study conducted by Foley et al. (1997), implied that elementary teacher candidates lacked knowledge in consultation/ collaboration models, processes and the skills in designing action plans for services amongst multiple interventions. This suggest a need for teacher preparation programs to focus on developing and implementing collaborative-based activities (Foley et al, 1998). Based on the results of the study, assessment approaches, communication strategies, conflict resolution skills, and conceptual understanding of the partnership between school and community-based services are among the specific areas of training needs (Foley et al, 1998).
Co-Teaching
In the article written by Kloo & Zigmond (2008), they argue that the benefits of coteaching between a certified general educator and certified special educator yields highly effective instruction delivery for all students within the inclusive classroom, particularly those students with learning disabilities. With the responsibility for planning, delivering, and evaluating instruction being shared, the strengths within both fields are being drawn upon (Kloo & Zigmond, 2008). Due to the IDEA of 1997, students with disabilities are held to the same high standards of achievement and are expected to fully participate in statewide accountability measures as their typically developing peers. And this notion is reiterated through the reauthorization of the IDEIA of 2004 (Kloo & Zigmond, 2008). As a result, Kloo & Zigmond (2008) explain the need for the general educators’ comprehension of the structure, content, and pacing of the curriculum; in conjunction with the special educators’ ability to enhance the general curriculum and instruction to match the unique learning needs of individual students.
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That is, if the law requiring those students with learning and behavioral needs are to learn the exact content and show competence on the same tests as their typically developing peers (Kloo & Zigmond, 2008), is to be upheld.
In a study conducted by Weiss et al. (2015), a co-taught course across two disciplines was created in the hopes of assisting teachers in developing collaborative skills to teach varied learners. According to Weiss et al. (2015), there are three inherent features of collaboration. The first is the Blind Date phase, where experiences, philosophies, and individual goals are shared. Weiss et al. (2015) explains that this phase may incorporate a sense of excitement and anticipation towards the novel experience of developing a professional, productive working relationship with a colleague. It was noted that this phase was short-lived, as the diverse disciplinary backgrounds and training proved different views on the same ideas (Weiss et al., 2015).
The second component of collaboration according to Weiss et al. (2015), is the Pushing Through phase. It was noted that teachers in this phase are confronted with frustrations and challenges, as ideas and goals may be similar but the “disciplinary perspectives” of how these ideas and goals are construed do not match (Weiss et al., 2015, p.94). Differing instructional perspectives included inquiry-based learning (GETs) versus strategic and direct instruction (SETs). The researchers had to establish intent on working together, rather than trying to change either side (Weiss et al., 2015). These tensions allowed the instructors to empathize with their students and to move out of their comfort zones (Weiss et al., 2015).
The last component of collaboration according to Weiss et al. (2015), is the Authentic Partnership. In this phase, disciplinary expertise became valued among colleagues. Views could be questioned on a professional level, enabling openness and an exchange of collaborative ideas
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(Weiss et al., 2015). The outcome of committing to these phases resulted in rich consideration of other perspectives and essential changes of views toward education and professional temperaments (Weiss et al., 2015).
According to the IDEIA of 2004, the implementation of Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) should include both the Special Education Teacher (SET) and the General Education Teacher (GET) to establish a successful experience of inclusion within the general education classroom (Jones, 2012). It was also noted that collaboration between SETs and GETs are not enough, paraprofessionals must be included in the process and implementation (Jones, 2012).
For this type of collaboration to be effective, Wallace et al. (2011) discusses the need for skills in both administration and management of on the part of the educators. Wallace et al. (2001), explained that effective communication; aligning schedules; matching strengths to assigned duties for the paraprofessionals; setting goals; establishing plans; and offering frequent feedback are fundamental in the successful implementations of IEPs within the inclusive classroom.
Co-planning & Consultation
In the study conducted by Jones (2012), Special Education Students at a Glance approach (SESG) was utilized to facilitate more collaboration between SETs, GETs, and paraprofessionals. There are three forms within the SESG approach. The first form is the Beginning of the Year form. GETs are required to complete these forms. They are to develop and apply a curriculum in conformity with the IEP that was developed by the IEP team (Jones, 2012). Jones (2012) noted the importance of appropriately implementing the established IEP. Failure to do so would not only impact the student’s learning and affect the teacher’s appraisal, but could also have legal implications (Jones, 2012). Including due process hearings involving personal lawsuits to districts being held accountable for lost services (Jones, 2012). It is necessary for
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GETs and paraprofessionals to be knowledgeable and confident when implementing the goals and objectives established within the IEPs. This makes the need for interdisciplinary collaboration salient. The SESG-BOY form serves as a format for GETs to encapsulate all the key components of the IEP in a succinct manner (Jones, 2012). As indicated by Jones (2012), SETs only assist in the implementation of accommodations developed on the SESG-BOY form on a case by case basis. The goal of the SESG-BOY form is to enhance GETs experience with SETs forms and records, in addition to GETs ability to find relevant information (Jones, 2012). However, according to the Foley et al. (1998) study, the findings suggest that elementary teacher candidates lacked sufficient training in functional analysis.
The second form included in the SESG is the End of the Year report. This form allows GETs to reflect on successful instructional strategies for individual students with IEPs and pass this information along to the GET for the following year (Jones, 2012). This reflection documents specific approaches that were both, effective and not effective. It also entails accommodations that were helpful for the student, such as the type of instruction and learning preferences (Jones, 2012). This method of reflection can be very supportive for future GETs.
The last form of the SESG approach is called an Inclusion Running Record SESG-IRR. This form is used as a weekly assessment of the provisions provided by the paraprofessionals and the GETs, which is then monitored by the SETs (Jones, 2012). This log indicates day and time of services, the types of appropriate materials utilized, the type of instructional activity applied, and the amount of inclusion support provided for the specific time (Jones, 2012). The log is used to establish patterns in student and/ or teacher performance (Jones, 2012). As stated by Jones (2012), the SESG approach is intended to create instructional gains for those students
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with IEPs. General educators need coaching, formative, and summative assessment to support those students identified with special needs.
One necessary factor to consider is the issue raised in the article by Hundert (2007), discussing the traditional means in which intervention strategies and instructional modifications are designed by consultants or experimenters, with very little partnership or training with those individuals whom are implementing those strategies and modifications for the individual students identified with special needs. In the study conducted by Hundert (2007), the intention of the researcher was to examine if preschool classroom and resource teachers’ collaborative training on one specific intervention target could then provide teachers the ability to apply that training to other intervention targets, which were not discussed in the training. A potential cost-effective alternative to providing consultation and training for each individual child with a special need would be to train teachers to develop inclusive class interventions (Hundert, 2007). Strategies for arranging environments to evoke child target behaviors and actions to embed instruction, prompts and feedback within classroom procedures, were taught to teachers. Classroom plans were then modified by the teacher teams based on the content of their training, which was provided by their supervisor (Hundert, 2007). Three important results emerged from this study: first, increased commitment to implementations resulted from teachers ability to create their own interventions; second, teachers that were able to develop their own interventions were able to modify interventions to fit the specific needs of individual children and procedures of the daily setting; third, it may be a cost-effective way to deliver services within the inclusive preschool classroom (Hundert, 2007).
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Working Conditions
School/district culture, administrative and collegial support that is specific to instructional assistance, instructional materials, instructional grouping, time for instruction, and time for planning are the six working conditions that were found to potentially impact SET’s teaching quality, as stated in the article by Bettini et al. (2016). It was also found that smaller classroom sizes and those comprised of students with similar needs, influence the efficacy of SETs instruction (Bettini et al., 2016). It is the obligation of policy makers, school leaders, and researchers to provide optimum learning conditions for efficacious instructional delivery (Bettini et al., 2016).
In addition, it is necessary to consider the pressures and challenges that present themselves to first year teachers. According to the Griffin et al. (2008) article, role ambiguity, complex behavioral and academic challenges of students, heavy caseloads, curricula and technical resource deficiencies, inadequate administrative support, insufficient time for planning, collaboration and professional development, excessive procedural demands, are all amongst these first-year obstacles. And the role expectations of special educators are changing. Apart from the traditional role of the SETs, where small groups of children were removed from the classroom for specialized instruction (Griffin et al., 2008), amendments to IDEA require that students with learning disabilities be a part of an inclusive environment within the general education setting. (Griffin et al., 2008). According to the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Education (2015), students with significant disabilities displayed stronger cognitive and communication development when placed in inclusive learning environments than those students with disabilities that were placed in separate learning environments. However, within the inclusive classroom, collaboration is required for effective student achievement (Griffin et al., 2008).
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Griffin et al., (2008) explains that novice SETs are having difficulty balancing responsibilities, such as the dynamic between providing intensive individualized instruction and collaborating (e.g. co-teaching) with general education teachers. In the article, various obstacles impact the relationships between novice SETs and colleagues. Among these obstacles are time constraints, which impact their practice and ability to collaborate on curriculum or instructional strategies (Griffin et al., 2008). Accessibility to the general education curriculum is yet another component that affects novice SETs. Within this element is insufficient curricula and technical resources, lack of classroom materials, and financial difficulties within the district (e.g. textbooks and high-cost support technology) (Griffin et al., 2008). Novice SETs reported having positive relationships with general education teachers when they viewed learning as an accomplishment and felt supported by colleagues through communication and collaboration (Griffin et al., 2008).
Consistent with prior research, finding solutions, planning, joint problem solving, cooperation and effective communication are all essential components to collaboration (Jones, 2012). In fact, these elements of cohesiveness are vital for successful instruction of students with disabilities within the general education environment. Collaboration through in-service training, sharing professional literature, providing checklists to facilitate the identification of students with disabilities, all serve as the role in which special educators collaborate within the inclusive classroom (Jones, 2012).
The Present Study
Existing literature states the present barriers between the relationship of GETs and SETs. The impact of limited training, divergent pedagogies, the inhibiting components to adequate collaborative relationships, and working conditions impede the successful delivery of instruction to those students with disabilities within the inclusive classrooms. Because of the demands from
14


the IDEIA of 2004 placed on instructors within the inclusive classrooms, there is a dire call for attention to address these impediments to remedy them. Further insight into the phenomenon of obstacles that exist within these educator relationships can support role clarity, classroom cohesion, IEP implementation, and ultimately problem solving to improve learning for all preschool students. The purpose of the current study is to explore potential obstacles and solutions for maximizing collaboration between special and general educators within inclusive preschool classrooms. The researcher’s intention throughout this study is to establish essence among the participants’ experiences with the literature research. In addition, learning GETs and SETs perception of how they function in collaboration and how these educators perceive these potential barriers. In this study, it is the intention of the researcher to address the following questions: What are the barriers impacting the partnership between special and general educators within the inclusive preschool classroom? How are these challenges affecting the relationship between general and special educators within the inclusive preschool classroom? What are the advantages of collaboration between special and general educators within the inclusive preschool classroom? How do these advantages impact the partnership between special and general educators within the inclusive preschool classroom?
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CHAPTER THREE METHOD
Design
The research method was a phenomenology (Johnson & Christenson, 2017). The researcher chose this qualitative approach to determine if and how the participants’ experience phenomena of barriers and advantages within the collaborative relationship between general and special educators within the inclusive preschool classroom. It was essential to learn the educators’ perception of these phenomena, to describe their experiences accurately, for the purpose of addressing any barriers that inhibit successful collaboration within the inclusive preschool classroom. To do this, the researcher chose to study the collaborative functions among educators at Clarence Early Learning Center (CELC), which is a pseudonym, in a Midwestern state. For the purpose of anonymity, pseudonyms were also used for the participants, and the early learning center’s affiliations.
Clarence was a private early learning center affiliated with Pluto University. Because of this affiliation, Clarence worked collaboratively with the Mars Institute for Early Learning and Literacy. While the preschool program utilized the creative curriculum, the pre-K department had recently adopted the Curriculum 4 Learning (C4L) program. The school employed the Teaching Strategies Gold (TSG) assessment model to track student development and growth. CELC was unique in that staff had the option of continuing their education through the college of education at the University, using tuition credits. Another unique component to CELC was that they had the Clarence Inclusion Team (CIT). The team was available three days a week (Tuesday, Wednesday, & Thursday) for approximately ten hours each week. The CIT team worked directly with the teachers, primarily utilizing a consultative model. In this approach, this transdisciplinary team of specialists taught classroom teams to assess the needs of students who
16


displayed a developmental concern, provided recommendations and modeled strategies, and provided mentorship to support the classrooms.
Each classroom at CELC was assigned a CIT “point person.” According to the CIT team, each CIT member was assigned two “point” classrooms. Each month the CIT point person met with the master teacher and discussed whole class issues. CIT family meetings were another component in the collaborative relationship. They were held twice a year (12-month cycle), depending on which teacher in the classroom was assigned to the specific CIT kid depended on which teacher attended those meetings, along with the assigned CIT member and the family of the CIT child. An initial CIT family meeting was held at the beginning of the year, once it had been established that a student needed specific intervention. During this meeting, the family met with the assigned classroom teacher and a Clarence team member, goals were discussed, and a formalized plan was established. It was the responsibility of the classroom teachers to implement the recommendations designed by the CIT member. The CIT family meeting were arranged once more at the end of the year to discuss progress and new recommendations were developed by the CIT member. Outside of the CIT “point person” arrangement and the family CIT meetings, the CIT team went into a classroom on an “as needed” basis. This entailed a master teacher expressing concern over a child, at which point a CIT member arranged a time to observe the specific child within the classroom. After observation, strategies for the student were established if need be. The student did not require an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) in order to receive services from the CIT team.
According to the master teacher participants, some CIT members pull small groups of children to the side to facilitate. An example of this would be the Social Worker (CIT member), she facilitated a weekly social skills group in various classrooms. The CIT team also supports
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Clarence classrooms through CIT Intensives. This was when a classroom was in distress due to classroom dynamics or the severe needs of a specific child. This was a whole group effort, where all CIT members step into the classroom for a two-week period. During that time the CIT members modeled strategies and observed and made recommendations and led small groups. After the two-week period, a formalized plan was established, and gaps were looked at. From there the classroom teachers followed up with administrators during reflective supervision meetings to make sure that progress was continuing.
According to the master teachers, those reflective supervision meetings occurred every other month and were divided into three elements; one meeting was held individually between the master teacher and the director, while a separate meeting was held between the associate teachers, individually, and the assistant director. In addition, the team met together once a month with an administrator to discuss whole class concerns. Goals were established at the beginning of the year and the reflection of those goals occurred throughout the year. Based on the inclusive and collaborative nature of CELC and their consultative approach through the CIT team, the researcher had determined that CELC met the necessary requirements to conduct this study.
As an instrument in this research, the researcher found it necessary to elaborate on the history of her background to allow lucidity in the purpose and intention of this study, beyond the scope of what current research states. With a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Human Development and an emphasis in Early Childhood Education, in addition to ten years of teaching experience, of which the first 4 of those years were in a Midwestern Head Start program, the researcher had personal experience in the collaboration process with special educators within the inclusive preschool classroom. The researcher also experienced the pressures and uncertainties of being accountable for the implementation of IEPs. During the 2017-2018 school year, the researcher
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had the opportunity of working in a center-based Autism preschool program. This experience allowed the researcher to understand and practice various methods of early intervention, particularly through Applied Behavior Analysis. Of these approaches the most notable being Discrete Trial Training, where a skill is broken up into many simplified steps. It was with this experience, along with an Early Intervention graduate course, that the researcher began to recognize the range of early intervention procedures. In addition to the year in the center-based preschool classroom, the researcher has worked the past five months as a special education paraprofessional across all the preschool classrooms within the child development center.
Due to the researcher’s extensive background in general education, the researcher must bracket preconceptions and learned theories while conducting this study. To do this, the researcher engaged in memoing (Johnson & Christensen, 2017), a process of noting and reflecting on personal thoughts and insights throughout data collection and analysis.
Participants
The participants included general educators and special educators within Clarence Early Learning Center. Due to these individuals’ ability to provide information necessary to address the grounds for this research, the researcher chose purposeful sampling, coined by qualitative researcher, Patton (1987, 1990; as cited in Johnston & Christensen, 2017). In this purposeful sample, participants included: four Master teachers (MTs) and three Clarence Intervention Team members. Among the staff was a wide array of education and experience. All the master teachers had a bachelor’s degree, two of which were in Early Childhood Education (ECE). The two master teachers with a degree in ECE were enrolled in a master’s program at CELC’s affiliated University, the Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) program and the Curriculum and Instruction program. Both teachers had the master teacher position in the two preschool
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classrooms at CELC for approximately two years. A third master teacher had a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction and had been a master teacher in a pre-K classroom for two years, with 18 years of teaching experience. The fourth master teacher had worked in a pre-K classroom for eight years, with over 16 years of teaching experience. Of the three specialists on the CIT team: one was an Early Interventionist with a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and master’s degree in Educational Psychology, plus Board Certified Behavior Analysist (BCBA); one was a Speech pathologist with a master’s degree in Communication Disorders; and one was a Social Worker with a master’s degree in Social Work. This transdisciplinary team of specialists worked together to consult with the preschool and pre-K classrooms to facilitate the needs of those students with special needs.
While the range was wide, it was determined by the researcher that each participant was qualified in some way as a credible participant for this study. Each participant agreed to be a part of this study. All participants signed and returned a consent form for this study (see Appendix A). Each participant was informed of their right to withdraw at any time. The participants were also informed of the purpose of this study and understood that the information from this study would be kept private and no names would be used. For confidentiality purposes, the researcher utilized letters A and B to distinguish different participant quotes throughout the results. Prior to conducting this study, the researcher received approval from the Colorado Multiple Institutional Review Board.
Instrumentation and Data Collection
A qualitative interview (see Appendix B) was the method of data collection. As such, the interview guide approach was utilized, it was more structured than informal conversation and includes interview procedure listing open-ended questioning and probes (Johnson & Christensen,
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2017). Questions were asked in any given order and wording was changed at the researcher’s discretion. The interview format was a four-tiered approach: part one, had 6 questions pertaining to demographics, adapted from Morgan (2016) and Conderman & Johnston-Rodriguez (2009); part two, had 9 open-ended questions pertaining to collaboration, adapted from Morgan (2016); part three, had 4 open-ended questions pertaining to teaching and experience, derived from the researcher; part four, had 5 open-ended questions pertaining to experience, adapted from Conderman & Johnston-Rodriguez (2009). All interviews were audio recorded.
Over a period of five weeks, data were collected from the Early Learning Center. A total of seven interviews were conducted with the seven educators. Each interview took approximately 45-60 minutes to complete and an average of two interviews occurred each week. Interviews were held at the early learning center, in a private space where the participant and researcher were not interrupted. The researcher followed the script of questions previously established (see Appendix B). Based on the information learned from the first two interviews, questions that were found to be redundant were skipped and elaboration on the perception of specific systems and functions were requested of the other participants (e.g. perception of teacher preparation programs, perception on the frequency of meetings, thoughts on ELOs). Throughout each interview, the researcher checked in with the participant to ensure comprehension of participant meaning and engaged in active feedback with the participants. The data collected comprised of personal experiences and opinions of the master teachers and Clarence Inclusion team members. After each interview was conducted, the researcher began to transcribe the recorded notes taken from each interview. During this process the names were removed, and numbers took the place of participants names. All data were collected and transcribed by the researcher into text documents. The researcher emailed participants, following the interviews, for
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clarification on specific statements and/ or elaboration on experiences that required further insight, as needed.
Data Analysis
As data were collected and transcribed, the analysis began. The researcher searched for significant statements (Johnson & Christensen, 2017) throughout participants’ responses from the transcribed data. The researcher chunked and coded the data and then identified the themes. The relationship between the accruing data and identified themes were analyzed through the constant comparative method (Johnson & Christensen, 2017). As themes emerged from the collected data, the researcher began to look for patterns between participant perceptions and experiences. Diagrams were created to assist in interpreting data (see Appendix E, F, G, & H).
As the researcher began to develop meaning from the participants’ responses, it was established that more analysis was required to generate complete understanding and interpretation of the collected data.
Here, a classical content analysis (Johnson & Christensen, 2017) began. The data were previously segmented into meaningful units, categories. The researcher took these units and assigned them codes. From this process, the researcher generated a table of inductive codes, in which a master list was established (see Appendix C & D). The researcher began sorting and comparing codes to summarize the information. Through the procedure of enumeration (Johnson & Christensen, 2017), the researcher was able to determine how frequently the codes emerged in the data. From this process hierarchical relationships appeared, as shown on the constructed tables. In the second stage of coding, it was necessary to create sub-categories based on the initial codes obtained from the master list. A table was constructed for each sub-category (see Appendix I, J, K, & L). With these additional tables and through the enumeration process, the
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researcher was able to identify which components within the sub-categories took precedence, according to participant responses. The diagrams and tables assisted in organizing and summarizing the qualitative data, with the intention of clarifying relationships between all these parts. The researcher searched for relationships and differences among participant responses, in addition to the relationship between the participant responses and the literature research. This process was repeated until saturation was reached.
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CHAPTER FOUR RESULTS
Four major themes emerged from the data analysis. The first, lack of time and heavy caseload were found to impact the specialists’ ability to follow up consistently with the master teachers, CIT members were not consistent in assuring that intervention recommendations were being practiced and measured. While lack of master teacher training in both intervention strategies and leadership were found to negatively impact communication between the specialists and master teachers. The second theme details the advantages within this collaborative dynamic that were found to be influenced by the CIT point person system. Master teacher perception of support manifested due to the sense of common goals, voluntary engagement, and shared responsibilities established within this working partnership. Through this system, a trusting relationship emerged. The last two themes involve working conditions and program incentives that were found to impact master teacher perceptions, as well. Insufficient planning time, curricula and technical deficiencies, and inadequate administrative support were found to impact master teacher perception negatively. While classroom ratio, student support, and program incentives were found to impact master teacher perception positively. Each theme will be described with quotes from the data.
Time and Caseload
Time and caseload were found to impact the CIT teams’ ability to consistently and effectively collaborate with the master teachers. The researcher noticed that sub-categories developed (see Appendix C). Time and caseload were found to negatively impact follow up on the part of the CIT members, to ensure that those accommodations were practiced and properly implemented. As explained below:
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Researcher:
For you, what types of collaboration do you feel are most successful? Either occurring now or that you would like to see?
Master Teacher A:
I think within our collaboration with the CIT team, there could be some better follow up strategies.. .it is so hard to do, so I totally understand that they’re not going to be able to work in every classroom the way they want to. Um, but I feel like there could be a better way to do things. Just in a sense in working with the children on the CIT team. We have a meeting every six months...
Researcher:
Is that enough?
Master Teacher A:
I don’t think so... especially for the children on the CIT team, cause they are just progressing and regressing so much, fluctuating throughout the year. Because it’s a twelve-month program. So, it’s just that so much happens throughout the year that you just need to have communication! And sometimes with meetings every six months, you just lose track of something and it’s hard to really stay on track with that progress.
Below the hierarchical barrier components (e.g. Time and Caseload) emerged an additional subcategory of lack of communication, on both sides. As a result of lack of time and heavy caseload, CIT members were not able to communicate with master teachers to the extent needed by the teachers. Triangulation (Johnson & Christenson, 2017) among participant responses validated that lack of time directly impacted access to caseload, which then inhibited successful communication among educators; as a result of disrupted communication, time available was not properly used and caseload was negatively impacted (see Appendix G & H). Due to the CIT members limited numbers of hours available each week, the members were not able to be available for each classroom in the capacity that was needed by the master teachers. As a result, master teachers were not able to provide feedback and ask questions that arose in terms of the recommendations that were developed by the CIT members. As explained below by two CIT members:
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CIT Member A:
And in the other classrooms (preschool and pre-K), it is more of a consultative model that is used. Which I think still has been successful overall, I think it can be very successful with more hours. But because there are so many classrooms, as I said, I feel stretched-thin often and I don’t know that in the other rooms I get the opportunity to go as deep as I would like. A lot of the strategies and conversations are, I feel, a little bit more surface-level.
CIT Member B:
Um, I think follow up is probably one thing. It’s hard because we are only here two-three days a week and there are how many kids here? And teachers? When you are here ten hours a week.. .Um, being consistent with, “OK we’re focusing on this kid”.. .and now I’m gone from Thursday until next Tuesday and another fire has come up. I may not be consistent with getting back to the teacher and finding out what happened in the past few days. And they might not be so consistent in following through with a strategy, because I’m not there for them to ask questions and say, “We tried it, but I don’t really understand what we are doing!” They are going to have to wait five days for me to come back! So that is probably the most difficult thing, in terms of really making sure things are consistent. It’s hard!
As explained above, with more hours available each week, CIT members would have the capacity to better meet the needs of the classrooms. Additionally, with more hours each week, the CIT team would be better able to manage their ability to follow up with those classrooms in need of more support.
Teacher Training and Support
Themes arose in regard to teacher preparation program and professional development for the master teachers. Master teachers reported feeling unprepared to work with students with disabilities. It was expressed that teacher preparation programs did not adequately prepare the teachers to work within the inclusive classroom. Additionally, master teachers expressed a need for more training in intervention strategy implementation and measurement. Below is a dialogue with both master teachers who have a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education, discussing teacher preparation program and embedded learning opportunities:
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Researcher:
What was the most useful aspect of your teacher preparation program that prepared you to work within the inclusive classroom?
Master Teacher A:
Undergrad.. .not so much! My early childhood education experience was more about learning to be in a classroom. Working here, I feel like has done more than my formal education has, just the experience. And that is not to say that things were not explained or learned about. But you don’t learn until you do, me at least, so and those could be lectures that I forgot about. Or maybe it was more about policy and IDEA and all that stuff...
Researcher:
How do you feel about progress monitoring in your classroom? Would you say it is a priority?
Master Teacher B:
That’s definitely something that could be improved! And that’s why the embedded learning opportunities have been implemented in every classroom., because there was no way of seeing if something was working.
Researcher:
Do you feel like you need more training in embedded learning opportunities?
Master teacher B:
I might be the only one, but I think I might need a little more of a background in the development and implementation of the embedded learning opportunities. I think it’s a learning process for sure! I think every teacher is on the same boat with that. It’s definitely a learning process, sometimes you do it right and sometimes you do it wrong. But obviously, the more training, the better.. .in every intervention we implement. So I definitely would love more of a background in that.
The lack of background in intervention strategies for these master teachers required them to rely on the CIT members to a greater extent than the CIT members were able to provide, regarding the training services required. Additionally, lack of master teacher training in leadership and large CIT member caseload were found to influence the teachers’ ability to follow through with specific recommendations and intervention strategies put in place by the CIT team, for the CIT
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kids. Two of the CIT members spoke in detail on their views regarding master teachers need for
training in communication and leadership, specifically:
CIT member A:
And another thing my team talks a lot about that would support the teachers and for me it definitely speaks to a communication need in the staff, is master teacher training in leadership. There are probably 40-50% of master teachers in the current role who deeply struggle with leadership. They have a really hard time communicating with their team and with authority about things that need to be done and how they as a master teacher recommend that the team move forward.
CIT member B:
There are young master teachers working with older associate teachers...so there is experience versus education and knowledge or degrees, which don’t always mean the same thing (degree equal knowledge). But when you’re trying to manage older or people with more experience, even when you know in your heart, it’s hard to take that charge and be confident in those skills.
In addition to leadership training, below is a CIT member addressing their heavy caseload:
Each CIT member is assigned to two classrooms, as their CIT liaison. We touch base every week. We have monthly meetings with them. And that is going well.
But we have so many things, responsibilities and so many things pulling us in different directions that there are some classrooms that feel like they’ve been forgotten. And in some ways, they are...
Due to the lack of leadership and management training for these master teachers, CIT member were having to assist in the managing of classroom dynamics. According to both, CIT members and master teachers, the following categories in training and P.D. included (see Appendix I & J) intervention strategies and assessment, specifically embedded learning opportunities (ELOs); Pyramid Plus training, specifically Universal strategies and classroom management; curriculum implementation; cooperation and leadership skills; technology training; while training in Teaching Strategies Gold was needed for the CIT members, all of which impacted the collaborative relationship between the master teachers and the CIT team members. A response


similar to the CIT team addressing the need for better master teacher communication and leadership within the inclusive classroom, according to one of the master teachers is as follows:
Master teacher:
I would love to have my team attend the monthly meetings with the CIT team.
Because right now it’s just me with the CIT team, but my team should also be involved...We just recently implemented Embedded Learning Opportunities and I was new to that. And it seems simple, it’s just one extra thing to do! And I always forget! And I could communicate better with my team. It’s my responsibility to make it a team effort.
Value Differences
Further analysis of data indicated differences in attitudes and beliefs between the educators (see Appendix E, F & K). CIT members believed that the master teachers should have a better understanding and background in basic classroom functions, such as universal strategies, classroom management, and curriculum implementation (see Appendix I & F). Two of the CIT members spoke in detail on their views regarding their beliefs about the master teachers lack of knowledge in intervention and classroom management and how that impacted their ability to do their job effectively:
CIT member A:
We realized that before we can even monitor how the kids are doing, we aren’t even sure if the teachers are implementing the strategies! And that is a precursor to evaluating the child’s progress! You can’t even evaluate their progress if no supports are in place. You’re just maintaining baseline at that point! I don’t need more baseline data. And I don’t need it to look like the child is not making progress, when the issue is that you’re not providing the interventions!
CIT member B:
I’ll tell you the thing that’s currently going on in this building, there’s a lot of turnover and there’s also not a firm grasp in terms of what the curriculum is by some of the master teachers.. .if they don’t know what to go back to, then it’s hard to support them sometimes! So, I guess better collaboration would mean.. .(pause).. .less triage! Sometimes we are just putting out fires or managing, sometimes it’s just teacher dynamics.
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The master teachers believed that it was the responsibility of the CIT members to follow up with the them on the accommodations and intervention strategies prescribed for the CIT students to ensure their proper implementation and fidelity of data assessment was maintained (see Appendix E & K). Master teachers also indicated that a need for more frequent Family CIT meetings and time for more formal meetings through classroom consultation with the CIT members would support them in being more effective with those strategies recommended for the CIT kids, by the CIT team. Below are two master teachers’ perspective on why it is necessary for the CIT team to provide structured, consistent training in working with the various needs of the CIT kids.
Master Teacher A:
...Just like, we are doing all we can! But I’m not a specialist and I don’t have that. I have tricks up my sleeve, but I don’t know if they are appropriate or the right thing to be doing, things like that.
Researcher:
So, it’s sounds like you need more training time with CIT members and follow up on those recommendations provided?
Master Teacher A:
Yes. And maybe reflection. Like meeting with us! We have a curriculum specialist...so she does a lot of observing us as teachers. She will record us, so we can reflect on it. I feel like that with the children would be helpful also. Like “This is how you were interacting with the children and this is how you could do it to make sure their goals are met...” I feel like we get a lot of quick conversations in the hallway (with CIT team), but we don’t have very many “sit downs and let’s talk about progress” if it’s not meeting with mom and dad (Family CIT meetings)... So yes, for me and my team, I think it would be very helpful! And probably throughout the year, but more so at the beginning of the year when we are getting to know those kids. When we are figuring out those best practices right off the bat, before we get into some bad habit that isn’t the right way to be doing it.. .if that makes sense?
Master teacher B:
We try to use I-pads, we use a lot of technology to video-tape events so, but years ago we did not have this technology. But not having them (CIT members) in the
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Master Teacher B continued:
classroom as much is definitely a barrier! Cause I don’t want to start doing the wrong thing the whole time, like “Oh OK we’ve been doing this for a month and now you’re telling me we should have been doing it this way?! Woops!”
Master teachers expressed concern in implementing the wrong intervention strategy or
beginning the development of bad habits due to the lack of support and guidance from the
CIT members on a consistent basis.
Benefits of CIT Support
While there were barriers that emerged from the perspectives of the educators’ collaborative relationship, advantages within the working relationship between the CIT team and master teachers surfaced, as well. The benefit of having the Family CIT meetings and having the CIT team observe in the classrooms, were two current systems that support the master teachers (see Appendix L). There was also a collaborative consensus from both fields on how the “point person” system in place was effective at CELC. With each classroom assigned a CIT point person, a continuity existed between the master teacher and assigned CIT point person. Through this continuity, a trusting relationship was noted to have emerged based on the feedback. Below is one of the master teacher participant’s perception:
Master Teacher:
Having our CIT point person to review strategies that we are implementing or facilitating a group a) I can watch, but then b) she is getting her eyes on the kids and is able to determine if that specific child needs more work. So, I think it is a team aspect, where I can sit at a center with her, but let her facilitate the center for support.... She will directly share with the families who are a part of those groups, instead of relying on teachers to give that feedback. She is more of a team member with us, when it comes to the parents.
The collaborative relationship between the CIT members and the families, which provides
education and bridges gaps between the services their child is receiving at school and how that
can be adapted at home, was noted by four participants to be a big support for the classroom
teachers (see Appendix D). As one CIT member explains below:
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Researcher:
What types of collaboration do you feel are most successful? Why?
CIT member A:
I think consultation with the teachers and helping them to develop strategies and educating them on certain things... Secondly, parent meetings. That has been wonderful, it gets “buy in” and helps the parents feel like they are being heard. A lot of times these are young parents or new parents and they just need a little reassurance, and some supports and education...
The CIT team collaborative relationship with the parents of those students receiving services from the team, was expressed to be a supporting factor in the master teacher and CIT member collaborative relationship.
Working Conditions
While barriers and advantages reflective of the research questions emerged through the constant comparative analysis, the researcher also discovered themes that were not related to the research questions. Specifically, themes that emerged within the barriers for the master teachers that were not directly influenced by the collaborative relationship with the CIT members included: lack of teacher planning time; too many meetings (committee meetings and reflective supervision meetings); teacher turn over; dislike for the C4L program; and the TSGs not being an efficient system in general, including not being a reflective measure of CIT kid growth (see Appendix E, I, J & K). Rather, these barriers were influenced by the current working conditions. Master teachers expressed feelings of being overwhelmed by their caseload due to lack of planning time and too many meetings. As noted below:
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Master Teacher A:
So, we have a department specialist. She comes in, well not lately because a staff member is out and she is filling-in for that person. But in theory, we have someone come in once a week, on any given day, to give us some relief and time to do things outside of the classroom... it doesn’t always work out that way! Frequently, we do not have planning time.
Master Teacher B:
We have a department specialist, so usually we switch off planning each week among the classroom teachers. And we try to do TSG documentation during that time too, but doing documentation, planning, and getting things prepped.. .is a lot to do in the two hours we are allowed...that is if we are not short-staffed (planning time).
Master Teacher A:
I feel like the committees, we have too many of them, to the point where..I
mean they all do good things. They are all useful, but I’m finding that, cause all of the meetings usually happen at 2pm. And each teacher is encouraged to sign up for two committees at the beginning of the year. So, my associates and myself are all on committees and they happen at least once a week! And 2pm is the thick of our lunch breaks and so there are days when I am not taking a break, because my other teachers have to go to meetings, or I am letting them take their breaks and Fll stay. A part of me wishes that the meetings could happen at the end of the day...cause at nap time, it’s hard when we are used to three (teachers) and there’s only two of us to put them down (kids), it’s substantial!
Master Teacher B:
So, we have a master teacher meeting once a every three weeks, then we have the associate teacher meetings once every three weeks, so we are checking in with administration at least twice to discuss classroom business. Then we have Master teacher B continued:
reflective supervision meetings at least once a month, as a class and individually... so that’s a lot of meetings!
In terms of teacher turn over, the curriculum and TSG assessment tool, some of the responses included:
Researcher:
Is teacher turn over a problem at Clarence?
Master Teacher A:
We go through waves. Like one year can be really bad and I feel like we lose a bunch of people and then the next year, we lose one. Where we have had a hard time keeping some of the quality teachers is because we have the Mars Institute.
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Master Teacher A continued:
You can take classes and so if I’m studying Early Childhood Special Education, after I graduate, I can go to DPS or Jefferson county and make tons more money than I am here! Pay is always the main thing...
Master Teacher B:
It (C4L curriculum) is very scripted and I have been teaching a long time, I have a hard time following a script...And so, I am at this stage where they are like, “This is the letter W, W starts..you know, and my kids are bored out of their mind, because they are reading! This curriculum does not meet my kids where they are! And I feel like, first of all, it causes boredom, discontent, and disruption! And I feel like I am not meeting their (kids) needs.
Master Teacher A:
For teachers, a negative part of documentation would be, we take pictures or input into TSGs, but finding the time to go back and give a description of what was going on there is where the time frame comes into play. I think the technology aspect of it can be done so quickly, using a phone or voice recorder, but getting that to the CIT team is hard. You have to download it and putting it in the email, and then sending it... The convenience of having a system that we could share in a more immediate way.
Researcher:
Do you have something in the TSG framework where those students with special needs, their progress is able to be measured accurately, where they are developmentally?
Master teacher A:
No, that’s a negative part about it! I didn’t think of that and that’s a great point. Because with TSG that’s a negative thing for our kids with IEPs or IFSPs. So it looks like they are not making any progress. And so.. .1 don’t ever share that kind of information. It’s really documentation that I share with families. It’s like they are making such great strides, you just don’t see it on this continuum of a typical child. And even when we see our kids, like they do this consistently, but with TSG stuff, the kids who are excelling really high.. .you just don’t see it! And it’s like, I know they can count to 100! But it’s not even an option to input! Or for the level of age range that they are at!
Based on the master teacher responses, planning time was a large component in the discussion of working barriers, in addition to the frequency of meetings. Teacher turn-over was noted to be an issue due to the completion of student teacher programs and not enough pay for the teachers. The
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pre-K master teachers also expressed discontent with the new C4L curriculum, in its ability to accurately meet the developmental needs of the students. In addition, the master teachers agreed that the TSG was not an efficient system in sharing information, nor was it a reflective measure for those students who were not typically developing.
Benefits at Clarence Early Learning Center
Likewise, the researcher identified benefits that emerged from the data analysis that were
beyond the scope of the relationship between the CIT team and the master teachers. Benefits such as: student to teacher ratio within the classrooms; co-teaching within the classrooms between master and associate teachers; tuition credits that staff received from the University to further their education; and department specialist support. As described below:
Master Teacher A:
So, we switch off every week, planning the lessons, so everyone gets a chance to teach the way they want or at least have the kids explore the materials in a different way...So we each probably have about 8 kids that we track for a few months and then we switch and so there we get to work with all of the children at different times of the year. And that has been a new thing that I haven’t done in the past. And I think that has also helped with our sense of community and that cooperation piece (for the kids and teachers).
Master Teacher B:
My children, one of them is at the University, so she gets a tuition waver, which is enormous! And then I have another child who will be coming along, hopefully to the University, and will get the same discount. So, I anticipate that I will be here (CELC) at least another eight years.
Master Teacher A:
One day a week, we get an extra support staff member (department specialist)
...we can’t always get out together (classroom teachers) and that’s a negative thing. But at least we can do separate planning, documentation, and input TSGs.
So at least one day a week, unless we need coverage, we get planning time. We are super fortunate with that!
A large consensus among the master teachers were the classroom team collaborations (see Appendix K). The tuition credits were another component that provided incentive for the
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teachers at CELC. The master teachers also recognized the privilege of having a department specialist to assist with teacher planning time.
Conflicting Responses
The researcher noticed that implicit meanings emerged among participant responses, specifically pertaining to the need for more training in classroom management and intervention strategies. For example, a pattern arose between the seasoned master teachers and the novice master teachers. While the novice teachers expressed a need for more training in leadership, intervention, and were explicit in their direct lack of understanding and concern regarding the ELOs, expressing a desire to learn more, as follows below:
Master Teacher A:
At the beginning of the year, the CIT team were a large part of the room. Because of a new student we had.. .it was very tumultuous for the first month! I hadn’t had much experience with children with those needs, so I didn’t know what to do. I was scared.. .it was completely new to me and I needed their (CIT team) help a lot to guide me on best practices and how to do that.
While the seasoned teachers did not express a need for training in leadership or communication skills. Additionally, they tended to talk over the need for intervention training, rather expressing their comfort level in working with children of various needs due to experience within the classroom. Seasoned teachers also expressed comfort in implementing the strategies that the CIT team provided. Yet when the researcher probed on intervention strategies implemented within those classrooms, vague responses were given. As the dialogue between the researcher and a seasoned master teacher explains below:
Researcher:
What are your current training needs with regard to professional development?
What would serve you most?
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Master Teacher A:
Hmm. I feel like we are really fortunate cause we get a ton of training. Umm, like we just had a training on Monday... So, we had a woman who works on campus in this organization and so they talked to us about infant and parent mental health and how post-partum not only goes with moms, but dads too. It was a really nice discussion and something that I feel like we are not always privy too. Especially not being in the infant classroom. Umm. But looking forward, I think like anything.. .like it’s hard. We’ve had like diversity and general things. But our population is not diverse. It’s helpful when we are trying to become a more diverse environment, but if we don’t have that population, we can’t apply it. So, I think it’s really hard. Because I feel like I have been through a lot of training. I would love to take more classes!
In the dialogue above, the seasoned master teacher seemed to talk around specific current training needs. When the researcher asked about what types of classes the teacher was interested taking. Her responses continued to be elusive, as follows:
Master teacher A:
Because my background is not in early childhood education and I’ve taken several over the years. But really having the opportunity, even with the Mars Institute right here, 1) they don’t have any, if I just wanted to get an undergrad in ECE, they don’t have an undergrad program here. So, I can go through the University college and we are fortunate that we get tuition credits, but then it’s like a whole round-about or the classes are offered at a time that we have no flexibility.
Additionally, when the inquiry about the ELOs came up, responses that were not very clear
continued, as the dialogue below entails:
Researcher:
Do you feel comfortable implementing the ELOs?
Master Teacher B:
The ELOs?
Researcher:
The Embedded Learning Opportunities. Master Teacher B:
The Embedded Learning Opportunities?
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Researcher:
Designed by the CIT team. With the tallying.
Master Teacher B:
Oh. Ok. Yes.. .The hmmm! Oh, I know what you’re talking about! Sometimes I don’t remember all of the acronyms. Yes. I did that last year with a little boy. So that was good.
Researcher:
Do you feel comfortable doing the ELOs?
Master Teacher B:
It takes a long time. But yes, it’s Ok. Yes, it was helpful.
However, according to the CIT participants, there was a need for training within these areas across all the master teachers (see Appendix F). In addition, a pattern of conflict emerged in response to the potential for specialist and master teacher co-teaching arrangements within the inclusive classroom, on a full-time basis. While all four of the master teachers expressed an interest in the possibility of this arrangement, noting an advantage of this plan included a merging of specialized backgrounds within the inclusive classroom. The CIT members, however, had no interest in such an arrangement.
As noted by one CIT member:
I have very high expectations when it comes to instruction that I provide. And if I teach with another professional, I have high expectations of what that would look like. I don’t want to “wing it” I don’t think that is effective.
Although, the view that the benefits of specialist co-teaching produce effective instruction delivery for all students (Kloo & Zigmond, 2008) is consistent with the feedback from the master teacher responses on the topic of specialist co-teaching, as described by one master teacher below:
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Master Teacher A:
I think so. There are different ways of co-teaching though, so you would need to find a system that would work for the team, but that is most beneficial for all of the children in the room.
I think that a general education teacher and a special education teacher have such a different way of viewing children and their learning, learning styles that they could bring in their different strategies. That would be beneficial to all of the children...
The master teachers were receptive to the idea of co-teaching with the specialist from the CIT team (see Appendix K). The CIT members were not interested in co-teaching with the master teachers.
Lastly, the topic of master teacher turn-over arose frequently. After close analysis of the
participant responses, it was determined by the researcher that the issue of teacher turn-over is
associated with the student teacher master programs and low pay. According to the responses,
once master teacher students complete their program at the University, they leave CELC. When
the researcher probed further into this phenomenon, the consensus among participants was that
there was no incentive for the master teacher students to stay.
As two participants explained below:
CIT member A:
So I mean.. .and it’s hard! My personal idea is if you paid a master teacher a good wage, better benefits and more time off, and they weren’t hourly employees...that is their incentive to stay!
Researcher:
Why do you think teacher turnover is so high at CELC?
CIT member B:
One of the main things is that many of the teachers here are students at the University and so when they graduate, there is not a great incentive for them to stay here because the pay is low.
The participants in this study explained that once teachers graduate from their program through the University, the incentive for them to remain at the early learning center was low. The main incentive discussed by the participants was the pay for master teachers. It was explained that the
39


pay for master teachers needed to be higher. The high rate of turnover was discussed as a negative impact on the collaborative relationship among the classroom and CIT member collaboration.
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CHAPTER FIVE DISCUSSION
There were four major findings that emerged from this current study. Responding to the first question regarding barriers between the collaborative relationship among the educators are lack of time and heavy caseload, they were found to impact the specialists’ ability to follow up consistently with the master teachers, inhibiting assurance that intervention recommendations were being practiced and measured. Additionally, lack of master teacher training in both intervention strategies and leadership were found to negatively impact communication between the specialists and master teachers. As to how these barriers impacted the working relationship, involves communication. CIT member frustration emerged because of feelings of being stretched-thin and overwhelmed, attempting to meet the needs of every classroom. While, master teachers’ fear of developing bad habits or implementing the wrong strategy emerged from the lack of consistent support by the CIT team. Responding to the last two questions, concerning the advantages of collaboration and how these benefits impact the working relationship, as perceived by the educators, were found to be influenced by the CIT point person system. Master teacher perception of support manifested due to the sense of common goals, voluntary engagement, and shared responsibilities established within this working partnership. Through this system, a trusting relationship was emerged. The third finding, divergent of the research questions, explain the barriers that exist outside of the collaborative relationship between CIT members and master teachers. Working conditions and program incentives were found to impact master teacher perceptions as well. Insufficient planning time, curricula and technical deficiencies, and inadequate administrative support were found to impact master teacher perception negatively. Similarly, the fourth finding discusses the advantages outside of the collaborative relationship
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between the CIT members and the master teachers. Classroom ratio, student support, and program incentives were found to impact master teacher perception positively.
The first finding includes the impact of the barriers of time, caseload, training and communication (see Appendix C & F) between the CIT team and master teachers. These results are similar to Wood (1998) and Griffin et al. (2008) studies in that pragmatic issues including time, caseload, and funding negatively impact the collaborative relationship between the specialist and teachers. According to the CIT members, due to the limited amount of time the CIT team was available to assist the classrooms each week, the quality of support delivered to each classroom was compromised because of the various classrooms and needs within those classrooms at Clarence Early Learning Center. Specifically, CIT members were not able to follow up with master teachers as frequently as both the CIT members and master teachers deemed necessary to ensure that the recommendations provided were both, implemented and effective for the needs of those students on the CIT team. As a result of the quality of support being compromised, communication between the CIT team and the teachers were directly impacted. CIT members expressed feelings of being overwhelmed and stretched-thin because of these time and caseload constraints. While the master teachers explain that they needed more classroom support from the CIT team to effectively implement the recommended strategies for those CIT students. Reflecting upon these findings, the researcher was reminded of the study conducted by Jones (2012). The approaches between the SESG and the Family CIT meetings were aligned, in addition to the assessment approach between the SESG-IRR and the ELO form. Based on the results of this study it is suggested that these methods alone, are simply not enough. The master teachers discussed a need for more support and time with the CIT members. The
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master teachers expressed a need for the CIT members to come into the classrooms and model interventions that were recommended, as a form of support and training.
In addition, due to lack of teacher program preparation and professional development, particularly in leadership and intervention strategies for the master teachers, CIT members expressed difficulty in doing their job effectively and efficiently. The findings suggested that the master teachers’ lack of follow through of the implementations of those intervention strategies assigned by the CIT team were associated with lack of teacher training in intervention strategies and lack of consistent support from the CIT members. Additionally, lack of master teacher training in leadership was associated with the classroom dynamic issues that the CIT team were responsible for triaging. These results suggest the need for larger system supports for teacher professional development, ongoing coaching and collaboration, which was also recommended by both Odom et al. (2011) and Foley et al. (1998). In addition, these findings support the research conducted by both Jones (2012) and Wallace et al. (2011), discussing the need for educator training in management and administration skills, in order to achieve successful collaboration between master teachers and associate teachers within the inclusive classroom. CIT members expressed frustration in having to manage classroom dynamics, rather than being able to focus on teaching the educators how to provide the services for those CIT children, given their time and caseload constraints.
The researcher noticed the current disparity in who designs the student intervention versus whom provides the student intervention, within the inclusive preschool classroom to be in accordance with the study conducted by Hundert (2007). Particularly, with master teacher issues raised around intervention training, implementation, and assessment. Based on the findings of the current study, CIT members were responsible for designing accommodations and
43


modifications for the CIT kids within the inclusive classroom. The master teachers relied on the
CIT family meetings and the CIT point person meetings to learn and understand the specific strategies developed by the CIT team. The findings in the study also suggest that the discord among the CIT team and master teachers were related to master teachers lack of automaticity in intervention, similar to the Robinson & Buly (2007) study and lack of availability by the CIT members.
Additionally, the current research suggest instruction in small-group interpersonal skills were lacking for both teachers and specialist, similar to the Wood (1998) study. The research indicates that because of this communication barrier, frustrations emerged from both fields (see Appendix D & F). Master teachers expressed a need for more focused support from CIT members and CIT members expressed a need for more focused training for the master teachers. This communication barrier echoes the same issues raised in the studies by Conderman & Johntson-Rodriguez (2009) and Odom et al. (2011), explaining that educators’ teaching practices placed less focus on tasks involving collaboration or consultation skills.
The second finding defines the advantages of the collaborative relationship between the CIT team and the master teachers within the inclusive classroom (see Appendix D, K, L). Both CIT members and the master teachers expressed appreciation for one another. Master teachers recognized the benefit of having the specialist available to support them at all. While the CIT members validated the heavy workload placed on the master teachers with their day to day responsibilities. Both fields discussed the benefit of having the “point person” system in place. With a CIT point person assigned to each classroom, continuity allowed for trusting relationships to develop. The CIT team and parent collaboration were also determined to support the classroom dynamic. This collaborative relationship made the master teachers feel supported by


the CIT members. This system of support for the master teachers by the CIT point person generated a trusting relationship, which is an essential component to ensure the success of an inclusive classroom as suggested in the study conducted by Morgan (2016).
While the consultative model was explained to be the primary collaborative approach between the CIT team and the preschool and pre-K classrooms, the researcher discovered that many other collaborative components existed within the working relationship between the CIT team and the master teachers. Additional forms included: co-teaching, cooperative teaming, informal and formal meetings, all components of collaboration discussed by Morgan (2016) and Van Garderen et al. (2012). Of these forms of collaborations, two were concluded by the master teachers to be most effective: formal meetings, in which CIT members teach strategy interventions and allow for feedback to be exchanged; and consultations, in which CIT members support and guide teachers in working with the CIT kids.
The third finding took a different direction in this research. Findings that did not directly reflect the collaborative relationship among the CIT members and the master teachers, but still presented a barrier for the master teachers. These barriers were found to be related to instructional assistance, instructional materials, and time for planning, as mentioned in the study by Bettini et al. (2016), consistent with working conditions that impact teaching quality. The pre-K master teachers expressed frustration over the new C4L curriculum. Both teachers felt that the literacy part of the curriculum did not meet their students where they were academically. The frequency of committee meetings and productivity of the group reflective supervision meetings were also discussed to be aspects that felt overwhelming and exasperating for the teachers. It was suggested by the master teachers, a need to have less of these types of meetings and more, consistent teacher planning time.
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Additionally, similar to the study by Griffin et al. (2008), the researcher discovered through the findings that Clarence’s novice preschool master teachers struggled in similar ways as the novice special educators. Specific examples included complex behavior and academic challenges of students, heavy caseloads, curricula and technical resource deficiencies, inadequate administrative support, insufficient time for planning, and collaboration and professional development. The seasoned master teachers also expressed concern regarding heavy caseload, curricula and technical resource deficiencies, inadequate administrative support, and insufficient time for planning. A large component of the master teachers’ circumvention had to do with the TSGs and its lack of efficiency in sharing documentation across systems and how it was not an accurate measure of progress for those students with developmental delays.
The fourth finding, parallel to the third finding in terms of directional veering, explained the advantages master teachers view, as a result of working at Clarence Early Learning Center. These advantages included student to teacher ratio within the classrooms; classroom team collaboration; tuition credits and benefits that staff receive; and support from the department specialist, when consistent. One inconsistency was found between the study by Bettini et al., (2016) and the findings of the current research. In the article, small classroom size was found to influence the efficacy of instruction and classroom ratio was not. However, master teachers in the current study expressed value in having three adults to twenty students. As one master teacher explained below:
Since we have three teachers in the classroom, we are able to take a break (during high-intense classroom moments), to go for 5 minutes and grab a coffee or take a walk outside.....because sometimes I have to!
Master teachers also expressed how much they valued working collaboratively with their associate teachers. Emphasis on individual team member strengths, sharing of responsibility for
46


the CIT students, co-teaching, sharing the decision-making process were among the attributes of the classroom team. This collaborative dynamic was mentioned in the studies conducted by Wallace et al. (2001) and Jones (2012).
Additional findings concluded that the school was unique in that it provided teacher support through the CIT team. CELC recognized the importance of development in the early years and early intervention, by encouraging the CIT team to provide services to those children who did not qualify for an IEP, yet still displayed developmental concerns. Moreover, because of Clarence’s affiliation with the University, the staff were provided opportunities to further their education through tuition credits. This was discussed as a large incentive in working at CELC. Mars Institute also provided support through training and consultation for the school. And CELC prioritized families as partners in learning and collaboration among the staff for the children. All these components were described by the participants to be advantages of working at Clarence Early Learning Center (see Appendix D & K).
Implications
Based on the findings of this study, teacher preparation programs might consider developing and implementing collaborative-based activities, including assessment approaches, communication strategies, and conflict resolution skills as suggested by Foley et al. (1998). Additional findings suggest that Clarence Early Learning Center may consider ongoing professional development training in leadership skills, universal strategies, and intervention strategies. The findings also suggest the need for larger school systems, specifically administration, to advocate for more resources toward teacher planning time and time for collaboration among special and general educators.
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Future Research
Based on the limitations of this research, it is suggested that future research consider including multiple early learning centers, particularly centers that reflect the diverse community, when investigating the barriers between general and special educators’ collaborative relationship within the inclusive classroom. Additionally, it is suggested that future research utilize multiple methods of data collection. In addition to interviews, perhaps administering surveys or questionnaires to measure the full scope of participant perception and collaboration. Multiple coders are also suggested in future research within the purview of a study, for the purpose of strengthening reliability. Future research should investigate the benefits of a collaborative-based training for educators in the development of their own intervention strategies and the benefits of teacher preparation programs incorporating training on leadership and inter-personal skills, including group communication, problem-solving, and conflict resolution.
Conclusion
The promotion of inclusion and the quality of instruction are reliant on the successful collaboration between the special and general educators within the inclusive preschool classroom (Morgan, 2016). The findings of this study were reinforced by Robinson & Buly (2007) and Wood’s (1998) work on theoretical perspectives between these two fields. Differences in training, communication, and value systems directly impact collaborative relationship between the two fields. Because of the demands from the IDEIA of 2004 placed on instructors within the inclusive classrooms, there is a necessary call for attention to address these concerns. Additional awareness into the phenomena of obstacles that exist within these educator relationships can support role clarity, classroom cohesion, IEP implementation, and ultimately problem solving to improve learning for all preschool students.
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References
Bettini, E. A., Crockett, J. B., Brownell, M. T., & Merrill, K. L. (2016). Relationships between working conditions and special educators’ instruction. The Journal of Special Education, 50(3), 178-190. Doi: 10.1177/0022466916644425
Conderman, G., & Johnston-Rodriguez, S. (2009). Beginning teachers’ views of their collaborative roles. Preventing school failure: Alternative education for children and youth, 53(4), 235-244. Doi: 10.3200/PSFL.53.4.235-244.
Foley, R. M., Skipper, S. B., Cowley, C. M., & Angell, C. A. (1997). Self-perceived competence of general educators participating in collaboration activities: A survey of preservice educators. The Teacher Educator, 33(2), 112-123.
Doi: 10.1080/08878739709555164
Griffin, C. C., Kilgore, K. L., Winn, J. A., Otis-Wilbom, A. (2008). First-year special educators’ relationships with their general education colleagues. Teacher Education Quarterly, 35(1), 141-157.
Hundert, J. P. (2007). Training classroom and resource preschool teachers to develop inclusive class interventions for children with disabilities: Generalization to new intervention targets. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 9(3), 159-173.
Johnson, R. B., & Christensen, L. (2017). Educational research: Quantitative, qualitative, and mixed approaches (6th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.
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Jones, B. A. (2012). Fostering collaboration in inclusive settings: The special education students at a glance approach. Intervention in School and Clinic 47{5), 297-306.
Kloo, A., & Zigmond, N. (2008). Coteaching revisited: Redrawing the blueprint.
Alternative Education for Children and Youth, 52(2), 12-20.
Doi: 10.3200/PSFL.52.2.12-20
Morgan, J. L. (2016). Reshaping the role of a special educator into a collaborative learning specialist. International Journal of Whole Schooling, 72(1), 40-60.
Odom, S. L., Buysse, V., & Soukakou, E. (2011). Inclusion for young children with
disabilities: A quarter century of research perspectives. Journal of Early Interventions. 33(4), 344-356.
Odom, S. L., & Wolery, M. (2003). A unified theory of practice in early intervention/early childhood special education: Evidence-based practices. The Journal of Special Education, 37(3), 164-173.
Robinson, L., & Buly, M. R. (2007). Breaking the language barrier: Promoting collaboration between general and special educators. Teacher Education Quarterly, 34(3) 83-94.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services & U.S. Department of Education (2015).
Policy statement on inclusion of children with disabilities in early childhood education. Retrieved from https://www2.ed.gov/about/inits/ed/earlylearning/inclusion/index.html
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Van Garderen, D., Stormont, M., & Goel, N. (2012). Collaboration between general and special
educators and student outcomes: A need for more research. Psychology in the Schools, 49(5), 483-497. Doi: 10.1002/pits.21610
Wallace, T., Shin, J., Bartholomay, T., & Stahl, B.J. (2001). Knowledge and skills for teachers supervising the work of paraprofessionals. Exceptional Children, 67, 520—533.
Weiss, M. P., Pellegrino, A., Regan, K., & Mann, L. (2014). Beyond the blind date:
Collaborative course development and co-teaching by teacher educators. Teacher Education and Special Education, 38(2), 88-104. Doi: 10.1177/0888406414548599 Wood, M. (1998). Whose job is it anyway? Educational roles in inclusion. Exceptional Children, 64(2), 181+. Retrieved from
http://link.qaleqroup.com.aurarialibrarv.idm.oclc.orq/apps/doc/A20200056/AQNE?u=auraria mai n&sid=AONE&xid=96292c63
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APPENIDICES Appendix A Consent Form
Principal Investigator: Georgia Cormier
COMIRB No: 18-0791
Version Date: February 5, 2019
Study Title: The investigation of barriers between general educators and special
educators within the inclusive preschool classroom.
You are being asked to be in a research study. This form provides you with information about the study. A member of the research team will describe this study to you and answer all of your questions. Please read the information below and ask questions about anything you don’t understand before deciding whether or not to take part.
Why is this study being done?
This study plans to learn more about the barriers that exist between general educators and special educators within the preschool inclusive classroom.
You are being asked to be in this research study because of your educational background and experience that you have gained within the inclusive preschool classroom and through professional development. Specifically, to gain your perception of these barriers and what you feel has prepared you to work in the inclusive preschool environment.
Up to ten people will participate in the study.
What happens if I join this study?
If you join the study, you will be interviewed by the investigator. The interview should take thirty to forty-five minutes and will be recorded.
What are the possible discomforts or risks?
There are no risks in this study. All participants will be kept confidential, as no names will be used in this study. Participants will be identified by number and only the principal investigator will know which number is assigned to each participant.
You may be asked questions that require honest open-ended feedback about your experiences as an educator within the inclusive classroom. Because of this, you may
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feel some discomfort. *You have the right to choose not to answer any question that may evoke discomfort.
What are the possible benefits of the study?
This study is designed for the researcher to learn more about potential barriers that exist within the inclusive classroom between general educators and special educators. Your feedback holds the potential to add to current research on such barriers. Possible benefits include more support in the inclusive classrooms and between general educators and special educators in the future.
Will I be paid for being in the study? Will I have to pay for anything?
You will not be paid to be in the study.
It will not cost you anything to be in the study.
Is my participation voluntary?
Taking part in this study is voluntary. You have the right to choose not to take part in this study. If you choose to take part, you have the right to stop at any time. If you refuse or decide to withdraw later, you will not lose any benefits or rights to which you are entitled.
Who do I call if I have questions?
The researcher carrying out this study is Georgia Cormier. You may ask any questions you have now. If you have questions later, you may call Georgia Cormier at (720) 404-2269.
You may have questions about your rights as someone in this study. You can call Georgia Cormier with questions. You can also call the Multiple Institutional Review Board (IRB). You can call them at 303-724-1055.
Who will see my research information?
We will do everything we can to keep your records a secret. It cannot be guaranteed.
Both the records that identify you and the consent form signed by you may be looked at by others.
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â–  Federal agencies that monitor human subject research
â–  Human Subject Research Committee
â–  The group doing the study
â–  The group paying for the study
â–  Regulatory officials from the institution where the research is being conducted who want to make sure the research is safe
The results from the research may be shared at a meeting. The results from the research may be in published articles. Your name will be kept private when information is presented.
The interviews will be audio recorded for accuracy and fidelity to responses. The investigator will place the recordings under lock and key for confidentiality purposes. The investigator will keep recordings for 1 year, then audio recordings will be erased.
Agreement to be in this study
I have read this paper about the study or it was read to me. I understand the possible risks and benefits of this study. I know that being in this study is voluntary. I choose to be in this study: I will get a copy of this consent form.
Signature:_________________________________________________ Date:_____________
Print Name:________________________________________________
Consent form explained by:___________________________________ Date:
Print Name: _________________________________________________
Investigator:
Date:
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Appendix B Interview Questions
Participant’s name: Date:
Part 1: Demographics
1. What is your gender?
2. What is your race?
3. What is your highest level of education?
4. Years of experience in teaching?
5. Current position at child development center? How long?
6. How would you define yourself as an educator and/or member of the FIT team?
Part 2: Collaboration
1. What types of Collaboration have you been involved in this year?
2. What types of collaboration were most successful? Why?
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3. How could more effective collaboration with special educators help you as a teacher? OR How could more effective collaboration with teachers help you as a special educator?
4. How could it help your students?
5. Are you interested in co-teaching with a special educator or specialist/ vise versa? Why or why not?
6. In your opinion, what are the benefits for co-teaching for IEP students?
7. What are the benefits for non-IEP students?
8. How could we use technology to improve collaboration?
9. How should responsibility for planning, instruction, and evaluation be shared between the teachers and special educators?
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Part 3: Experience questions
1. A. What is the curriculum currently used within your classroom?
B. What evidenced based practices do you currently employ within your classroom?
C. What current assessment tools are you implementing?
2. Are there any other barriers between general and special educators that you experience or would like to share? Explain?
3. Please share an example/s of an incident/s specific to barriers when working within the inclusive classroom.
4. Please share an example/s of an incident/s of advantages when working collaboratively within the inclusive preschool classroom.
Part 4: Experience questions
1. What is the most useful aspect from your teacher preparation program regarding students with disabilities?
2. Describe your comfort level in working with students with IEPs within the inclusive classroom.
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3.What are your current training needs?
4.Do you plan to remain a teacher/ Special Educator for at least 3 more years?
5.What advice do you have for beginning GETs/ SETs?
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Appendix C
Analysis of Master Codes- Barriers
BARRIERS #1 #2 #3 #4 #5 #6 #7
Time IIIII IIIII I I III I IIII II
Caseload III mi III IIIII III IIIII IIII
Communication IIIII ii II IIIII II IIIII II
Follow through ii I I I II II
Follow Up i I II I I
Training/ Ongoing P.D. II i II IIIII II I
Teacher Turnover II I II II II
Technology I i I
Value Code IIIII I mu III IIIII I IIII IIIII IIIII IIIII I
Curriculum I II IIII
Key:
IIIII: reflect barrier priority (determined by 5+)
III: reflect consistency across participants (determined by 4+)
#: represents a specific participant P.D.: represents Professional development
Value Code: reflect a participant’s values, attitudes, and beliefs; representing his/her perspective
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Appendix D
Analysis of Master Codes- Benefits
BENEFITS #1 #2 #3 #4 #5 #6 #7
Teacher: Student ratio 1 â–  1 1
Classroom team collaboration 1 â–  â–  â– 
Department specialist 1 1 â–  1
Curriculum Specialist I
Reflective Supervision meetings I I
CIT Team Collaboration mi â–  1 mi â–  IIIII â– 
I-pads in rooms i
Advantages of C.E.L.C. mi ii mi mi â–  1 1
Parent collaboration 1 1
Key:
IIIII: reflect benefit priority (determined by 4+)
III: reflect consistency across participants (determined by 4+)
#: represents a specific participant
CIT: Clarence Inclusion Team
P.D.: professional development
C.E.L.C.: Clarence Early Learning Center
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Appendix E
Barriers Hierarchy-Master Teachers
M,
TIME
CASELOAD
COMMUNICATION
Training/ P.D.
CIT members only available 10 hours each week
Time impacts consistency and follow up from CIT team
CIT Team not often available when needed
Need for more frequent Family CIT meetings
Two hour planning time each week is not enough
Planning for teachers rarely occurs
CIT intensives take support away from other classrooms

Inhibits follow through with CIT kids
Too many meetings
Too many committees
Feeling
Overwhelmed
ELOs just one more thing to do

Time and Caseload impact
communication
Too many informal hallway conversations
Value
differences
Master teacher turnover

Teachers need ongoing training on intervention strategies
Master teacher training in communication style and Leadership
Need for ongoing refresher training in Pyramid plus
Difficulty Monitoring progress for CIT Kids
Teachers need training on data collection and assessment
CIT team needs training on TSGs progress monitoring

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Appendix F
Pragmatic and Conceptual Barriers: CIT Team
Pragmatic Barrier: lack of time to consult, funding issues, and large caseloads for SETs (Wood, 1998) Conceptual barrier: different disciplines that may not understand/ agree with educational strategies of one another, sense of hierarchy, increase of classroom interventions being perceived as intrusive (Wood, 1998)
***CIT team hours available each week **teachers lacking in knowledge of data collection, strategy implementation, measuring progress
***CIT team caseload *teachers lack tools and value of reflection
*Grant funding for CIT team hours **CIT team training teachers on ELOs
*Consultative model could be very successful if we had more hours *teachers lack automaticity in intervention
**CIT team has so many responsibilities and so many diff. things pulling them in different directions ***CIT team lacks knowledge in TSGs
**Lack of CIT team time impacts ability to follow up with classrooms and CIT kids **Teachers feeling overwhelmed with paperwork and integrating various tracking tools
*Would be helpful to be here five days a week ***Unsure if teachers are implementing strategies for CIT students
***l triage my time **Progress evaluation does not occur for CIT kids
*concerned about funding for such support to remain-IEPs **CIT team was being used to assist classrooms on management strategies, teacher classroom dynamics that need to be addressed, not the best use of FIT members time
*"Behind the scenes" money in education presents a challenge-curriculum turn over *challenge for CIT team to support teachers when they lack skills around the curriculum, universal strategies and how they tie into each other *triage requires putting out fires and managing teacher dynamics, CIT members time wasted *ELOs not seamless yet, CIT members concerned about adding to teacher paperwork *CIT members not "henchmen" bossing teachers around *Teachers "performing" is inauthentic projection of their interactions with teaching students *Teachers lack initiative to reach out when feeling neglected
KEY: * Represents a CIT Member CIT-Clarence Inclusion Team *Every teacher in this building on the surface, is willing to collaborate
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Appendix G
CIT Member Hierarchical Barriers
• CIT member limited time available- 10 hours each week
• Impacts ability to follow up consistently
•Teachers lacking strateg implementation, knowledge of data collection, & measuring progress
•Teachers lack tools and value of reflection • Every teacher in the building, on the surface, is willing to collaborate
So many responsibilities and and so many different tilings pulling us in different directions Too many meetings Triaging our time
J
CIT team used to assist classrooms on management strategies, teacher classroom dynamics; not the best use of our time Too many informal (hallway) conversations
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Appendix H
CIT Team Triangulation of Barriers
( A
• CIT members
available 10
hours a week
• Lack of CIT time
impacts ability to
follow up on CIT
kid gaols
CASELOAD
Too many meetings Some kids are forgotten due to Triage
Overwhelmed & Stretched-thin
Too many informal meetings in the hallway Unsure if teachers are implementing CIT strategies Teachers lack automaticity in intervention
COMMUNICATION
r
V
\
Curriculum and
Universal
Strategies
Intervention
strategies and
data assessment
Technology
Communication
• Teachers lack r \ • Teacher dynamics • Need for better
follow through of communication
recommendations b/w CIT team &
by CIT team teachers
• CIT team triage • CIT members not
available
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Appendix I
Analysis of Coded Categories- Need for Training/ Professional Development
Training/ Ongoing P.D. #1 #2 #3 #4 #5 #6 #7
Training/ coaching at BOY on intervention strategies/ best practices I
Ongoing CIT kid/ teacher interaction training by the CIT team II
Quarterly Family CIT meetings I II I
More climate surveys throughout the year I I
Ongoing Intervention strategies training I II II II III I
Teacher preparation Program did not prepare me to work within the inclusive classroom I I III
Training on Cooperation and Leadership Skills I III II I
Ongoing Pyramid Plus Training I I II II
P.D. in collaboration and communication styles I I I
Curriculum and TSG training I I I I
Training in typical Child Development I
Training in counseling parents I
KEY: III- Consistency across participants (4+)
# - Represents participants BOY- Beginning of the year
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Appendix J
Analysis of Coded Categories- Technology
Technology #1 #2 #3 #4 #5 #6 #7
Video recordings as a tool for CIT kid behavioral observation I III
Technology that is strategic, accessible, and efficient IIII I I I III III
Need for cameras/ microphones as a means for student/ teacher interaction observation I I
Lack of technological training at Clarence I I III I
Technology issues impact communication between CIT members/ teachers I I I
Lack of technological experience I I
Need for more training in technology at Clarence I II
KEY: III- Consistency across participants (4+)
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Appendix K
Analysis of Codes- Values
Values #1 #2 #3 #4 #5 #6 #7
Teacher dynamics need to be addressed I II II I II I
Consulting most successfiil form of collaboration II
Too many committees III I I
hiterested in co-teaching w/ specialist I I I I
Family population at Clarence affluent I II I
TSG not reflective of CIT kid growth I I I I
TSG inefficient system I I I I
CIT intensives take away from other classroom support I I
Teachers are valued at Clarence I I II
CIT members are valued I I II
Too many meetings II II II
CIT team observation most successfiil form of collaboration II
Need better communication b/w CIT team & teachers III I I I I
Need for quarterly CIT team meetings I II I
CIT members not available I I I I I I I
CIT team tries to make ELOs simple I II II
“CIT members boss the teachers around” I
Limited funding for CIT members-hours available I


Feeling overwhelmed and stretched tliin I I I I I
Just not a technological person I I I II
Collecting formal data on CIT kids is not a priority I I I I
CIT team makes themselves available when needed I I I
Teacher's lack initiative to reach out when needed I
Teachers vary in skill set and motivation I
Teacher lack tools and value of reflection II
Benefits/ tuition credits are incentives for working at Clarence I I I I I I
Classroom team best fonn of collaboration I II I III
CIT members come into classroom and model interventions is best I I I II
Express confidence in working with CIT kids I I
Expresses comfort in implementing strategies that CIT team provides I I
CIT team would be more effective if teachers did a better job w/ Curriculum II
Need for shifting perspectives across fields I
Afraid to do the wrong thing w/ CIT kids I II
Key: Illl-consistent value across participants; IIII- 4+ score value of importance


Appendix L
Benefits of Collaboration/ Master Teacher Values:
M.T. M.T. M.T. M.T.
CIT Point Person I I II
CIT member bridge parents & teachers III
CIT Team observes in classrooms IIII I
CIT members work with CIT kids II
CIT members support and guide classroom teachers in working with CIT kids III I I II
CIT members teach teachers about strategies and interventions III I II I
Family CIT meetings I II II
CIT Intensives I I
CIT members support all students in the classroom I II
KEY: IIII- consistent value across participants; III- 4+ score value of importance; M.T.- Master teacher
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BARRIERS IMPACTING GENERAL AND SPECIAL EDUCATORS WITHIN THE INCLUSIVE PRESCHOOL CLASSROOM BY GEORGIA CORMIER B.A., METROPOLITAN STATE UNIVERSITY, 2008 A thesis submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School of the University of Colorado in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Education and Human Development 2019

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ii This Thesis for Master of Arts Education and Human Development Degree Georgia Cormier Has been approved for the School of Education and Human Development by Jung In Kim, C hair Alissa Rausch, Co chair Nancy Leech Date: May 18, 2019

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iii Cormi er, Georgia ( M.A., Education and Human Development Program ) The Barriers between General and Special Educators w ithin the I nclusive P reschool C lassroom Thesis Directed by Associate Professor Jung In Kim ABSTRACT This research investigate d the barriers and advantages that exist between general and special educators collaborative relationship within the inclusive preschool classroom. In addition , how these challenges and advantages impact ed the working relationship between the se educators . Data w ere gathered through guided interviews. Findings showed that l ack of time and heavy teachers, inhibiting assurance that intervention recommendations were being practiced and measured. While lack of master teacher training in both intervention strategies and leadership were found to impact the working relationship among educators, in addition to impacting master teacher follow through of those recommendatio ns provided by the specialists . At the same time , a dvantages within this collaborative dynamic were found to be influenced by the Clarence Inclusion Team point person system. Master teacher perception of support developed due to the sense of common goals and shared responsibilities established within this working partnership. Working conditions and program incentives were found to impact master teacher perceptions as well. The findings implicate that future research should investigate the advantages of collaborative based training for educators in both, intervention strategy development and inter personal skill development to enhance the promotion of inclusion and quality of instruction. The form and content of this abstract are approved . I recommend its publication. Approved: Jung In Kim

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iv TABLE OF CONTENTS CHAPTER ONE ................................ ................................ ................................ ............................. 1 INTRODUCTION ................................ ................................ ................................ ....................... 1 Limitations ................................ ................................ ................................ ............................... 2 CHAPTER TWO ................................ ................................ ................................ ............................ 4 R EVIEW OF THE L ITERATURE ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 4 Training and Pedagogical Differences ................................ ................................ .................... 4 Collaborative Relationships within the Inclusive Classroom ................................ .................. 6 Co Teaching ................................ ................................ ................................ ............................ 8 Co planning & Consultation ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 10 Working Conditions ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 13 The Present Study ................................ ................................ ................................ .................. 14 CHAPTER THREE ................................ ................................ ................................ ...................... 16 METHOD ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 16 Design ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 16 Participants ................................ ................................ ................................ ............................ 19 Instrumentation and Data Collection ................................ ................................ ..................... 20 Data Analysis ................................ ................................ ................................ ......................... 22 CHAPTER FOUR ................................ ................................ ................................ ......................... 24 RESULTS ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 24 Time and Caseload ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 24 Teacher Training and Support ................................ ................................ ............................... 26 Value Diff erences ................................ ................................ ................................ .................. 29 Benefits of CIT Support ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 31 Working Conditions ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 32 Benefits at Clarence Early Learning Center ................................ ................................ .......... 35 Conflicting Responses ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 36 CHAPTER FIVE ................................ ................................ ................................ .......................... 41 DISCUSSION ................................ ................................ ................................ ........................... 41 Implications ................................ ................................ ................................ ........................... 47 Future Research ................................ ................................ ................................ ..................... 48 Conclusion ................................ ................................ ................................ ............................. 48 R EFERENCES ................................ ................................ ................................ .............................. 49 APPENIDICES ................................ ................................ ................................ ......................... 52 A PPENDIX A ................................ ................................ ................................ ............................... 52 Consent Form ................................ ................................ ................................ ........................ 52 A PPENDIX B ................................ ................................ ................................ ............................... 55 Interview Questions ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 55 A PPENDIX C ................................ ................................ ................................ ............................... 59

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v Analysis of Master Codes Barriers ................................ ................................ ....................... 59 A PPENDIX D ................................ ................................ ................................ ............................... 60 Analysis of Master Codes Benefits ................................ ................................ ...................... 60 A PPENDIX E ................................ ................................ ................................ ............................... 61 Barriers Hierarchy Master Teachers ................................ ................................ ..................... 61 A PPENDIX F ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ 62 Pragmatic and Conceptual Barriers: CIT Team ................................ ................................ .... 62 A PPENDIX G ................................ ................................ ................................ ............................... 63 CIT Member Hierarchical Barriers ................................ ................................ ........................ 63 A PPENDIX H ................................ ................................ ................................ ............................... 64 CIT Team Triangulation of Barriers ................................ ................................ ...................... 64 A PPENDIX I ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ 65 Analysis of Coded Categories Need for Training/ Professional Development .................... 65 A PPENDIX J ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ 66 Analysis of Coded Categories Technology ................................ ................................ .......... 66 A PPENDIX K ................................ ................................ ................................ ............................... 67 Analysis of Codes Values ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 67 A PPENDIX L ................................ ................................ ................................ ............................... 69 Benefits of Collaboration/ Master Teacher Values: ................................ .............................. 69

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1 CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION The purpose of this study is to investigate barriers and advantages that are present in inclusive preschool classrooms among special educators and general educators collaborative relationship . With the reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA) of 2004, general education teachers (GETs) are held to a greater accountability for the development and implementation of individualized education plans (IEPs) for those students identified with special needs (Conderman & Johnston Rodriguez , 2009) . Meaning, students diagnosed with special needs are to participate in statewide accountability protocols and are held to the same achievement standards as those student s not diagnosed with special needs (Kloo & Zigmond, 2008). As a result , the level of accountability towards the modification of curriculum and accommodations within the inclusive classroom are more balanced between GETs and special education teachers (SETs) (Conderman & Johnston Rodriguez, 2009). Because of t he increase in inclusionary practices and needs within the public school system, there is an increased demand for collaboration between GETs and SETs (Robinson & Buly, 2007). It is essenti al to understand the challenges that impact the working relationship between the two. According to Robinson & Buly ( 2007), there is a complicated and long history of education and teacher preparation leading to different theoretical perspectives between the two f ields . A difference in standards, belief systems, and lack of shared language are additional factors impacting successful partnership between special and general educators (Robinson & Buly, 2007) , in addition to what they are trained to do and how they are trained. There is limited research on the topic of barriers among general and special educator relationships. There is an abundance of research however, discussing the impact of effective collaboration within inclusive class rooms. As the rate of children identified with special needs

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2 increases, it is important now more than ever to address the obstacles presented to these students within their inclusive environment (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services & U.S. Departme nt of Education, 2015) . As the role dynamics change for special and general educators, it is vital for the well being of all involved to address the obstacles and challenges presented to them and to provide support along the road of transition. In this study, it is the intention of the researcher to address the following questions: What a re the barriers impacting the partnership between special and general educators within the inclusive preschool classroom? How are these challenges affecting the relationship between general and special educators within the inclusive preschool classroom ? What are the advantages of collaboration between special and general educators within the inclusive preschool classroom? How do these advantages impact the partnership between special and general educators within the inclusive preschool classroom ? Limitations A major limitation within this study was time. Due to the limited time frame in which this study w as conducted, sample size w as impacted, t hus influencing fidelity of the study . Additionally, due to t he inordinate amount of time it t akes for qualitative data analysis , time constraint impacted this process, thus the validity of the study. It is necessary to note that because t he study was conducted at only one private Early Learning Center in Denver , the sample size is small and limited to the perspective of th is one academic institution in the Midwest, reducing the generalizability of the results of the study . Another limitation is implementing only one method of data collection, a qualitative interview. The type of interview utilized is the interview guide approach. In this approach the researcher is given the flexibility to ask quest ions in any order and change the wording of questions spontaneously, thus impacting consistency. The use of coders is another limitation ; due to the lack of resources and time, the

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3 researcher, as a single coder , conducted the data analysis . When multiple c oders are used, the research is more defensible and encapsulates best practice .

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4 CHAPTER TWO Review of the Literature This section reviews the literature surrounding the topics relevant to barriers between general and special educators , including training and pedagogical differences, collaboration in inclusive classrooms, and working conditions . Training and Pedagogical Differences Existing literature discusses the philosophical differences between the two fields based on training and ed ucational backgrounds. However, with growing demands for collaboration, these differences are impacting performance. Today s pecial education teachers are expected to me nts on one instruction where it was customary for the special education teacher to pull out the individual stu dents (Robinson & Buly, 2007 , p.83 ). In addition, w hen Robinson and Buly (2007) examined extensively the language barriers, they discovered that terms were defined differently among the two fields. Through the process of data collection, Robinson and Buly (2007) found that common terms such as: behaviorism , constructivism, diagnosis , direct instruction, and fluency were defined differently among the faculty members in their College of Education. To validate their findings, Robinson and Buly (2007) turned to research literature and found that not only were there differences in definitions, but also teacher preparation materials, journals, reports, and materials written for teacher and administrator audiences. Robinson and Buly (2007) presented their findings to their respective national conferences, the Coun cil for Exceptional Children and the International Reading Association. Further examples of language barriers were shared and discussed among the audiences at both conferences between elementary education and special education (Robinson & Buly, 2007).

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5 In addition to language barriers, Robinson and Buly (2007) found within their college and within K 12 schools that different philosophies also contributed to the discord between general and special education. General education faculty follow a Constructivist perspective and To the same extent, special education , p. 86 ). I t is no coincidence that collaboration between the two fields can be stifled , when considering these types of imposed views (Robinson & Buly, 2007). Wood (1998) further elaborates on the various levels of barriers that exist within the school system, from individual classroom practices to state educational school codes. R elation to skills lacking in teacher preparation programs, consultation skills and role ambiguity regarding service delivery are two major issues (Wood, 1998). In a study conducted by Conderman & Johnston Rodriguez (2009), beginning teachers level of pr eparedness in working with students with special needs, was dependent on their field experience. In addition, concern was raised in a nation wide s urvey , which indicated that special education teaching practices placed less focus on tasks involving collaboration, or consultation skills; rather, priority was placed on paper type assignments, such as lesson planning (Conderman, Morin, & Stephens, 2005, p.236 , as cited in Conderman & Johntson Rodriguez, 2009). According to Chang, Early, & Winton (2005, p.348, as cited in Odom et al., 2011), traditional professional development is not enough in the preparation of teachers and staff to adequately meet the indivi dual learning needs of students with disabilities in early childhood education. Therefore, research suggests that it is vital for administrations to advocate for

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6 resources in professional development, ongoing coaching and collaboration, and time for commun ication and planning. These larger system supports are critical for successful classroom inclusion (Lieber et al., 2000, p.348, as cited in Odom et al, 2011). Collaborati ve Relationships within the Inclusive Classroom Lieber et al. (1997, p.348, as cited in Odom et al., 2011 ) recorded in an investigation with the Early Childhood Research Institute on Inclusion (ECRII) on how the success of inclusive programs is more dependent on the collaborative partnerships between adults, rather than the attributes of the students. There were seven characteristics of collaboration affiliated with successful inclusion recognized, accord ing to this research: joint participation in planning, shared philosophies, shared responsibility for all children, communication, professional roles, stability of relationships, and administrative support. These characteristics may appear in various colla borative models, including: coaching, mentoring, and/ or providing guidance and feedback within inclusive child development programs between the specialized professionals and the lead teachers ( Lieber et al., 1997, p.348, as cited in Odom et al., 2011 ). In additi on , Morgan (2016) argues that collaboration in and of itself is not a guarantee for success within the inclusive classroom . R ather , certain conditions such as genuineness among individuals must be in place to produce success. Common goals, voluntary engagement, participant parity, along with shared resources, decision making, responsibility, and accountability for outcomes are among the attributes of genuine collaboration ( Morgan 2016 ). Coincidentally, the re is a dilemma due to professionals are un able to collaborate across disciplines ( Sands,1993, p.545, as cited in Wood, 1998 ) . This inability to change or modify roles in the effort to collaborate is consistent with the expectations of SETs job description prior to the reauthorization of IDEIA (2004), where SETs were expected to pull

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7 students with disabilities outside of the general education classroom for individualized instr uction (Wood, 1998). Additional forms of collaboration include: co teaching, co planning, integrated service delivery, cooperative teaming, consultation, informal and formal meetings (Morgan, 2016; Van Garderen et al., 2012). As stated by Wood (1998), SETs and GETs must re design their roles and relationship s within the inclusive classroom and organization al composition to promote responsive relationships. Because of the IDEIA of 2004, the demand for collaboration has been called forth to best serve those students identified with special needs within the inclusive classroom. From accountability standards to the creation of modified strategies and implementation, all require unification acro ss disciplines and this needs to begin in teacher preparation programs ( Gerber & Popp, 2000, as cited in Conderman & Johnston Rodriguez, 2004). The lack of clarification between roles also impacts the ability to synchronize teaching efforts and inhibits c larity of expectations regarding student performance and teaching styles (Dettmer et al., 1993, as cited in Wood, 1998). Additional barriers were divided into separate components: pragmatic and conceptual. Pragmatic barriers included lack of time, funding issues, and large caseloads for SETs . D iffering disciplines, a sense of hierarchy, and the increase in classroom interventions being perceived as intrusive , comprise the conceptual barriers (Wood, 1998). It is pertinent to recognize the vast difference in disciplines between GETs and SETs. Where GETs specialize in comprehension of the curriculum, standards, and the required outcome for the whole class; SETs have mastered individualizing the curriculum and instruction based on et al., 2012). Among the many theories that cultivate SETs practice is Behaviorism. This approach includes incidental teaching, functional assessment,

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8 positive behavior support, systematic instruction, and the individualization of goals . These methods were derived based on evidence based practices (Odom & Wolery, 2003) . In addition, f indings in the study conducted by Foley et al. (1997), implied that elementary teacher candidates lacked knowledge in consultation/ collaboration models, processe s and the skills in designing action plans for services amongst multiple interventions. This suggest a need for teacher preparation programs to focus on developing and implementing collaborat ive based activities (Foley et al, 1998). Based on the results of the study, assessment approaches, communication strategies, conflict resolution skills , and conceptual understanding of the partnership between school and community based services are among the specific areas of training needs ( Foley et al, 1998 ). Co Teaching In the article written by Kloo & Zigmond (2008), they argue that the benefits of co teaching between a certified general educator and certified special educator yields highly effective instruction delivery for all students within the inclusive classroom, particularly those students with learning disabilities. With the responsibility for planning, delivering, and evaluating instruction being shared, the strengths within both fields are being drawn upon (Kloo & Zigmond, 2008). Due to the IDEA of 1 997, students with disabilities are held to the same high standards of achievement and are expected to fully participate in statewide accountability measures as their typically developing peers. And this notion is reiterated through the reauthorization of the IDEIA of 2004 (Kloo & Zigmond, 2008). As a result, Kloo & Zigmond (2008) explain the need e general curriculum and instruction to match the unique learning needs of individual students.

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9 That is, if the law requiring those students with learning and behavioral needs are to learn the exact content and show competence on the same tests as their ty pically developing peers (Kloo & Zigmond, 2008), is to be upheld. In a study conducted by Weiss et al. (2015), a co taught course across two disciplines was created in the hopes of assisting teachers in developing collaborative skills to teach varied lear ners. According to Weiss et al. (2015), there are three inherent features of collaboration. The first is the Blind Date phase, where experiences, philosophies, and individual goals are shared. Weiss et al. (2015) explains that this phase may incorporate a sense of excitement and anticipation towards the novel experience of developing a professional, productive working relationship with a colleague. It was noted that this phase was short lived, as the diverse disciplinary backgrounds and training proved different views on the same ideas (Weiss et al., 2015). The second component of collaboration according to Weiss et al. (2015), is the Pushing Through phase. It was noted that teachers in this phase are confr onted with frustrations and ideas and goals are construed do not match (Weiss et al., 2015, p.94). Differing instructional perspectives included inquiry based le arning (GETs) versus strategic and direct instruction (SETs). The researchers had to establish intent on working together, rather than trying to change either side (Weiss et al., 2015). These tensions allowed the instructors to empathize with their student s and to move out of their comfort zones (Weiss et al., 2015). The last component of collaboration according to Weiss et al. (2015), is the Authentic Partnership. In this phase, disciplinary expertise became valued among colleagues. Views could be questio ned on a professional level, enabling openness and an exchange of collaborative ideas

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10 (Weiss et al., 2015). The outcome of committing to these phases resulted in rich consideration of other perspectives and essential changes of views toward education and p rofessional temperaments (Weiss et al., 2015). According to the IDEIA of 2004, the implementation of Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) should include both the Special Education Teacher (SET) and the General Education Teacher (GET) to establish a succ essful experience of inclusion within the general education classroom (Jones, 2012). It was also noted that c ollaboration between SETs and GETs are not enough, paraprofessionals must be included in the process and implementation (Jones, 2012). For this type of collaboration to be effective, Wallace et al. (2011) discusses the need for skills in both administration and management of on the part of the educators. Wallace et al. (2001), explain ed that effective communication; aligning schedules; ma tching strengths to assigned duties for the paraprofessionals ; setting goals; establishing plans; and offering frequent feedback are fundamental in the successful implementations of IEPs within the inclusive classroom . Co planning & Consultation In the study conducted by Jones (2012), Special Education Students at a Glance approach (SESG) was utilized to facilitate more collaboration between SETs, GETs, and paraprofessionals. There are three forms within the SESG approach. The first form is the Be ginning of the Year form. GETs are required to complete these forms. They are to develop and apply a curriculum in conformity with the IEP that was developed by the IEP team (Jones, 2012). Jones (2012) noted the importance of appropriately implementing the established IEP. Failure to appraisal , but could also have legal implications (Jones, 2012). Including due process hearings involving personal lawsuits to districts being held acc ountable for lost services (Jones, 2012). It is necessary for

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11 GETs and paraprofessionals to be knowledgeable and confident when implementing the goals and objectives established within the IEPs. This makes the need for interdisciplinary collaboration salie nt . The SESG BOY form serves as a format for GETs to encapsulate all the key components of the IEP in a succinct manner (Jones, 2012). As indicated by Jones (2012), SETs only assist in the implementation of accommodations developed on the SESG BOY form on a case by case basis . The goal of the SESG BOY form is to enhance GETs experience with SETs forms and records, in addition to GETs ability to find relevant information (Jones, 2012). However, according to the Foley et al. (1998) study, the findings suggest that elementary teacher candidates lacked sufficient training in functional analysis. The second form included in the SESG is the End of the Year report. This form allows GETs to reflect on successful instructional strategies for individual students with IEPs and pass this information along to the GET for the following year (Jones, 2012). This reflection documents specific approaches that were both, effective and not effective . It also entails accommodations that were helpful for the student, such as the type of instruction and learning preferences (Jones, 2012). This method of reflection can be very supportive for future GETs. The last form of the SESG approach is called an Inclusion Running Record SESG IRR. This form is used as a weekly assessment of th e provisions provided by the paraprofessionals and the GETs, which is then monitored by the SETs (Jones, 2012). This log indicates day and time of services, the types of appropriate materials utilized, the type of instructional activity applied, and the am ount of inclusion support provided for the specific time (Jones, 2012). The log is used to establish patterns in student and/ or teacher performance (Jones, 2012). As stated by Jones (2012), the SESG approach is intended to create instructional gains for t hose students

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12 with IEPs. General educators need coaching, formative, and summative assessment to support those students identified with special needs. One necessary factor to consider is the issue raised in the article by Hundert (2007), discuss ing the traditional means in which intervention strategies and instructional modifications are designed by consultants or experimenters , with very little partnership or training with those individuals whom are implementing those strate gi es and modifications f or the individual students identified with special needs . In the study conducted by Hundert (2007), the intention of the researcher was to examine if preschool classroom and resource teacher collaborative training on one specific intervention target coul d then provide teachers the ability to apply that training to other intervention targets, which were not discussed in the training . A potential cost effective alternative to providing consultation and training for each individual child with a special need would be to train teachers to develop inclusive class interventions (Hundert, 2007). S trategies for arranging environments to evoke child target behaviors and actions to embed instruction , prompts and feedback within classroom procedures , were taught to teachers. Classroom plans were then modified by the teacher teams based on the content of their training, which was provided by their supervisor ( Hundert, 2007). Three important results emerged from this study: first, increased commitment to implementations resulted from teachers ability to create their own interventions; second, teacher s that were able to develop their own interventions were able t o modify interventions to fit the specific needs of individual children and procedures of the daily setting; third, it may be a cost effective way to deliver service s within the inclusive preschool classroom (Hundert, 2007).

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13 Working Conditions School /district culture, administrative and collegial support that is specific to instructional assistance , instructional materials, instructional grouping, time for instruction, and time for planning are the six working conditions that were found to poten teaching quality, as stated i n the article by Bettini et al. ( 2016) . It was also found that smaller classroom sizes and those comprised of students with similar needs , influence the efficacy of SETs instruction (Bettini et al., 2016) . I t is the obligation of policy makers, school leaders, and researchers to provide optimum learning conditions for efficacious instructional delivery (Bettini et al., 2016). In addition, i t is necessary to consider the pressures and challenges that present themselves to first year teachers. According to the Griffin et al. (2008) article , role ambiguity, complex behavioral and academic challenges of students, heavy caseloads, curricula and technical resource deficiencies, inadequate administrative sup port, insufficient time for planning, collaboration and professional development, excessive procedural demands, are all amongst these first year obstacles . And the role expectations of special educators are changing. Apart from the traditional role of the SETs, where small groups of children were removed from the classroom for specialized instruction (Griffin et al., 2008), amendments to IDEA require that students with learning disabilities be a part of an inclusive environment within the general education setting. (Griffin et al., 2008). According to the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Education (20 15 ), students with significant disabilities displayed stronger cognitive and communication development when placed in inclusive lea rning environments than those students with disabilities that were placed in separate learning environments. However, w ithin the inclusive classroom, collaboration is required for effective student achievement (Griffin et al., 2008).

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14 Griffin et al., (2008) explains that novice SETs are having difficulty balancing responsibilities, such as the dynamic between providing intensive individualized instruction and collaborat ing (e.g. co teaching) with general education teachers. In th e artic le, various obstacles impact the relationships between novice SETs and colleagues. Among these obstacles are time constraints, which impact their practice and ability to collaborate on curriculum or instructional strategies (Griffin et al., 2008). Accessib ility to the general education curriculum is yet another component that affects novice SETs. Within this element is insufficient curricula and technical resources, lack of classroom materials, and financial difficulties within the district (e.g. textbooks and high cost support technology) (Griffin et al. , 2008). Novice SETs reported having positive relationships with general education teachers when they viewed learning as an accomplishment and felt supported by colleagues through communication and collabora tion (Griffin et al., 2008). Consistent with prior research, finding solutions, planning, joint problem solving, cooperation and effective communication are all essential components to collaboration (Jones, 2012) . In fact, these elements of cohesiveness a re vital for successful instruction of students with disabilities within the general education environment. Collaboration through in service training, sharing professional literature, providing checklists to facilitate the identification of students with d isabilities, all serve as the role in which special educators collaborate within the inclusive classroom (Jones, 2012) . The Present Study E xisting literature state s the present barriers between the relationship of GETs and SETs. The impact of limited training, divergent pedagogies, the inhibiting components to adequate collaborative relationships, and working conditions impede the successful delivery of instruction to those students with disabilities within the inc lusive classrooms. Because of the demands from

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15 the IDEIA of 2004 placed on instructors within the inclusive classrooms, there is a dire call for attention to address these impediments to remedy them . Further insight i nto the phenomenon of obstacles that ex ist within these educator relationships can support role clarity, classroom cohesion, IEP implementation, and ultimately problem solving to improve learning for all preschool students. The purpose of the current study is to explore potential obstacles and solutions for maximizing collaboration between special and general educators within inclusive s with the literature research . I n addition, learning GETs and SETs perception of how they function in collaboration and how these educators perceive these potential barriers . In this study, it is the intention of the researcher to address the following questions: What are the barriers im pacting the partnership between special and general educators within the inclusive preschool classroom? How are these challenges affecting the relationship between general and special educators within the inclusive preschool classroom? What are the advanta ges of collaboration between special and general educators within the inclusive preschool classroom? How do these advantages impact the partnership between special and general educators within the inclusive preschool classroom?

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16 CHAPTER T HREE M ETHOD Design The research method w as a phenomenology (Johnson & Christenson, 2017) . The researcher chose th is qualitative approach to determine if and how the participants experience phenomen a of barriers and advantages within the collaborative relationship between general and special educators within the inclusive preschool classroom . It was essential to learn the educators perception of these phenomena , to describe their experiences accurately , for the purpose of addressing any b arriers that inhibit successful collaboration within the inclusive preschool classroom. To do this, the researcher chose to study the collaborative functions among educators at Clarence Early Learning Center ( C ELC ), which is a pseudonym , in a M idwestern state . For the purpose of anonymity, pseudonyms w ere also used for the participants, and the affiliations. Clarence was a private early learning center affiliated with Pluto University. Because of this affiliation, C larence work ed collaboratively with the Mars Institute for Early Learning and Literacy. While the preschool program utilize d the creative curriculum, the pre K department ha d recently adopted the Curriculum 4 Learning (C4L) program. The school employ ed the Teaching Strategies Gold (TSG) assessment model to track student development and growth. CELC was unique in that staff ha d the option of continuing their education through the college of education at the University, using tuition credits. Another unique c omponent to CELC was that they ha d the Clarence Inclusion Team (CIT). The team was available three days a week (Tuesday, Wednesday, & Thursday) for approximately ten hours each week. The CIT team work ed directly with the teachers, primarily utilizing a con sultative model. In this approach, this transdisciplinary team of specialists t aught classroom teams to assess the needs of students who

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17 displa yed a developmental concern, provide d recommendations and model ed strategies, and provide d mentorship to support the classroom s . Each classroom at CELC was each CIT member was t with the master teacher and discuss ed whole class issues. CIT family meetings were another component in the collaborative relationship. They were held twice a year (12 month cycle), depending on which teacher in the classroom was assigned to the specific CIT kid depend ed on which teacher attend ed those meetings, along with the assigned CIT member and the family of the CIT child. An initial CIT family meeting was held at the beginning of the year , once it ha d been established that a student need ed specific intervention. During this meeting, the family me t with the assigned classroom teacher and a Clarence team member, goals were discussed, and a formalized plan was established . It was the responsibility of the classroom teachers to implement the recommendati ons designed by the CIT member. The CIT family meeting were arranged once more at the end of the year to discuss progress and new recommendations were developed by the CIT member. and the family CIT meetings , the CIT team went ed a master teacher expressing concern over a child, at which point a CIT member arrange d a time to observe the specific child within the classroom. After observation, strategies for the student were established if need be. The student d id not require an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) in order to receive services from the CIT team. According to the master teacher participants, some CIT members pull sma ll groups of children to the side to facilitate. An example of this would be the Social Worker (CIT member), she facilitate d a weekly social skills group in various classrooms. The CIT team also supports

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18 Clarence classrooms through CIT Intensives. This was when a classroom was in distress due to classroom dynamics or the severe needs of a specific child. This was a whole group effort, where all CIT members step into the classroom for a two week period. During that time the CIT members model ed strategies and observe d and ma de recommendations and led small groups. After the two week period, a formalized plan was established, and gaps were looked at. From there the classroom teachers follow ed up with administrators during reflective supervision meetings to make sure that progress was continuing. According to the master teachers, th ose reflective supervision meetings occurred every other month and were divided into three elements; one meeting was held individually between the master teacher and the director, whi le a separate meeting was held between the associate teachers, individually, and the assistant director. In addition, the team me t together once a month with an administrator to discuss whole class concerns. Goals were established at the beginning of the year and the reflection of those goals occurred throughout the year. Based on the inclusive and collaborative nature of CELC and th eir consultative approach through the CIT team, the researcher ha d determined that CELC me t the necessary requirements to conduct this study. As an instrument in this research, the researcher f ound it necessary to elaborate on the history of her backgrou nd to allow lucidity in the purpose and intention of this study , beyond the scope of what current research states. With a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Human Development and an emphasis in Early Childhood Education , in addition to ten years of teaching experi ence, of which the first 4 of those years were in a Midwestern Head Start program, the researcher had personal experience in the collaboration process with special educators within the inclusive preschool classroom. The researcher also experienced the pres sures and uncertainties of being accountable for the implementation of IEPs. During the 2017 2018 school year , the researcher

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19 had the opportunity of working in a center based Autism preschool program. This experience allowed the researcher to understand an d practice various methods of e arly i ntervention , particularly through Applied Behavior Analysis . Of these approaches the most notable being Discrete Trial Training, where a skill is broken up into many simplified steps . It was with this experience, along with an Early Intervention graduate course , that the researcher began to recognize the range of early intervention procedures. In addition to th e year in the center based preschool classroom, the researcher has worked the past five months as a special education paraprofessional across all the preschool classrooms within th e child development center . bracket preconceptions and learned theories while cond ucting this study. To do this, the researcher engaged in memoing (Johnson & Christensen, 2017), a process of noting and reflecting on personal thoughts and insights throughout data collection and analysis. Participants The participants include d general educators and special educators within Clarence Early the grounds for this research, the researcher chose purposeful sampling, coined by qualitative res earcher, Patton (1987, 1990; as cited in Johnston & Christensen, 2017). In this purposeful sample, participants include d : four Master teachers (MTs) and three Clarence Intervention Team members. Among the staff was a wide array of education and experience. All the master teachers ha d were in Early Childhood Education (ECE). The two master teachers with a degree in ECE were University, the Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) program and the Curriculum and Instruction program. Both teachers had the master teacher position in the two preschool

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20 classrooms at CELC for approximately two years. A third master teacher ha d in Curriculum and Instruction and ha d been a master teacher in a pre K classroom for two years, with 18 years of teaching experience. The fourth master teacher ha d worked in a pre K classroom for eight years, with over 16 years of teaching experience. Of the three specialists on the CIT team: one was (BCBA); one was ; and one was specialists work ed together to consult with the preschool and pre K classrooms to facilitate the needs of those students with special needs. While the rang e was wide, it was determined by the researcher that each participant was qualifie d in some way as a credible participant for this study. Each participant agreed to be a part of this study. All participants signed and returned a consent form for this study (see Appendix A). Each participant was informed of their right to withdraw at any time. The participants were also informed of the purpose of this study and understood that the information from this study w ould be kept private and no names w ould be used. For confidentiality purposes, the researcher utiliz ed letters A and B to distinguish different participant quotes throughout the results. Prior to conducting this study, the researcher received approval from the Colorado Multiple Institutional Review Board . Instrumentation and Data Collection A qualitative interview (see Appendix B) w as the m ethod of data collection. As such, the interview guide approach was utilized , it was more structured than informal conversation and includes interview procedure listing open ended questioning and probes (Johnson & Christensen,

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21 2017) . Questions were asked in any given order and wording was discretion. The interv iew format was a four tiered approach: part one , ha d 6 questions pertaining to demographic s , adapted from Morgan (2016) and Conderman & Johnston Rodriguez (2009) ; part two, ha d 9 open ended questions pertaining to collaboration, adapted from Morgan (2016); part three, ha d 4 open ended questions pertaining to teaching and experience , derived from the researcher ; part four, ha d 5 open ended questions pertaining to experience, adapte d from Conderman & Johnston Rodriguez (2009). All interviews w ere audio recorded. Over a period of five weeks, data w ere collected from the Early Learning Center . A total of seven interviews were conducted with the seven educators . Each interview took approximately 45 60 minutes to complete and an average of two interviews occurred each week . Interviews were held at the early learning center, in a private space where the participant and researcher were not interrupted. The researcher followed the script of questions previously established (see Appendix B). Based on the information learned from the first two interviews, questions that were found to be redundant were skipped and elaboration on the perception of specific systems and func tions were requested of the other participants (e.g. perception of teacher preparation programs, perception on the frequency of meetings, thoughts on ELOs). Throughout each interview, the researcher checked in with the participant to ensure comprehension o f participant meaning and engaged in active feedback with the participants. The data collected comprised of personal experiences and opinions of the master teachers and Clarence Inclusion team members. After each interview was conducted, the researcher began to transcribe the recorded notes taken from each interview. During this process the names were removed, and numbers took the place of participants names. All data w ere collected and transcribed by the researcher into text documents. The re searcher emailed participant s , following the interviews, for

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22 clarification on specific statements and/ or elaboration on experiences that required further insigh t, as needed. Data Analysis As data w ere collected and transcribed, t he analysis began . The re searcher searched for significant statements (Johnson & Christensen, 2017) throughout the transcribed data . The researcher chunked and coded the data and then identified the themes. The relationship between the accruing data and identified themes were analyzed through the constant comparative method (Johnson & Christensen, 2017) . As themes emerged from the collected data, the researcher began to look for patterns between participant perceptions and experiences . Diagrams were created to assist in interpreting data (see Appendix E, F, G, & H). As the researcher began to develop responses , it was established that more analysis was required to generate compl ete understanding and interpretation of the collected data. Here, a classical content analysis (Johnson & Christensen, 2017) began . The data w ere previously segmented into meaningful units, categories. The researcher took these units and assigned them codes . From this process, t he researcher generated a table of inductive codes, in which a master list was established (see Appendix C & D) . The resea rcher began sorting and comparing codes to summarize the information. Through the procedure of enumeration (Johnson & Christensen, 2017) , the researcher was able to determine how frequently the codes emerged in the data. From this process hierarchical relationships appeared , as shown on the constructed tables. In the second stage of coding, it was necessary to create sub categories based on the initial codes obtained from the master list. A table was constructed for each sub category (see Appendix I, J, K, & L). With these additional tables and through the enumeration process , the

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23 researcher was able to identify which components within the su b categories took precedence, according to participant responses. The diagrams and tables assisted in organizing and summarizing the qualitative data, with the intention of clarifying relationships between all these parts. The researcher searched for relat ionships and differences among participant responses, in addition to the relationship between the participant responses and the literature research. This process was repeated until saturation was reached .

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24 CHAPTER FOUR RESULTS Four major themes emerged from the data analysis. The first, l ack of time and heavy teachers, CIT members were not consistent in assuring that intervention recommendations were being practiced and measured. While lack of master teacher training in both intervention strategies and leadership were found to negatively impact communication between the specialists and master teachers. The second theme details the a dvantages within this collaborative dynamic that were found to be influenced by the C IT point person system. Master teacher perception of support manifested due to the sense of common goals, voluntary engagement, and shared responsibilities established within this working partnership. Through this system, a trusting relationship emerge d . The last two themes involve w orking conditions and program incentives that were found to impact master teacher perceptions , as well. Insufficient planning time, curricula and technical deficiencies, and inadequate administrative support were found to impact master teacher perception negatively. While class room ratio, student support, and program incentives were found to impact master teacher perception positively. Each theme will be described with quotes from the data. Time and Caseload T ime and caseload were found to impact the C consistently and effectively collaborate with the master teachers. The researcher noticed that sub categories developed (see Appendix C) . T ime and caseload were found to negatively impact follow up on the part of the C IT members, to ensure that those accom modations were practiced and properly implemented . As explained below:

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25 Researcher: For you, what types of collaboration do you feel are most successful? Either occurring now or that you would like to see? Master Teacher A: I think within our collaboratio n with the CIT team, there could be some better going to be able to work in every classroom the way they want to. Um, but I feel like there could be a better way to do thing s. Just in a sense in working with the Researcher: Is that enough? Master Teacher A: a twelve that you just need to have communication! And sometimes with meetings every with that progress. Below the hierarchical barrier components (e.g. Time and Caseload) emerged an additional sub category of lack of communication , on both sides. As a result of lack of time and heavy caseload, CIT members were not able to communicate with master teachers to the extent needed by the teachers. T riangulation (Johnson & Christenson, 2017) among part icipant responses validated that lack of time directly impacted access to caseload, which then inhibited successful communication among educators ; as a result of disrupted communication, time available was not properly us ed and caseload was negatively impacted (see Appendix G & H) . Due to the CIT members limited numbers of hours available each week, the members were not able to be available for each classroom in the capacity that was needed by the master teachers. As a result, m aster teachers were not able to provide feedback and ask questions that arose in terms of the recommendations that we re developed by the CIT members. As explained below by two CIT members:

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26 CIT Member A: And in the other classrooms (preschool and pre K) , it is more of a consultative model that is used. Which I think still has been successful overall, I think it can be very successful with more hours. But because there are so many classrooms , as I said, I feel stretched other rooms I get the opportunity to go as deep as I would like. A lot of the strategies and conversations are, I feel, a little bit more surface level. CIT Member B: two thr ee days a week and there are how many kids here? And teachers? When fire has come up. I may not be consis tent with getting back to the teacher and finding out what happened in the past few days. And they might not be so derstand what we are probably the most difficult thing, in terms of really making sure things are As explained above, with more hours available each wee k, CIT members would have the capacity to better meet the needs of the classrooms. Additionally, with more hours each week, the CIT team would be better able to manage their ability to follow up with those classrooms in need of more support. Teacher Training and Support T hemes arose in regard to teacher preparation program and professi onal development for the master teachers . Master teachers reported feeling unprepared to work with students with disabilities. It was expressed that teacher preparation programs did not adequately prepare the teachers to work within the inclusive classroom . Additionally, master teachers expressed a need for more training in intervention strategy implementation and measurement. Below is a dialogue with both master teacher s who ha ve discussing teacher preparation program and embedded learning opportunities:

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27 Researcher: What was the most useful aspect of your teacher preparation program that prepared you to work within the inclusive classroom? Master Teacher A: early childhood education experience was more about learning to be in a classroom. Working here, I feel like has done more than my formal education has, just the experience. And that is not to say that things were not explained or learned about. But you do so and those could be lectures that I forgot about. Or maybe it was more about policy and IDEA and all that stuff Researcher: How do you feel about progress monitoring in your classroom? Would you say it is a priority? Master Teacher B : embedded learning opportunities have been implemented in every classroom., because there was no way of seeing if something was working. Researcher: Do you feel like you need more training in embedded learning opportunities? Master teacher B : I might be the only one, but I think I might need a little more of a background in the development and implementation of the embedded learning opportunities. I ing process for sure! I think every teacher is on the same boat intervention we implement. So I de finitely would love more of a background in that. The lack of background in intervention strategies for these master teachers required them to rely on the CIT members to a greater extent than the CIT members were able to provide, regarding the training ser vices required. Additionally, l ack of master teacher training in leadership and large CIT member caseload were found to influence specific recommendations and intervention strategies put in place by the CIT team , for the CIT

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28 kids. Two of the CIT members spoke in detail on their views regarding master teachers need for training in communication and leadership, specifically: CIT member A: And another thing my team talks a lot about that would support the teachers a nd for me it definitely speaks to a communication need in the staff, is master teacher training in leadership. There are probably 40 50% of master teachers in the current role who deeply struggle with leadership. They have a really hard time communicating with their team and with authority about things that need to be done and how they as a master teacher recommend that the team move forward. CIT member B: There are young master teachers working with older associate teachers...so there is experience versus and be confident in those skills. In addition to leadership training, below is a CIT member addressing their heavy caseload: Each CIT member is assigned to two classrooms, as their CIT liaison. We touch base every week. We have monthly meetings with them. And that is going well. But we have so many things, responsibilities and so many things pulling us in different directions th forgotten. And in some ways, Due to the lack of leadership and management training for these master teachers, CIT member were having to assist in the managing of classroom dynamics. Accord ing to both, C IT members and master teachers, the following categories in training and P.D. included (see Appendix I & J ) : intervention strategies and assessment, specifically embedded learning opportunities (ELOs); Pyramid Plus training, specifically Univ ersal strategies and classroom management; curriculum implementation; cooperation and leadership skills; technology training; while training in Teaching Strategies Gold was needed for the CIT members, all of which impacted the collaborative relationship be tween the master teachers and the C IT team members. A response

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29 similar to the C IT team addressing the need for better master teacher communication and leaders h ip within the inclusive classroom, according to one of the master teachers is as follows: Master teacher: I would love to have my team attend the monthly meetings with the C IT team. C IT team, but my team should also be involved . ..We just recently implemented Embedded Learning Opportunities and I was new t make it a team effort. Value Differences Further analysis of data indicated d ifferences in attit udes and beliefs between the educators ( see Appendix E, F & K) . C IT members believed that the master teachers should have a better understanding and background in basic classroom functions, such as universal strategies, classroom management, and curriculum implementation (see Appendix I & F) . Two of the CIT members spoke in detail on their views regarding their beliefs about the master teachers lack of knowledge in intervention and classroom management and how that impacted their ability to do the ir job effectively: CIT member A: even sure if the teachers are implementing the strategies! And that is a precursor heir progress if no CI T member B: ard to support them sometimes! So, I guess better collaboration would

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30 The master teachers believed that it was the responsibility of the C IT members to follow up with the them on the accommodations and intervention strategies prescribed for the C IT students to ensure their proper implementation and fidelity of data assessment was maintained (see Appendix E & K ) . Master teachers also indicate d that a need for more frequent Family C IT meetings and time for more formal meetings through classroom consultation with the C IT members would support them in being more effective with those strategies recommended for the C IT kids, by the C IT team. Below are two master teachers perspective on why it is necessary for the C IT team to provide structured, consistent training in work ing with the various needs of the C IT kids. Master Teacher A : .. I have tricks up my sleeve , thing to be doing, things like that. Researcher: So , C IT members and follow up on those recommendations provided? Master Teacher A : Yes. And maybe reflection. Like meeting with us! We have a curriculum specialist .. .so she does a lot of observing us as teachers. She will record us, so we can reflect on it. I feel like that with the children would be helpful also. Like it to make sure their goals are met .. conversations in the hall way (with C (Family C IT meetings ) k it would be very helpful! And probably throughout the year, but more so at the beginning of the year when we are getting to know those kids. When we are figuring out those best right Master teacher B: We try to use I pads, we use a lot of technology to video tape events so, but years ago we did not have this technology. But not having them ( C IT members) in the

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31 Master Teacher B continued: classroom as much is definitely a Master teacher s expressed concern in implementing the wrong intervention strategy or beginning the development of bad habits due to the lack of support and guidance from the CIT members on a consistent basis. Benefits of CIT Support While there were collaborative relationship, advantages within the working relationship between the C IT team and master teachers surfaced, as well. T he benefit of having the Family C IT meetings and having the C I T team observe in the classrooms , were two current systems that support the master teachers (see Appendix L) . There was also a collaborative consensus from both fields on how the C ELC. With each classroo m assigned a C IT point person, a continuity existed between the master teacher and assigned C IT point person. Through this continuity, a trusting relationship was noted to have emerged based on the feedback . Below is one of the master teacher participant s perception : Master Teacher : Having our CI T point person to review strategies that we are implementing or facilitating a group a) I can watch, but then b) she is getting her eyes on the kids and is able to determine if that specific child need s more work. So , I think it is a team aspect, where I can sit at a center with her, but let her facilitate the center for support. . ..She will directly share with the families who are a part of those groups, instead of relying on teachers to give that feedb ack. She is more of a team member with us, when it comes to the parents. The collaborative relationship between the CIT members and the families, which provides education and bridg es gaps between the services their child is receiving at school and how that can be adapted at home , was noted by four participants to be a big support for the classroom teachers (see Appendix D) . As one CIT member explains below:

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32 Researcher: What types of collaboration do you feel are most successful? Why? CIT member A: I think consultation with the teachers and helping them to develop strategies and helps the parents feel like they are being heard. A lot of times these are young parents or new parents and they just need a little The CIT team collaborative relationship with the parents of those students re ceiving services from the team, was expressed to be a supporting factor in the master teacher and CIT member collaborative relationship. Working Conditions While barriers and advantages reflective of the research questions emerged through the constan t comparative analysis, the researcher also discovered themes that were not related to the research questions. Specifically, themes that emerged within the barriers for the master teachers that were not directly influenced by the collaborative relationship with the C IT members included: lack of teacher planning time; too many meetings (committee meetings and reflective supervision meetings); teacher turn over; dis like for the C4L program; and the TSGs not being an efficient system in general, including not being a reflective measure of C IT kid growth (see Appendix E, I, J & K) . Rather, these barriers were influenced by the current working conditions . Master teachers expressed feelings of be ing overwhelmed by their caseload due to lack of pl anning time and too many meetings. As noted below:

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33 Master Teacher A: So , we have a department specialist. She comes in, well not lately because a staff member is out and she is filling in for that person. But in theory, we have someone come in once a week, on any given day, to give us some relief and time to do things outside of the classroom . . Frequently, we do not have planning time. Master Teacher B: We have a department specialist, so usually we switch off planning each week among the classroom teachers. And we try to do TSG documentation during that to do in the two hours we are allowed .. .that is if we are not short staffed (planning time). Master Teacher A: I feel like the committees, we have the meetings usually happen at 2pm. And each teacher is encouraged to sign up for two committees at the beginning of the year. So , my associates and myself are all on committees and they happen at least once a week! And 2pm is the thick of our lunch breaks and so there are days when I am not taking a break, because my other teachers have to go to meetings, or I am letting them take their breaks and day .. Master Teacher B: So , we have a master teacher meeting once a every three weeks, then we have the associate teacher meetings once every three weeks, so we are checking in with administration at least twice to discuss classroom business. Then we have Master teacher B con tinued: reflective supervision meetings at least once a month, as a class and individually . In terms of teacher turn over, the curriculum and TSG assessment tool, some of the responses included: Researcher: Is teacher turn over a problem at Clarence? Master Teacher A: We go through waves. Like one year can be really bad and I feel like we lose a bunch of people and then the next year, we lose one. Where we have had a hard time keeping some of the quality teache rs is because we have the Mars Institute.

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34 Master Teacher A continued: after I graduate, I can go to DPS or Jefferson county and make tons more money than I am here! Pay is alwa Master Teacher B : It (C4L curriculum) is very scripted and I have been teaching a long time, I have a hard time following a script . are bored out of their mind, because they are reading! This curriculum does not meet my kids where they are! And I feel like, first of all, it causes boredom, discontent, and disruption! And I feel like I am not meeting their (kids) needs. Master Teacher A : For teachers, a negative part of documentation would be, we take pictures or input into TSGs, but finding the time to go back and give a description of what was going on there is where the time frame comes into play. I think the technolog y aspect of it can be done so quickly, using a phone or voice recorder, but getting that to the C IT team is hard. You have to download it and putting it in the email, more imme diate way. Researcher: Do you have something in the TSG framework where those students with special needs, their progress is able to be measured accurately, where they are developmentally? Master teacher A : a great point. they child. And even when we see our kids, like they do this consistently, but with like, level of age range that they are at! Based on the master teacher responses, planning time was a large component in the discussion of working barriers, in addition to the fre quency of meetings. Teacher turn over was noted to be an issue due to the completion of student teacher programs and not enough pay for the teachers. The

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35 pre K master teachers also expressed discontent with the new C4L curriculum , in its ability to accurat ely meet the developmental needs of the students . In addition, the master teachers agreed that the TSG was not an efficient system in sharing information , nor was it a reflective measure for those students who were not typically developing. Benefits at Clarence Early Learning Center Likewise, the researcher identified benefits that emerged from the data analysis that were beyond the scope of the relationship between the C IT team and the master teachers. Benefits such as: student to teacher ratio within the classrooms; co teaching within the classrooms between master and associate teachers; tuition credits that staff received from the University to further their education; and department specialist support. As described below: Master Teacher A: So, we switch off every week, planning the lessons, so everyone gets a chance to teach the way they want or at least have the kids explore the materials in a different way . ..So we each probably have about 8 kids that we track for a few months a nd then we switch and so there we get to work with all of the children at the past. And I think that has also helped with our sense of community and that cooperation piece (f or the kids and teachers). Master Teacher B: My children, one of them is at the University, so she gets a tuition waver, which is enormous! And then I have another child who will be coming along, hopefully to the University, and will get the same discount. So , I anticipate that I will be here ( C ELC) at least another eight years. Ma ster Teacher A: One day a week, we get an extra support staff member (department specialist) ... thing. But at least we can do separate planning, documentation, and input TSGs. So a t least one day a week, unless we need coverage, we get planning time. We are super fortunate with that! A large consensus among the master teachers were the classroom team collaborations (see Appendix K). The tuition credits were another component that provided incentive for the

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36 teachers at CELC. The master teachers also recognized the privilege of having a department specialist to assist with teacher planning time. Conflicting Responses T he researcher notice d that implicit meaning s emerge d among participant responses , specifically pertaining to the need for more training in classroom management and intervention strategies . For example, a pattern arose between the seasoned master teachers and the novice master teachers. While the novice teachers expressed a need for mo re training in leadership, intervention , and were explicit in their direct lack of understanding and concern regarding the ELOs , express ing a desire to learn more , as follows below: Master Teacher A: At the beginning of the year, the CIT team were a large part of the room. Because elp a lot to guide me on best practices and how to do that. While t he seasoned teachers did not express a need for training in leadership or communication skills. Additionally, they tended to talk over th e need for intervention training, rather expressing their comfort level in working with children of various needs due to experience within the classroo m . Seasoned teachers also expressed comfort in implementing the strategies that the CIT team provided. Yet when the researcher probed on intervention strategies implemented within those classrooms, vague responses were given. As the dialogue between the resea rcher and a seasoned master teacher explains below: Researcher: What are your current training needs with regard to professional development? What would serve you most?

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37 Master Teacher A: Hmm. I feel like we are really fortunate cause we get a ton of t raining. Umm, like this organization and so they talked to us about infant and parent mental health and how post partum not only goes with moms, but dads too. It was a really nice d iscussion and something that I feel like we are not always privy too. Especially not being in the infant classroom. Umm. But looking forward, I think like population is not diver would love to take more classes! In the dialogue above, the seasoned master teacher seemed to talk around specific current training needs. When the researcher asked about what types of classes the teacher was interested taking. Her responses continued to be elusive, as follows: Master teacher A: over the years. But really having the opportunity, even with the Mars Institute ECE, round about or the classes are offered at a time that we have no flexibility. Addition ally, when the inquiry about the ELOs came up, responses that were not very clear continued, as the dialogue below entails: Researcher: Do you feel comfortable implementing the ELOs? Master Teacher B : The ELOs? Researcher: The Embedded Learning Opportun ities. Master Teacher B : The E mbedded Learning Opportunities?

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38 Researcher: Designed by the C IT team. With the tallying. Master Teacher B : Oh. Ok. Yes that was good. Researcher: Do you feel comfortable doing the ELOs? Master Teacher B : It takes a long time. Bu However, according to the CIT participants, there was a need for training within these areas across all the master teachers (see Appendix F) . In addition, a pattern of conflict emerged in response to the potential for specialist and master teacher co teaching arrangements within the inclusive classroom , on a full time basis . While all four of the master teachers expressed an interest in the possibility of this arrangement, noting an advantage of this plan included a merging of specialized backgrounds within the inclusive classroom. The C IT members, however, had no interest in such an arrangemen t. As noted by one C IT member: I have very high expectations when it comes to instruction that I provide. And if I teach with another professional, I have high expectations of what that would look ctive. Although, t h e view that the benefits of specialist co teaching produce effective instruction delivery for all students (Kloo & Zigmond, 2008) is consistent with the feedback from the master teacher responses on the topic of specialist co teaching, as described by one ma s ter teacher below:

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39 Master Teacher A: I think so. There are different ways of co teaching though, so you would need to find a system that would work for the team, but that is most beneficial for all of the children in the room. I think that a general education teacher and a special education teacher have such a different way of viewing children and their learning, learning styles that they could bring in their different strategies. That would be beneficial to all of the The master teachers were receptive to the idea of co teaching with the specialist from the CIT team (see Appendix K). The CIT members were not interested in co teaching with the master teachers. Lastly, the topic of master teacher turn over aros e frequently. After close analysis of the participant responses, it was determined by the researcher that the issue of teacher turn over is associated with the student teacher master programs and low pay. According to the responses, once master teacher stu dents complete their program at the University, they leave C ELC. When the researcher probed further into this phenomenon, the consensus among participants was that there was no incentive for the master teacher students to stay. As two participant s explain ed below: CIT member A: .. .that is their incentive to stay! Researcher: Why do you think teacher tur nover is so high at CELC? CIT member B: One of the main things is that many of the teachers here are students at the University and so when they graduate, there is not a great incentive for them to stay here because the pay is low. The participants in this study explained that once teachers graduate from their program through the University, the incentive for them to remain at the early learning center was low. The main incentive discussed by the participants was the pay for master teachers. It was explained that the

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40 pay for master teachers needed to be higher. The high rate of turnover was discussed as a negative impact on the collaborative relationship among th e classroom and CIT member collaboration.

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41 CHAPTER FIVE DISCUSSION There were four major findings that emerged from this current study. Responding to the first question regarding barriers between the collaborative relationship among the educators are l ack of time and heavy caseload , they consistently with the master teachers, inhibiting assurance that intervention recommen dations were being practiced and measured. Additionally , lack of master teacher training in both intervention strategies and leadership were found to negatively impact communication between the specialists and master teachers . As to how these barriers impa cted the working relationship, involves communication. CIT member frustration emerged because of feelings of being stretched thin and overwhelmed, attempting to meet the needs of every classroom. While, master lementing the wrong strategy emerged from the lack of consistent support by the CIT team. Responding to t he last two question s , concerning the advantages of collaborati on and how these benefits impact the working relationship, as perceived by the educators , were found to be influenced by the C IT point person system. Master teacher perception of support manifested due to the sense of common goals, voluntary engagement, and shared responsibilities established within this working partnership. Through this system, a trusting relationship was emerge d . The third finding , divergent of the research questions, explain the barriers that exist outside of the collaborative relationship between CIT members and master teachers. Working conditions and program incentives were found to impact master teacher percep tions as well. Insufficient planning time, curricula and technical deficiencies, and inadequate administrative support were found to impact master teacher perception negatively. Similarly, the fourth finding discusses the advantages outside of the collabor ative relationship

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42 between the CIT members and the master teachers. C lassroom ratio, student support, and program incentives were found to impact master teacher perception positively. The first finding includes the impact of the barriers of time, caseload, training and communication (see Appendix C & F ) between the CIT team and master teachers . These results are similar to Wood (1998) and Griffin et al. (2008) studies in that pragmatic issues including time, caseload, and funding negatively impact the collaborative relationship between the specialist and teachers. According to the CIT members, d ue to the limited amount of time the C IT team was available to assi st the classrooms each week, the quality of support delivered to each classroom was compromised because of the various classrooms and needs within those classrooms at Clarence Early Learning Center. Specifically, CIT members were not able to follow up with master teachers as frequently as both the CIT members and master teachers deem ed necessary to ensure that the recommendations provided were both , implemented and effective for the needs of those students on the CIT team. As a result of the quality of support being compromised, communication between the C IT team and the teachers were directly impacted. CIT members expressed feelings of being overwhelmed and stretched thin because of these time and caseload constraints. Whil e the master teachers explain that they need ed more classroom support from the CIT team to effectively implement the recommended strategies for those CIT students . Reflecting upon these findings, the researcher was reminded of the study conducted by Jones (2012). The approaches between the SESG and the Family CIT meetings were aligned, in addition to the assessment approach between the SESG IRR and the ELO form. Based on the results of this study it is suggested that these methods alone, are simply not enou gh . The master teachers discussed a need for more support and time with the CIT members. The

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43 master teachers expressed a need for the CIT members to come into the classrooms and model interventions that were recommended, as a form of support and training. In addition, d ue to lack of teacher program preparation and professional development, particularly in leadership and intervention strategies for the master teachers , CI T members expressed difficulty in doing their job effectively and efficiently. The findings suggested that the m aster teacher l ack of follow through of the implementation s of those intervention strategies assigned by the CIT team w ere associated with lac k of teacher training in intervention strategies and lack of consistent support from the CIT members . Additionally, l ack of master teacher training in leadership was associated with the classroom dynamic issues that the CIT team were responsible for triagi ng. These results suggest the need for larger system supports for teacher professional development, ongoing coaching and collaboration, which was also recommended by both Odom et al. (2011) and Foley et al . (1998) . In addition, these findings support the research conducted by both Jones (2012) and Wallace et al. (2011), discussing the need for educator training in management and administration skills , in order to achieve successful collaboration between master teach ers and associate teachers within the inclusive classroom. CIT members expressed frustration in having to manage classroom dynamics, rather than being able to focus on teaching the educators how to provide the services for those CIT children , given their t ime and caseload constraints. The researcher noticed the current disparity in who designs the student intervention versus whom provides the student intervention, within the inclusive preschool classroom to be in accordance with the study conduct ed by Hundert (2007). Particularly, with master teacher issues raised around intervention training, implementation, and assessment. Based on the findings of the current study, C IT members were responsible for designing accommodations and

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44 modifications for th e C IT kids with in the inclusive classroom. The master teachers rel ied on the C IT family meetings and the C IT point person meetings to learn and understand the specific strategies developed by the C IT team. The findings in the study also suggest that the di scord among the CIT team and master teachers were related to master teachers lack of automaticity in intervention , similar to the Robinson & Buly (2007) study and lack of availability by the CIT members . Additionally, the current research suggest i nstruction in small group interpersonal skills were lacking for both teachers and s pecialist , similar to the Wood (1998) study. The research indicates that because of this communication barrier, frustrations emerged from both fields (see Appendix D & F ) . M aster teachers expressed a need for more focused support from C IT members and C IT members expressed a need for more focused training for the master teachers. This communication barrier echoes the same issues raised in the stud ies by Conderman & Johntson Ro driguez ( 2009) and Odom et al. (2011) , explaining that teaching practices placed less focus on tasks involving collaboration or consultation skills. The second finding defines the advantages of the collaborative relationship between the C IT team and the master teachers within the inclusive classroom (see Appendix D , K , L ) . Both C IT members and the master teachers expressed appreciation for one another. Master teachers re cognized the benefit of having the specialist available to support them at all. While the C IT members validated the heavy workload placed on the master teachers with their day to day responsibilities. With a C IT point person assigned to each classroom, continuity allowed for trusting relationships to develop. The C IT team and parent collaboration w ere also determined to support the classroom dynamic. This collaborative relations hip made the master teachers feel supported by

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45 the C IT members. This system of support for the master teachers by the C IT point person generated a trusting relationship, whic h is an essential component to ensure the success of an inclusive classroom as suggested in the study conducted by Morgan ( 2016) . While the consultative model was explained to be the primary collaborative approach between the C IT team and the preschool and pre K classrooms, the researcher discovered that many other collaborative components existed within the working relationship between the C IT team and the master teachers. Additional forms included: co teaching, cooperative teaming, informal and formal mee tings , all components of collaboration discussed by Morgan ( 2016 ) and Van Garderen et al. ( 2012) . Of these forms of collaborations, two w ere concluded by the master teachers to be most effective: formal meetings, in which C IT members t each strateg y interventions and allow for feedback to be exchanged; and consultations, in which C IT members support and guide teachers in working with the C IT kids. The third finding took a different direction in this research. Findings that did not directly reflect t he collaborative relationship among the C IT members and the master teachers, but still present ed a barrier for the master teachers. These barriers were found to be related to instructional assistance, instructional materials, and time for planning, as ment ioned in the study by Bettini et al. (2016), consistent with working conditions that impact teaching quality. The pre K master teachers expressed frustration over the new C4L curriculum. Both teachers felt that the literacy part of the curriculum did not m eet their students where they were academically. The frequency of committee meetings and productivity of the group reflective supervision meetings were also discussed to be aspects that felt overwhelming and exasperating for the teachers. It was suggested by the master teachers , a need to have less of these types of meetings and more, consistent teacher planning time.

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46 Additionally, similar to the study by Griffin et al. (2008), the researcher discovered through the findings that Clarence as the novice special educators . Specific examples included complex behavior and academic challenges of studen ts, heavy caseloads, curricula and technical resource deficiencies, inadequate administrative support, insufficient time for planning, and collaboration and professional development. The seasoned master teachers also expressed concern regarding heavy casel oad, curricula and technical resource deficiencies, inadequate administrative support, and insufficient time for planning. TSGs and its lack of efficiency in sharing documentation a cross systems and how it was not an accurate measure of progress for those students with developmental delays. The fourth finding, parallel to the third finding in terms of directional veering, explain ed the advantages master teachers view , as a result of working at Clarence Early Learning Center. These advantages include d student to teacher ratio within the classrooms; classroom team collaboration; tuition credits and benefits that staff receive ; and support from the department specialist , when consistent . One inconsistency was found between the study by Bettini et al., (2016) and th e findings of the current research. In the article, small classroom size was found to influence the efficacy of instructio n and classroom ratio was not. However, master teachers in the current study expressed value in having three adults to twenty students . As one master teacher explained below: Since we have three teachers in the classroom, we are able to take a break (during high intense classroom moments), to go for 5 minutes and grab a coffee or take a Master t eachers also expressed how much they valued working collaboratively with their associate teachers. Emphasis on individual team member strengths, sharing of responsibilit y for

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47 the CIT students, co teaching, sharing the decision making process were among the attributes of the classroom team. This collaborative dynamic was mentioned in the stud ies conducted by Wallace et al. (2001 ) and Jones (2012) . Additional findings conclude d that t he school was unique in that it provide d teacher support through the C IT team. C ELC recognize d the importance of development in the early years and early intervention, by encouraging the C IT team to provide services to those children who did not qualify for an IEP, yet still display ed developmen tal concerns. Moreover, b ecause of affiliation with the University, the staff were provided opportunities to further their education through tuition credits . This was discussed as a large incentive in working at CELC. Mars Institute also provide d support through training and consultation for the school. And C ELC prioritize d families as partners in learning and collaboration among the staff for the children. Al l these components were described by the participants to be advantages of working at Clarence Early Learning Center (see Appendix D & K) . Implications Based on the findings of this study, teacher preparation programs might consider developing and implementing collaborative based activities , including assessment approaches, communication strategies, and conflict resolution skills as suggested by Foley et al. (1998). Additional findings suggest that Clarence E arly L earning C enter may consider ongoing professional development training in leadership skill s , universal strategies, and intervention strategies . The findings also suggest th e need for larger school systems, specifically administration , to advocate for more resources toward teacher planning time and time for collaboration among special and general educators.

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48 Future Research Based on the limitations of this research, it is suggested that future research consider including multiple early learning centers, particularly c enters that reflect the diverse community, within the inclusive classroom. Additionally, it is suggested that future research utilize multiple methods of data collection. In addition to interviews, perhaps administering surveys or questionnaires to measure the full scope of participant perception and collaboration. Multiple coders are also suggested in future research within the purview of a study, for the purp ose of strengthening reliability. Future research should investigate the benefits of a collaborative based training for educators in the develop ment of their own intervention strategies and the benefits of teacher preparation program s incorporating training on leadership and inter personal skills , including group communication, problem solving, and conflict resolution . Conclusion The promotion of inclusion and the quality of instruction are reliant on the successful collaboration betw een the special and general educators within the inclusive preschool classroom (Morgan, 2016). The findings of this study were reinforced by Robinson & Buly (2007) and training, communication, and value systems directly impact collaborative relationship between the two fields. Because of the demands from the IDEIA of 2004 placed on instructors within the inclusive classrooms, there is a necessary call for attention to ad dress these concerns. Additional awareness into the phenomen a of obstacles that exist within these educator relationships can support role clarity, classroom cohesion, IEP implementation, and ultimately problem solving to improve learning for all preschool students.

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49 References Bettini, E. A., Crockett, J. B., Brown ell, M. T., & Merrill, K. L. (2016). Relationships The Journal of Special Education , 50 (3), 178 190. D oi : 10.1177/0022466916644425 Conderman, G. , & Johnston collaborative roles. Preventing school failure: Alternative education for children and youth , 53 (4), 235 244. D oi : 10.3200/PSFL.53.4.235 244 . Fol ey, R. M., Skipper, S. B., Cowley, C. M., & Angell, C. A. (1997). Self perceived competence of general educators participating in collaboration activities: A survey of preservice educators. The Teacher Educator, 33 (2), 1 12 123. D oi : 10.1080/08878739709555164 Griffin, C. C., Kilgore, K. L., Winn, J. A., Otis Wilborn, A. (2008). First relationships with their general education colleagues. Teacher Education Quarterly, 35 (1), 141 157. Hundert, J. P. (2007). Training classroom and resource preschool teachers to develop inclusive class interv entions for children with disabilities: Generalization to new intervention targets . Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 9 (3), 159 173. Johnson, R. B. , & Christensen, L. (2017). Educational research: Quantitative, qualitative, and mixed approaches ( 6th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.

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50 Jones, B. A. (2012). Fostering collaboration in inclusive settings: The special education students at a glance approach. Intervention in School and Clin ic 47 (5), 297 306. Kloo, A. , & Zigmond, N. (2008). Coteaching revisited: Redrawing the blueprint. Alternative Education for Children and Youth, 52 (2), 12 20. D oi : 10.3200/PSFL.52.2.12 20 Morgan, J. L. (2016). Reshaping the role of a special educator into a collaborative learning specialist. International Journal of Whole Schooling , 1 2 (1), 40 60. Odom, S. L., Buysse, V., & Soukakou, E. (2011). Inclusion for young children w ith disabilities: A quarter century of research perspectives. Journal of Early Interventions. 33 (4), 344 356. Odom, S. L. , & Wolery, M. (2003). A unified theory of practice in early intervention/early childhood special education: Evidence based practices. The Journal of Special Education, 37 (3), 164 173. Robinson, L. , & Buly, M. R. (2007). B reaking the language barrier: Promoting collaboration between g eneral and special educators. Teacher Education Quarterly , 34 (3) 83 94. U.S. Department of Health and Human S ervices & U.S. Department of Education (2015). Pol icy statement on inclusion of children with disabilities in early childhood education. Retrieved from https://www2.ed.gov/about/inits/ed/earlylearning/inclusion/index.html

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51 Van Garderen, D., Stormont, M., & Goel, N. (2012). Collaboration between general and special educators and student outcomes: A need for more research. Psychology in the Schools , 49 (5), 483 497. D oi : 10.1002/pits.21610 Wallace, T., Shin, J., Bartholomay, T., & Stahl, B.J. (2001). Knowledge and skills for teachers supervising the work of paraprofessionals. Exceptional Children, 67 , 520 533. Weiss, M. P., Pellegrino, A., Regan, K., & Mann, L. (2014). Beyond the blind date: Collaborative course development and co teaching by teacher educators. Teacher Education and Special Education, 38 (2) , 88 104. D oi : 10.1177/0888406414548599 Wood, M. (1998). Whose job is it anyway? Educational roles in inclusion. Exceptional Children, 64 (2) , 18 1+. Retrieved from http://link.galegroup.com.aurarialibrary.idm.oclc.org/apps/doc/A20200056/AONE?u=auraria_mai n&sid=AONE&xid=96292c63

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52 APPEN IDICES Appendix A Consent For m Principal Investigator: Georgia Cormier COMIRB No: 18 0791 Version Date: February 5, 2019 Study Title: The investigation of barriers between general educators and special educators within the inclusive preschool classroom. You are being asked to be in a research study. This form provides you with information about the study. A member of the research team will describe this study to you and answer all of your questions. Please read the information below and ask questions abou t . Why is this study being done? This study plans to learn more about the barriers that exist between general educators and special educators within the preschool inclusive class room. You are being asked to be in this research study because of your educational background and experience that you have gained within the inclusive preschool classroom and through professional development . Specifically, to gain your perception of these barriers and what you feel has prepared you to work in the inclusive preschool environment. Up to ten people will participate in the study. What happens if I join this study? If you join the study, you will be interviewed by the investigator. The interview should take thirty to forty five minutes and will be recorded. What are the possible discomforts or risks? There are no risks in this study. All participants will be kept co nfidential, as no names will be used in this study. Participants will be identified by number and only the principal investigator will know which number is assigned to each participant. You may be asked questions that require honest open ended feedback about your experiences as an educator within the inclusive classroom. Because of this, you may

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53 feel some discomfort. *You have the right to choose not to answer any question that may evoke discomfort. What are the possible benefits of the study? This study is designed for the researcher to learn more about potential barriers that exist within the inclusive classroom between general educators and special educators. Your feedback holds the potential to add to current research on such barriers. Possi ble benefits include more support in the inclusive classrooms and between general educators and special educators in the future. Will I be paid for being in the study? Will I have to pay for anything? You will not be paid to be in the study. It will not cost you anything to be in the study. Is my participation voluntary? Taking part in this study is voluntary. You have the right to choose not to take part in this study. If you choose to take part, y ou have the right to stop at any time. If you refuse or decide to withdraw later, you will not lose any benefits or rights to which you are entitled. Who do I call if I have questions? The researcher carrying out this study is Georgia Cormier. You may ask any questions you have now. If you have questions later, you may call Georgia Cormier at (720) 404 2269. You may have questions about your rights as someone in this study. You can c all Georgia Cormier with questions. You can also call the Multiple Institutional Review Board (IRB). You can call them at 303 724 1055. Who will see my research information? We will do everything we can to keep your records a secret. It cannot be guara nteed. Both the records that identify you and the consent form signed by you may be looked at by others.

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54 Federal agencies that monitor human subject research Human Subject Research Committee The group doing the study The group paying for the study Regul atory officials from the institution where the research is being conducted who want to make sure the research is safe The results from the research may be shared at a meeting. The results from the research may be in published articles. Your name will be kept private when information is presented. The interviews will be audio recorded for accuracy and fidelity to responses. The investigator will place the recordings under lock and key for confidentiality purposes. The investigator will keep recordings for 1 year, then audio recordings will be erased. Agreement to be in this study I have read this paper about the study or it was read to me. I understand the possible risks and benefits of this study. I know that being in this study is voluntary. I choose to be in this study: I will get a copy of this consent form. Signature: Date: Print Name: Consent form explained by: Date: Print Name: Investigator: Date:

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55 Appendix B Interview Questions Part 1: Demographics 1. What is your gender? 2. What is your race? 3. What is your highest level of education? 4. Years of experience in teaching ? 5. Current position at child development center ? How long? 6. How would you define yourself as an educator and/or member of the FIT team ? Part 2: Collaboration 1. What types of Collaboration have you been involved in this year? 2. What types of collaboration were most successful? Why?

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56 3. How could more effective collaboration with special educators help you as a teacher? OR How c ould more effective collaboration with teachers help you as a special educator? 4. How could it help your students? 5. Are you interested in co teaching with a special educator or specialist/ vise versa? Why or why not? 6. In your opinion, what are the benefits for co teaching for IEP students? 7. What are the benefits for non IEP students? 8. How could we use technology to improve collaboration ? 9. How should responsibility for planning, instruction, and evaluation be shared between the teachers and special educators ?

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57 Part 3: Experience questions 1. A . What is the curriculum currently used within your classroom? B. What evidenced based practices do you currently employ within your classroom? C. What current assessment tools are you implementing? 2. A re there a ny other barriers between general and special educators that you experience or would like to share? Explain? 3. Please share an example/s of an incident/s specific to barriers when working within the inclusive classroom. 4. Please share an example/s of an incident/s of advantages when working collaboratively within the inclusive preschool classroom. Part 4: Experience questions 1. What is the most useful aspect from your teacher preparation program regarding students with di sabilities ? 2. Describe your comfort level in working with students with IEPs within the inclusive classroom.

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58 3 . What are your current training needs? 4 . Do you plan to remain a teacher/ Special Educator for at least 3 more years? 5 . What advice do yo u have for beginning GETs/ SETs?

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59 Appendix C Analysis of Master Code s Barriers BARRIERS #1 #2 #3 #4 #5 #6 #7 Time IIIII IIIII I I III I IIII II Caseload III IIII III IIIII III IIIII IIII Communication IIIII II II IIIII II IIIII II Follow through II I I I II II Follow Up I I II I I Training/ Ongoing P.D. II I II IIIII II I Teacher Turnover II I II II II Technology I I I Value Code IIIII I IIIII III IIIII I IIII IIIII IIIII IIIII I Curriculum I II IIII Key: IIIII : reflect barrier priority (determined by 5+) III : reflect consistency across participants (determined by 4+) #: represents a specific participant P.D.: represents Professional development representing his/her perspective

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60 Appendix D Analysis of Master Codes Benefits B ENEFITS #1 #2 #3 #4 #5 #6 #7 Teacher: Student ratio I II I I Classroom team collaboration I III III II Department specialist I I III I Curriculum Specialist I Reflective Supervision meetings I I C IT Team Collaboration IIII III I IIII III IIIII III I pads in rooms I Advantages of C .E.L.C. IIII II IIII IIII III I I Parent collaboration II II I I Key: IIIII : reflect benefit priority (determined by 4+) III : reflect consistency across participants (determined by 4+) #: represents a specific participant C IT: Clarence Inclusion Team P.D.: professional development C .E.L.C.: Clarence Early Learning Center

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61 Appendix E Barriers Hierarchy Master Teachers TIME CIT members only available 10 hours each week Time impacts consistency and follow up from CIT team CIT intensives take support away from other classrooms Need for more frequent Family CIT meetings CIT Team not often available when needed Two hour planning time each week is not enough Planning for teachers rarely occurs CASELOAD Inhibits follow through with CIT kids Too many meetings ELOs just one more thing to do Feeling Overwhelmed Too many committees COMMUNICATION Time and Caseload impact communication Master teacher turnover Value differences Too many informal hallway conversations Training/ P.D. Need for ongoing refresher training in Pyramid plus Master teacher training in communication style and Leadership Teachers need ongoing training on intervention strategies Difficulty Monitoring progress for CIT Kids Teachers need training on data collection and assessment CIT team needs training on TSGs progress monitoring

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62 Appendix F Pragmatic and Conceptual Barriers : C IT Team Pragmatic Barrier : lack of time to consult, funding issues, and large caseloads for SETs (Wood, 1998) Conceptual barrier : different disciplines that may not understand/ agree with educational strategies of one another, sense of hierarchy, increase of classroom interventions being perceived as intrusive (Wood, 1998) *** C IT team hours available each week ** teachers lacking in knowledge of data collection, strategy implementation, measuring progress * * * CI T team caseload * teachers lack tools and value of reflection * Grant funding for C IT team hours ** C IT team training teachers on ELOs * Consultative model could be very succes sful if we had more hours * teachers lack automaticity in intervention ** C IT team has so many responsibilities and so many diff. things pulling them in different directions *** C IT team lacks knowledge in TSGs ** Lack of C IT team time impacts ability to fol low up with classrooms and C IT kids ** Teachers feeling overwhelmed with paperwork and integrating various tracking tools * Would be helpful to be here five days a week *** Unsure if teachers are implementing strategies for C IT students *** I triage my time ** Progress evaluation does not occur for C IT kids * concerned about funding for such support to remain IEPs ** C IT team was being used to assist classrooms on management strategies, teacher classroom dynamics that need to be addressed, not the best use of FIT members time * presents a challenge curriculum turn over * challenge for CIT team to support teachers when they lack skills around the curriculum, universal strategies and how they tie into each other * triage requires putting out fires and managing teacher dynamics, C IT members time wasted * ELOs not seamless yet, C IT members concerned about adding to teacher paperwork * C around * ic projection of their interactions with teaching students *Teachers lack initiative to reach out when feeling neglected KEY: * Represents a CIT Member CIT Clarence Inclusion Team *Every teacher in this building on the surface, is willing to collaborate

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63 Appendix G C IT Member Hierarchical Barriers CIT team used to assist classrooms on management strategies, teacher classroom dynamics; not the best use of our time Too many informal (hallway) conversations Teachers lacking strategy implementation, knowledge of data collection, & measuring progress Teachers lack tools and value of reflection Every teacher in the building, on the surface, is willing to collaborate So many responsibilities and and so many different things pulling us in different directions Too many meetings Triaging our time CIT member limited time available 10 hours each week Impacts ability to follow up consistently Time Caseload Communication Value differences

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64 Appendix H CI T Team Triangulation of Barriers CIT members available 10 hours a week Lack of CIT time impacts ability to follow up on CIT kid gaols TIME Too many meetings Some kids are forgotten due to Triage Overwhelmed & Stretched thin CASELOAD Too many informal meetings in the hallway Unsure if teachers are implementing CIT strategies Teachers lack automaticity in intervention COMMUNICATION Curriculum and Universal Strategies Intervention strategies and data assessment Technology LACK OF TEACHER TRAINING Teachers lack follow through of recommendations by CIT team CIT team triage Communication Teacher dynamics Need for better communication b/w CIT team & teachers CIT members not available VALUE

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65 Appendix I Analysis of Coded Categories Need for Training/ Professional Development Training/ Ongoing P.D. #1 #2 #3 #4 #5 #6 #7 Training/ coaching at BOY on intervention strategies/ best practices I Ongoing CIT kid/ teacher interaction training by the CIT team II Quarterly Family CIT meetings I II I More climate surveys throughout the year I I Ongoing Intervention strategies training I II II II III I Teacher preparation Program did not prepare me to work within the inclusive classroom I I III Training on Cooperation and Leadership Skills I III II I Ongoing Pyramid Plus Training I I II II P.D. in collaboration and communication styles I I I Curriculum and TSG training I I I I Training in typical Child Development I Training in counseling parents I KEY: III Consistency across participants (4+) # Represents participants BOY Beginning of the year

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66 Appendix J Analysis of Coded Categories Technology Technology #1 #2 #3 #4 #5 #6 #7 Video recordings as a tool for CIT kid behavioral observation I III Technology that is strategic, accessible, and efficient IIII I I I III III Need for cameras/ microphones as a means for student/ teacher interaction observation I I Lack of technological training at Clarence I I III I Technology issues impact communication between CIT members/ teachers I I I Lack of technological experience I I Need for more training in technology at Clarence I II KEY: III Consistency across participants (4+)

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67 Appendix K Analysis of Codes Values Value s #1 #2 #3 #4 #5 #6 #7 Teacher dynamics need to be addressed I II II I II I Consulting most successful form of collaboration II Too many committees III I I Interested in co teaching w/ specialist I I I I Family population at Clarence affluent I II I TSG not reflective of CIT kid growth I I I I TSG inefficient system I I I I CIT intensives take away from other classroom support I I Teachers are valued at Clarence I I II CIT members are valued I I II Too many meetings II II II CIT team observation most successful form of collaboration I I Need better communication b/w CIT team & teachers III I I I I Need for quarterly CIT team meetings I II I CIT members not available I I I I I I I CIT team tries to make ELOs simple I II II boss the teachers I Limited funding for CIT members hours available I

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68 Feeling overwhelmed and stretched thin I I I I I Just not a technological person I I I II Collecting formal data on CIT kids is not a priority I I I I CIT team makes themselves available when needed I I I initiative to reach out when needed I Teachers vary in skill set and motivation I Teacher lack tools and value of reflection II Benefits/ tuition credits are incentives for working at Clarence I I I I I I Classroom team best form of collaboration I II I III CIT members come into classroom and model interventions is best I I I II Express confidence in working with CIT kids I I Expresses comfort in implementing strategies that CIT team provides I I CIT team would be more effective if teachers did a better job w/ Curriculum II Need for shifting perspectives across fields I Afraid to do the wrong thing w/ CIT kids I II Key: IIII consistent value across participants; IIII 4+ score value o f importance

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69 Appendix L Benefits of Collaboration/ Master Teacher Values: M.T. M.T. M.T. M.T. CIT Point Person I I II C IT member bridge parents & teachers III C IT Team observes in classrooms IIII I C IT members work with C IT kids II C IT members support and guide classroom teachers in working with C IT kids III I I II C IT members teach teachers about strategies and interventions III I II I Family C IT meetings I II II C IT Intensives I I C IT members support all students in the classroom I II KEY: IIII consistent value across participants; III 4+ score value of importance ; M.T. Master teacher