1. Introduce each others roles in the classroom as equal but different. For example, the general education teacher is introduced as the content area specialist and the special education teacher is introduced as the learning strategies specialist. Other co-teaching teams choose to not identify role differences and simply introduce themselves as “the teachers” of the class.
2. Gain an understanding of personality styles. This knowledge can change your life as well as improve all your collaborative relationships. Co-teaching is like an arranged marriage. How you deal with your colleague’s personality can make or break the relationship.
3. Plan daily lessons, activities, tests, assignments, etc. in collaboration with each other.
4. As much as possible, make sure the entire team is working together, including the teacher, co-teacher, paraprofessional, parents, and students.
5. Work with each other to effectively implement adaptations, modifications, and accommodations required by the IEP without reducing content.
6. Collaborate with each other to develop a discipline policy and determine the roles you will play when discipline is necessary.
7. Make sure both teacher and co-teacher work with all students on an individual and group basis.
8. Teach, and re-teach, specific learning skills to students that need them. Reinforce alternative learning techniques.
9. Prep time is minimal and precious, and is not always the same for both co-teachers. Therefore, share as much information beforehand as possible through your school’s teacher mailboxes or email so your planning time can be used with maximum benefit.
10. Partner with colleges and universities to have students who are studying to be teachers present activities, provide demonstrations, review with games, and help with test prep to free up time for co-teachers to plan. Teachers will need to plan in the room because of liability issues; however it’s a viable option when planning time is scarce.
11. Use email and Microsoft Word’s “Insert Comments” and “Track Changes” (under “Tools”) features to collaborate on accommodations and adaptations.
12. Be flexible, identify and focus on each co-teacher’s strengths, adopt a “They are ALL my students” attitude, and consider the impact of personality, gender, and culture differences on your relationship with your co-teacher.
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!
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