Before beginning a co-teaching relationship, and periodically during that relationship, it is important to sit down and plan with your co-teacher. Not only will effective planning benefit your students, it will benefit both teachers as well, as there will be less conflict, confusion, and stress.
For teachers who are new to co-teaching, however, knowing what to discuss during the planning process can seem as daunting as co-teaching itself. To help you prepare for your co-teaching experience, consider these key planning and discussion points with your co-teacher:
Planning time for co-teaching
- How much time do we need to plan?
- When will we make the time to plan?
- What checks can we put in place to ensure we use our time effectively?
- What documentation or materials should we bring to the planning meeting with us?
Plan your co-teaching instruction together
- How will we determine the content to be taught? Will we use curriculum compacting, curriculum mapping data, or state standards to target the most critical content?
- Who will plan what?
- When will the special education co-teacher implement instruction to students with disabilities, without disabilities, both?
- How will the co-teacher implement instruction?
- How will we decide who teaches what?
- Who creates curriculum adaptations, accommodations, and modifications?
- Who adapts the tests?
- How will we use our strengths in the classroom when planning instruction?
- How will we present the content? Will one person do all the direct teaching or will both share responsibility for teaching the lesson?
- Should we rotate responsibilities?
- If working with a paraprofessional, who will train the paraprofessional to use the specific instruction strategies?
- Who will evaluate the effectiveness of the instruction provided by the paraprofessional?
How will you handle classroom behavior issues while co-teaching?
- What are the classroom expectations (i.e., classroom rules) for students and adults?
- How are classroom expectations communicated to the students?
- What is the plan to address unacceptable student behavior in a timely manner?
- What are the specific roles of the adults in the room in supporting positive student behavior?
- How will we be consistent in managing behavior and support each other’s authority?
- What are our pet peeves? What student behavior pushes our buttons? What can we not tolerate in the classroom?
- If our discipline style is very different, where can we find common ground?
Consider these student behavior issues while co-teaching
- How will we ensure regular communication with each other?
- How will we address our communication needs with each other?
- Who will communicate with the parents of students on an IEP? The students who are not on an IEP? Do we share the responsibility for communication equally?
- How should we handle conflict or concern with each other to preserve the harmony of our relationship?
- When one of us wants to share a new idea should we present it in writing first so there’s time to process or just talk about it?
- Who will communicate with parents about: routine daily occurrences, unusual situations, other?
- What do we need to know about each other?
- What do I need in order to work effectively in my classroom?
- What can I absolutely not tolerate in my co-teacher?
- What am I looking forward to in the co-teaching relationship?
- What are my non-negotiables?
- The most important thing to me in our co-teaching relationship is…?
- What are our expectations of each other?
- How do we react to unexpected changes in plans?
- What are our expectations regarding:
- Class work and homework being done on time, or independently?
- Noise level?
- Small-group work?
- Differentiating instruction?
- Giving or receiving feedback?
- Dividing the work load?
Do you co-teach? If so, what planning issues do you face when co-teaching? Why? What strategies do you find work to promote collaboration with your co-teaching partner? What positive advice can you give other co-teachers?
For more information on co-teaching and co-teaching models, see Susan Fitzell’s book, Co-teaching and Collaboration in the Classroom. Available in both print and electronic versions!
We also offer a Professional Development Kit for Co-teachers, with a Graduate Credit Option!
Bring Susan to your campus!
Featured seminar – Co-teaching and Collaboration