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Developing a Successful Co-Teaching Partnership
The most successful teachers recognize that a team of teachers, students and their parents, and other faculty and administrators – a collaborative effort – creates the best chance of success for students, especially for students with disabilities or other special needs.
What is Co-Teaching?
Collaborative teaching, or “co-teaching,” matches this teamwork philosophy. According to co-teaching researchers Whitten and Hoekstra, “Collaborative teaching is a professional partnership between two or more educators that erases traditional boundaries and allows them to make informed decisions when designing, communicating, and monitoring instruction through reflective teaching.”
Co-teaching lends focus to students’ abilities, rather than disabilities. It gives students with special needs the opportunity for a typical school routine, and creates a shift from a “my children/your children” philosophy – which separate classrooms perpetuate – to “our children.”
Tips for Successfully Implementing Co-Teaching
Of course, like with any teaching philosophy, implementing and having success with co-teaching can be difficult. Here are five points of parity that will provide a great start to any co-teaching partnership.
- Both teachers’ names should be on the classroom door or other visible locations as indicators of room ownership.
- Both teachers’ names should appear on documents going home with students.
- Both teachers should deliver instruction and lead class routine and activities on a daily basis.
- Both teachers should share in classroom management, including discipline.
- Both teachers should plan lessons and grade papers.
Along with planning and discipline, communicate how to handle classroom responsibilities, such as:
- Classroom structure.
- Grading assignments.
- Grading options.
- Modifications and accommodations.
Key Concepts to Remember
- Before you meet with your co-teacher, determine your personal teaching style on planning and discipline.
- Once you define who you are, then discuss your philosophies with your co-teacher.
- Effective co-teaching involves forming a strong partnership built on trust and willingness to try new ideas.
- There are many styles and approaches to co-teaching. The goal should be to have both teachers actively involved daily in delivering instruction. This might look different each day as you implement the various models and adjust them to meet the individual needs of your classroom
- What matters most is that teachers are committed to student learning and are willing to make that happen!
Exceptional Child includes several online professional development courses to help educators working in co-taught classrooms.