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The ultimate goal of co-teaching—as is the case with all service delivery mechanisms—is to meet the educational needs of your students. Co-teaching brings together a general education teacher and a special education teacher to share all aspects of teaching—planning, instruction and assessment—for an inclusive, heterogeneous group of students in a shared classroom environment. The TTAC at Radford University can provide you with resources and technical assistance to support co-teaching and inclusive instruction within your school.
- An equal partnership between two teachers—a general educator and a special educator—who have equivalent levels of professional licensure.
- A way to have students with disabilities participate—and succeed—in the general education curriculum.
- A tool for differentiating instruction for all students in the classroom, where both professionals are integral to the instructional process.
- A way to promote the use of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles for all students.
- A way to decrease student-to-teacher ratios across learning needs, styles and ability levels.
- A way to promote professional collegiality and mutual support between teachers.
- A way for teachers to learn from each other, and for students to gain knowledge from the expertise of two teachers both engaged in the instructional process.
- Planned thoughtfully and collaboratively by both teachers.
Co-teaching is not:
- One teacher—typically the general educator—acting as the main teacher with the special educator in the role of “helper.”
- The special educator only working with the students with disabilities.
- The general educator only working with the students without disabilities.
- Two teachers who take alternating turns teaching their students.
- Solely a way to help the students with disabilities.
- Planned at the last minute or improvised.
Every co-teaching relationship is different, based on the individual teachers, their mutual goals and their students’ needs. However, one of the primary benefits of co-teaching is that both teachers get to bring their unique skill-sets and experiences to the educational process for their students. In addition to their shared roles—planning, instruction and assessment—the specific individual roles of the two teachers may include:
|The general educator as the expert in:||The special educator as the expert in:|
|Learning strategies to address the diverse learning needs of students||Learning strategies to address the diverse learning needs of students|
|The district and state curriculum||Writing and monitoring IEP goals and obkectives for individualizing instruction|
|Developing the pacing and sequencing of content instruction to meet all general education goals||Case management and progress monitoring|
|Knowledge of the typical learner, social and behavioral characteristics for a large group of students at a grade level||Understanding the learning process that needs to be matched appropriately to learner characteristics|
|The academic content areas||Accommodations and modifications|
Good teachers have found that co-teaching can serve as an opportunity to become excellent teachers, who are more well-rounded and effective with all of their students. For example, co-teaching gives general educators the chance to learn about IEPs, students with disabilities and specific teaching strategies. Likewise, the special educator can learn more about the general education curriculum and classroom management. Co-teaching gives both teachers the chance to learn a lot more about collaborating successfully and sharing responsibility for student outcomes.
Adapted from: Maryland Learning Links, a product of the Johns Hopkins University, School of Education, Center for Technology in Education and the MSDE, Division of Special Education/Early Intervention Services, marylandlearninglinks.org/1006.
School personnel interested in additional information regarding co-teaching may contact:
Real Co-Teachers of Virginia: VDOE Excellence in Co-Teaching Initiative
In 2014, in an effort to promote and improve the implementation of co-teaching throughout Virginia, the Virginia Department of Education chose classrooms across the state that exemplify best practice in co-teaching to serve as demonstration sites, offering opportunities for others to observe model co-taught classrooms in action. These teachers also developed co-taught lesson plans and videos to share. In their videos, teachers showcase not only co-instructing in the classroom, but co-assessing and co-planning as well. A series of webshops showcase the products created by real co-teachers of Virginia. These webshops can be accessed through TTAC Online at Real Co-Teachers of Virginia.
Teachers and administrators are also encouraged to visit these demonstration sites. Contact the Training and Technical Assistance Center (TTAC) at Radford University or Virginia Tech to determine which sites are open for visitation.
Contact TTAC at Radford University: 1-877- 544-1918 or TTAC at Virginia Tech: 1-800-848-2714 to schedule your team’s visit!
Dr. Marilyn Friend's website dedicated to providing information and resources to educators and parents about co-teaching and helping them in problem solving to ensure student success.