Skip to content

Co-Teaching Partnerships: Planning for a New School Year

The start of a new school year is a great time to implement new instructional practices and refresh old ones. Schools have been providing co-teaching as a service delivery model for students with disabilities for more than two decades (Friend, 2014). Each year, new co-teaching partnerships initiate and veteran teams renew their instructional plans and commitments to the purpose of co-teaching: to ensure academic progress for students with disabilities in the general education curriculum.

Critical components of co-teaching include a shared philosophy of inclusive education, a collaborative partnership, equivalent expertise and shared responsibility, communication, and administrative support (Friend, 2014). Co-planning provides a structure for enhancing these critical components and creates opportunities for co-teaching partners to …

  • develop the co-teaching relationship,
  • ensure teacher readiness to provide quality instruction to all students in the co-taught classroom,
  • consider how best to meet the needs of all learners,
  • identify roles and responsibilities, and
  • identify co-teaching approaches that best support the delivery of specially designed instruction and accomplish the instructional goals for students with disabilities.

Most important, however, quality co-planning facilitates the development of specially designed instruction for students with disabilities.

Whether you are beginning the new school year as a returning co-teaching partner or as a member of a new partnership, this edition of Link Lines will provide you with tips and tools for designing effective lessons, aligning instructional practices to ensure student learning, reflecting upon lessons, and providing feedback to one another. Start off your new or established relationship on the right foot! Share this edition with your co-teaching partner, reflect upon what you learn, and plan for how you will integrate these practices into your existing techniques this school year.

In Creating Synergy: Lesson Design in a Co-Taught Classroom, Christine Peterson and Lee Anne Sulzberger present ideas for effective lesson design that include the specially designed instruction that students with disabilities need to access the general curriculum. In the article Lesson Design for an Inclusive Classroom, Deborah Franklin, Charlene Grey, Catherine Gregory, Mary Stowe, and Heather Thompson share video examples of what a lesson design that includes specially designed instruction would look like in a co-taught classroom.

Cathy Buyrn explains how to align instructional activities to ensure students’ needs are met within a multi-tiered system of support in Aligning and Coordinating Instruction for Students with Disabilities Across Tiers. Finally, for more information on co-teaching and co-planning, read the T/TAC William and Mary Considerations Packets:


Friend, M. (2014). Co-teach? Building and sustaining effective classroom partnerships in inclusive schools (2nd ed.). Greensboro, NC: Author.