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.

Co-teaching is:

  • 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,

School personnel interested in additional information regarding co-teaching may contact:

Chuck Blevins

Lauren Catherwood-Ginn

Suzanne Graham

Additional Resources

Excellence in Co-Teaching Initiative

The goal of the Excellence in Co-Teaching Initiative is to provide a professional development model that promotes access to the general education curriculum for students with disabilities, recognizing effective co-teaching practices – especially in the areas of reading and math, and supporting teacher leaders.

Currently, twenty-three classrooms in twenty middle and high schools serve as co-teaching demonstration sites, nine of which are located in regions 6 and 7. These classrooms showcase the implementation of co-teaching by promoting a collaborative model – general and special education teachers share responsibility for the achievement of all students in the general education classroom through active co-planning, co-teaching, co-assessing with inclusive and research-based practices. The co-teaching partners in the demonstration sites will assist in enhancing current co-teaching practices of others by modeling effective practices in co-teaching during visits within their classrooms. General and special educator observers will have the opportunity to shadow their counterparts, observing the dynamics of the collaborative relationship during co-planning and co- taught classroom instruction, as well as other responsibilities of the teachers. Time to ask questions will be provided before and/or after observations. Opportunities for participating in a Distance Mentoring Program will also be available following a classroom visit.

Contact the TTAC at Radford University or Virginia Tech to determine which sites are open for visitation. Priority will be given to schools that did not meet their Annual Measurable Objectives for students with disabilities and/or divisions that are significantly below the target for Special Education Indicator 5: Least Restrictive Environment, as indicated in the Division’s Annual Performance Report. TTAC staff, in collaboration with the requesting school’s building level administration, will determine the professional development needs and service options available. If a site visit is determined to be an appropriate professional development activity for an individual school, the site visit will be coordinated and pre-scheduled by TTAC.

In addition, teachers who are unable to visit a demonstration site can learn about co-teaching online through the Real Co-Teachers of Virginia webshops. In addition to general information about co-teaching, the webshops include videos of demonstration site co-teachers as they co-plan, co-instruct and co-assess; SOL Enhanced Scope & Sequence Lesson Plans adapted for co-teaching; and a variety of resources. These webshops can be accessed through TTAC Online at Real Co-Teachers of Virginia.

Region 6 Demonstration Sites

  • Roanoke County: Northside Middle – Math 6
  • Roanoke County: Hidden Valley Middle – Math 6
  • Roanoke County: Hidden Valley Middle – Math 8
  • Roanoke County: Hidden Valley High – English 11
  • Franklin County: Benjamin Franklin Middle – English 7

Region 7 Demonstration Sites

  • Galax City: Galax Middle – English 7
  • Carroll County: Carroll County High – Algebra 1, Part 1 & 2
  • Tazewell County: Richlands Middle – Math 7
  • Wise County: Eastside High – Algebra 1

Contact TTAC at Radford University: 1-877- 544-1918 or TTAC at Virginia Tech: 1-800-848-2714 to schedule your team’s visit!