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.

Are you ready for your co-teaching experience?

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:
    1. Class work and homework being done on time, or independently?
    2. Grading?
    3. Noise level?
    4. Small-group work?
    5. Differentiating instruction?
    6. Giving or receiving feedback?
    7. 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?

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