Question Detail

Does Co-Teaching Work?

Jul 4, 2013 10:41pm

What strategies do you use to make a good co-teaching environment? What advice would you give a new co-teacher to prevent a rough start?

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    • Jul 9, 2013 7:50am

      I did it for 13 years and I totally agree with Katie. The most important aspect is that you are both in charge of all students. Ideally, the students should not know who the special ed teacher is and who the regular ed teacher is. Both should be taking turns correcting all papers. If you work together to correct a few so that you are on the same page, that would be best.

      It is also good to talk to all students about learning styles and that some people need more visual assistance and some people need more audial assistance. That way, when a test is occurring, you say to the students, who would like to have the test read aloud? Then one of you will stay in the classroom and the other will take the students to another setting where the test can be read aloud. If you have technology readily available, you could record the test being read and put it in a podcast for the students to listen to and the teacher with them would just monitor while they took it.

      Similar personalities and teaching philosophies make it much easier as well. Oh, and watch out for students trying to make you two play: good cop, bad cop. They can easily pick out the softy and start to manipulate and take advantage.

      The most difficult thing is when the school starts to overload the class just because there are two teachers in there. That defeats the purpose and causes a lot of stress. There will be less effective teaching and more disciplining happening. Believe me, this was the case for us most of the time.

      Next year, we are doing away with co-teaching and that makes me very sad. Teaching can be so lonely. I cannot tell you the number of times having another person in the room was a saving grace.

      • Jul 6, 2013 6:18pm

        I have co-taught for the past seven years with the most talented special education teacher in the world, and I think that one important thing to remember is that both teachers should be responsible for teaching all children. My co-teacher and I always say that if someone walked in the room, they wouldn't know which students were on IEPs and which ones were regular education. Every student in the room gets the best of both of us, and nothing makes me happier than when the regular ed. students go and ask her a question before me. That's success. We communicate and teach each other every day.

        Good luck!

        • Jul 12, 2013 7:52am

          I have been co teaching for many years. Communication and consistency are key. Unfortunately, I have never had the same co teacher twice which has made this very difficult. I have had excellent and not so excellent co teachers, but ultimately the goal is that no one knows who has the IEP and who doesn't. I enjoy co teaching, but I haven't always. It is important to understand that you have a second teacher in the room and not just an aide or helper, and that the co teacher understand that as well. I think in the right setting, with the right pair this can be an awesome experience. It can also be disastrous if either teacher decides that they are in charge or can do whatever. You must hold to mutual respect and teamwork. It works especially well in the learner centered classroom. That is success in the long run!

          • Jul 14, 2013 9:05am

            For the last eleven years I have been the inclusion, resource, and co-teacher in the classroom. It is very difficult being the special ed teacher coming into a forced Co-taught classroom. Communication, bonding with the regular teacher, and YES!! Professional development training together helps build that bond if it already doesn't exist. Wendy Murawski email:

            Has an excellent training on co-teaching together. She gives you step by step strategies that actually work in the classroom. She also gives you a booklet, that is actually a great resource, to help you go back and reflect on all her reccomendations. I know I pull mine out at least once every year.

            Common Plan time is a must to make Co-teaching successful. If you can't plan together than it is a wash. You have to be on the same page to both be presenting the lesson. It does take about 3 years to get a really good rhythm going. 1. lesson plan implementation, 2. reflection 3. perfection. So it should have a major commitment on the part of both teachers.
            Both teachers need to be responsible for preparing work sheets, centers or any type of manipulative you might use for the lesson. I have been expected to do it all in the past, and that is a road to quick burn out.

            • Jul 14, 2013 9:09am

              For secondary levels, remember in most states, Co-teachers have to be certified in the content area also, so make the most of another certified teacher in the classroom. Special education teachers are wonderful resources, but be sure to communicate clearly. Also, there is a very fine line special education teachers walk when balancing Co-teaching classes, IEP's, Setting up meetings and teaching their own classes. Some states require more work out of their special ed teachers than others. So balancing plan time and teaching time and IEP's can be difficult. Imagine doing everything you do to prepare your lessons, and adding all the IEP paperwork too. It can be overwhelming depending on the caseload size. That varies as well depending on state and districts, but I have seen teachers with 9, 26, 35, & as many as 50 - 70 students on their caseloads.

              If you can get all that worked out, the STUDENTS! are the ones who benefit the most. TEST SCORES will SOAR students have less down time, and more assistance to help.
              Students are more open to one on one tutoring and they don't care who they get help from, they just want to be successful.

              The final benefit of true Co-teaching is BOTH teachers get to take a step back and see how their students are re-acting during lessons when they are walking around the classroom. What goes on behind you teaching back can sometimes shock you or explain a million questions you might have. It also helps if you need to gather data on student behaviors for upcoming IEP meetins.

              Best of luck to you! I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

              • Jul 16, 2013 1:39pm

                Communication for sure! But don't whisper to your colleague in front of other co-workers, very unprofessional....Communication must be open to all Colleagues whether Teacher, Para & Aide are involved...Makes a HAPPY ATMOSPHERE!! Especially in an
                ESE class!!
                Best of wishes!

                • Jul 6, 2013 1:29pm

                  I love the 2nd article!

                  • Jul 6, 2013 2:07pm

                    Thank you so much! These are some very practical tips!

                    • Jul 8, 2013 11:01am

                      How did you establish the level of respect for each other? Were you both willing participants in the beginning?

                      • Jul 12, 2013 8:09am

                        As a general education teacher, did your administrator ask if you would like to be a co-teacher? Do you think that teachers should be asked to volunteer? What about professional development? Do you think it would be more helpful to both teachers if they went to training together? It seems like to me we often just get this concept thrown at us and everyone is not on board or excited about the idea. One teacher feels she is being viewed as not effective on her own.

                        How can we support our staff to co-teach? How can we gain support from our administration to make it successful?

                        I have so many questions, i know! Answer any you feel you can offer advice.

                        Thank you, ahead of time!