Monday, December 5, 2016

5 Tips for Successful Co-Teaching

I have been lucky enough to have two amazing co-teaching experiences. Last year I had one of our Special Education teachers pushing into my classroom and this year I have one of our ELL teachers pushing into my classroom.  Although I have been happy with my own experience, I know that not everyone has been able to find that happy balance.  In this blog post I will be sharing some tips that may make it a little less challenging.  

Our ELL teacher leading our whole group lesson
This post contains affiliate links. I earn a small commission each time someone makes a purchase using one of my links, which helps to support the blog.  All opinions are my own and I only promote brands and products that I have used myself and truly love.    Co-teaching is defined as two teachers working together with groups of students; sharing the planning, organization, delivery, and assessment of instruction, as well as the physical space. (Bacharach, Heck & Dank, 2004).

If you are wondering how to make co-teaching effective or more effective in your classroom, here are a few tips:

1. Get to Know One Another - Before the students arrive, take some time to meet each other and establish a relationship with one another. I find it helpful to discuss educational philosophies and preferences for co-teaching.  You may also want to share personal information such as hobbies, interests, etc. to help establish a bond.

2. Establish A Co-Teaching Set of Norms and Routines. Discuss your beliefs about teaching practices and discipline ahead of time.  Decide together policies that will work with both of your styles.  I have always been more comfortable with hands on instruction using manipulatives, while both of my co-teachers have preferred to use worksheets as student evidence of learning. 

 We have managed to blend our styles through our lesson plans.  We have even added taking pictures of student work as an alternative evidence of learning.

You may want to check out these different models of co-teaching for ideas as well.

In order for the situation to be successful, both teachers must always be thinking, "We are both teaching!" (Bacharach, & Heck 2011).

3. Plan Together - It is so much easier to be on the same page when you plan your lessons together.  I have worked together with my co-teachers to look over the particular goals of students they service (IEP and ELL), and develop ways to meet those needs through our co-taught lessons.  We also include the needs of the class as a whole.  As we plan, we decide together if it would be best to teach a certain lesson whole group, or in small groups. We usually take turns presenting whole group lessons and each take a small group afterwards.

4. Be Consistent.  Students depend on a routine and a schedule.  If you deviate to often it can really throw them off behavior wise and academically.  We have a set time Monday - Thursday that my co-teacher comes in to the classroom.  If she is absent, she has a sub that covers her.  My students have gotten used to having her in our room, so they treat her the same way they do me.  They know that we are BOTH their teachers.

5. Take Risks and Grow. My favorite part of co-teaching has been my own teaching growth.  I have learned so many strategies for teaching from observing my co-teachers in practice!  I have also been able to modify my own instruction and validate successful practices through our reflections after lessons.

Have you had experience with co-teaching?  Good or Bad?  I would love to hear about it in the comments below!  


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  2. I'm in a co-teaching push-in position this year with both an ELL teacher and a SpEd teacher. I absolutely HATE it! Neither ever prepare for class expecting me to do it all. SpEd teacher spends her time hugging and coddling the children while I teach, grade, and assess. It's exhausting and frustrating. SpEd teacher is self absorbed and feels I'm incompetent as a teacher. ELL teacher stands by the doorway with a pencil in her hand for the whole hour and doesn't work with the children. She will walk around the room and yell at kids for getting up to swap pencils or get a tissue. Ugh! It's exhausting.


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