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How to Engage in an Effective Co-Teaching Situation

Collaboration can happen in the classroom.

Imagine this:

You are a special education teacher and you have to work with a teacher, who everyone has said, is a horrible co-teacher. You get nervous because you do not want to step on any toes in another person’s classroom. You walk in and see the teacher, smiling and she says “Hi!”

Or imagine you are a general education teacher, who has been told that you are going to have an inclusion teacher with you, whether you like it or not. You are frustrated because this is your classroom and your last few experiences have not gone well. So when the Special education teacher walks into the room, you take a deep breath and smile, and say “Hi!”

Have you ever felt either way? Co-Teaching/Collaboration is a tricky situation to be in the classroom for either the special education or general education teacher. Co-Teaching is similar to being in a marriage. At the beginning of the year, everything is rosy and could either end up in divorce by Winter Break, or the marriage could be working and getting stronger every day.

Collaboration and inclusion can be a great opportunity for all those involved which means more learning opportunities for the students and teachers.

What is Co-Teaching/Collaboration?

Co-teaching is when two or more educators share a classroom and provide instruction to a group of students. Collaboration takes effort and time but can provide more opportunities for growth, rather than causing difficulty.

What’s the benefit of this type of teaching?

Co-teaching allows the students to have two teachers in the classroom and be able to work with a variety of students. It really makes the classroom more fun for everyone, if completed correctly.

Imagine if a student clicks better with you than the other teacher and vice versa.

6 steps to making it a GREAT experience:

Rapport: You don’t have to be best friends but try to enjoy each other’s presence.

Teaching Style: Both identify your different teaching styles and use them to create your own style for the classroom.

Strengths and Weaknesses: Discuss each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Figure out how you can complement each other in the classroom.

Students with Special Accommodations: Talk about any students who have IEPs, ELL, or 504s and how to cover all their different needs.

Work Together: Come up with a plan of action for the entire school year, create a united front, and stick to it!

Take Risks: Think outside of the box when it comes to lessons and activities!! To be successful at all in the classroom… you have to talk with each other… and keep each other informed about what is happening with all the students in the classroom.

How can Google help in the Collaborative Classroom:

Google Calendar: Keep track of important events in the classroom.

Google Slides/Forms: Create Presentations, Forms, even Breakout Sessions.

Google Docs: Docs can be used to keep anecdotal notes on students and how the class is understanding an idea through the lessons.

Each teacher can have access to the students and can work with each group at different times and it can help differentiate in the Google Classroom. Using Google Classroom and sharing responsibilities for all of the kids make the loads lighter for everyone and gives the kids more resources to use throughout the school day.

Collaboration can be an awesome experience in the classroom for both staff and students!

Jessica Reed, Ed.S.

Social Media: Twitter @kygirlinalabama

Jessica Reed is a special education teacher in Georgia, who has been teaching for 12 years. Jessica’s undergraduate degree is in Elementary Education from the University of Kentucky. She has a Master of Arts in Collaborative Teaching (6-12) from the University of Alabama. She received her ED.S. in Instructional Technology from Kennesaw State University. Jessica is a certified Google for Education Trainer and a Google Innovator (#NYC19).

Jessica is married to Robby and they have one daughter, Elizabeth (3). Jessica is an avid UKY alumni who loves to present at conferences and make connections with teachers from all over the world to discuss how collaboration can be effective in the classroom.

Jessica is writing the Collaborative Prenup. The Collab prenup will be discussing how to effectively collaborating in the inclusion classroom and create an effective partner or marriage in the classroom.

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