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Collaboration Corner – May/June 2015

Dear T/TAC,

I am a fourth-grade general education co-teacher. My grade level is departmentalized, and I teach four social studies classes each day. I use the same lesson plan for every class. My special education co-teaching partner receives a copy of my lesson plan each week, but we do not have scheduled co-planning time. Since we are not collaboratively planning, we most frequently fall into the one teach, one assist co-teaching structure. We are frustrated because we know that we could better meet the needs of our students if we could plan instruction together. Do you have any suggestions?

Frustrated in S.S.

Dear Frustrated,

Thanks for a great question. Creating opportunities for co-planning is a concern that is shared by many teachers and administrators. Expectations for student achievement are high, and learning to navigate a new professional role requires planning. Of course you are frustrated!  You and other co-teaching partners can find ways to begin removing barriers to effective co-planning in Co-Teach: Building and Sustaining Effective Classroom Partnerships in Inclusive Schools (Friend, 2014). For example, Friend (2014) suggests using a three-part model for meaningful planning that includes the following components:

  1. Periodic face-to-face planning.  Try macro planning, an hour or longer every three to four weeks. You may be able to find the additional planning time by occasionally meeting before or after school, combining your class in another teacher’s room before or after your planning period to extend your time together, or using teacher work days.
  2. Electronic planning.  Complement your face-to face planning time by using wikis or another electronic platform for effective, quality collaboration.
  3. On-the–spot planning.  Take a few minutes to touch base during co-taught lessons. The special educator could suggest accommodations and offer ideas on the plan posted by the general educator.  Institute procedures for students to follow while you meet briefly to keep instruction on track.

Hopefully, these suggestions will point you in the right direction to turn some of your frustration with co-teaching into success.

Friend, M. (2014). Co-teach: building and sustaining effective classroom partnerships in inclusive Schools. Greensboro, NC: Marilyn Friend, Inc.

Available for loan from our T/TAC W&M Library:

Co-teach!: Building and Sustaining Effective Classroom Partnerships in Inclusive Schools 
Friend, Marilyn
Call Number: CC72

Co-Teaching and Co-Planning Considerations Packets

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