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Co-Teaching. Improving Student Learning and Performance for Students with Disabilities. Co-Teaching: A Strategic Plan for Implementation. Michele Battin Christopher Gagliardo Paul Gilbert Joshua Gilevski Yvonne Ibarra

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co teaching


Improving Student Learning and Performance for Students with Disabilities

co teaching a strategic plan for implementation
Co-Teaching: A Strategic Plan for Implementation

Michele Battin

Christopher Gagliardo

Paul Gilbert

Joshua Gilevski

Yvonne Ibarra

Education, then, beyond all other devices of human origin, is the great equalizer of the conditions of men, the balance-wheel of the social machinery.

-Horace Mann

demographics the co teaching model is currently implemented in the 3 rd 4 th and 5 th grade classes
DemographicsThe co-teaching model is currently implemented in the 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade classes
  • Kindergarten (2 classes)
    • Class One
      • Teacher/student ratio = 1:21
      • Poverty level = .52
      • Low income count = 11 students
    • Class Two
      • Teacher/student ratio = 1:20
      • Poverty Level = .45
      • Low income count = 9 students
  • First Grade (2 classes)
    • Class one
      • Teacher/student ratio = 1:18
      • Poverty level = .67
      • Low income count = 12 students
    • Class Two
      • Teacher/student ratio = 1:18
      • Poverty level = .39
      • Low income count = 7 students
demographics cont
Demographics Cont.
  • Third Grade (2 classes)
    • Class One
      • Teacher/student ratio = 1:21
      • Poverty level = .48
      • Low income count = 10 students

This class does not use a co-teaching model.

    • Class Two
      • Teacher/aide/student ratio = 2:1:19
      • Poverty level = .63
      • Low income count = 12 students

This class uses a co-teaching model.

  • Second Grade (2 classes)
    • Class One
      • Teacher/student ratio = 1:19
      • Poverty level = .53
      • Low income count = 10 students
    • Class Two
      • Teacher/student ratio = 1:19
      • Poverty level = .53
      • Low income count = 10 students
demographics cont1
Demographics Cont.
  • Class Three
    • Teacher/aide/student ratio = 2:1:18
    • Poverty level = .72
    • Low income count = 13 students

This class uses a co-teaching model.

  • Fourth Grade (3 classes)
    • Class One
      • Teacher/student ratio = 1:21
      • Poverty level = .48
      • Low income count = 10 students
    • Class Two
      • Teacher/student ratio = 1:25
      • Poverty level = .40
      • Low income count = 10

These two classes do not use a co-teaching model.

demographics cont2
Demographics Cont.
  • Class Two
    • Teacher/aide/student ratio = 2:1:25
    • Poverty level = .40
    • Low income count = 16 students

This class uses the co-teaching model.

  • Fifth Grade (2 classes)
    • Class One
      • Teacher/student ratio = 1:25
      • Poverty level = .60
      • Low income count = 13 students

This class does not use the co-teaching model.

vision statement
Vision Statement

Special Education and General Education teachers will gain capacity to collaborate and have joint ownership and accountability for delivering instruction and assessment for the achievement and success of all students in the general education curriculum resulting in systemic and sustainable improvement.

Cook (2004)

mission statement
Mission Statement

[School name] is committed to enabling all students to reach or exceed their potential. As co-teaching professionals, we will create opportunities for all students to grow academically, emotionally, and socially. We continually strive to create an academic and physical environment that nurtures and enhances the growth and development of each student.

Cook (2004)

  • Method of delivering services to students with disabilities or other special needs as part of the school’s philosophy of inclusion
  • ALL students receive improved instruction
  • Instructional fragmentation is minimized
  • Reduces stigma often attached to students with disabilities
  • Provides a supportive learning environment

Cook (2004)

co teaching overview
Co-Teaching Overview

The No Child Left Behind Act and current reauthorization of federal special education legislature have brought added pressure for educators to ensure that all students meet higher standards. Because school reformers have set higher standards, teachers are responsible for ensuring that students with disabilities achieve the same success as other learners. There has been an increased emphasis placed on educating students with disabilities, and other special needs, in general education settings. Co-teaching is an educational option that meets the diverse challenges faced by educators.

Cook (2004)

definition of co teaching
Definition of Co-Teaching

Co-teaching consists of two or more educators or other certified staff who are contracted to share instructional responsibility for a single group of students in a classroom for specific content. The educators have mutual ownership and share joint accountability in the single classroom or workspace.

Cook (2004)

co teaching is not
Co-Teaching is NOT…
  • When one teacher teaches one subject and the other teaches a different subject
  • One teaches while the other prepares materials or corrects student work
  • One teaches while the other stands by idly watching
  • When one person’s ideas of what and how content should be taught prevails
  • Assigning an additional teacher to act as a tutor (2004)

benefits of co teaching
Benefits of Co-Teaching
  • Collaboration between general education and special education
  • Provides a wider range of instructional alternatives
  • Improved instructional practices increase students’ participation, engagement, and learning
  • Increased teacher-student ratio

Cook (2004)

  • District-wide/School-wide
    • Establish and articulate a shared vision for using co-teaching as a method of providing inclusive programming for students with disabilities (district-wide, school-wide, family, community)
    • Plan professional development for administrators and school-based staff
    • Establish clear goals and expectations
    • Establish clear roles and responsibilities
    • Establish effective methods of communication
    • Establish timeline for implementation
    • Establish procedures for monitoring and evaluation of co-teaching model
    • Establish procedures for measuring student outcomes and achievement
    • Establish a school-based instructional leadership team

Maryland State Department of Education (2011)

development cont
Development Cont.
    • Determine Readiness and Needs
      • District-wide/school-wide
      • Skills and knowledge of administrators, teachers, related service providers, and support staff
      • Resources (staffing, instructional, space, budget)
      • Scheduling and staffing assignments
      • Assess students’ strengths and needs to ensure appropriate placement in co-teaching classes
  • Co-Teaching Team
    • Commit to a vision of co-teaching as a method for delivering instruction to students with disabilities
    • Identify roles and responsibilities
    • Establish classroom procedures
    • Design lessons and assessment
    • Identify professional development needs
    • Plan collaboratively

Maryland State Department of Education (2011)

professional development
Professional Development
  • Initial and Ongoing
    • Administrators, principals, teachers and support staff participate in professional development
    • Research based related to using co-teaching as an instructional delivery model
    • Driven by professional development standards
    • Related to five approaches of co-teaching
    • Based on student characteristics and needs
    • Based on teacher characteristics and needs

Maryland State Department of Education (2011)

  • District-wide/School-wide
    • Provide collaborative planning time
    • Arrange schedules to accommodate co-planning and co-teaching
    • Class composition/Appropriate student grouping (proportion of students with disabilities per class, number of classes, types of disabilities)
    • Provide continued professional development based on teacher/student needs
    • Allocate necessary resources for instruction, progress monitoring and assessment

Maryland State Department of Education (2011)

implementation cont
Implementation Cont.
  • Co-Teaching Team
    • Participate in professional development
    • Choose appropriate approaches based on student needs
    • Plan and deliver co-taught lessons that provide access to general education curriculum inclusive of accommodations to meet student needs
    • Conduct progress monitoring and data collection
    • Communicate with parents

Maryland State Department of Education (2011)

monitoring evaluation
Monitoring & Evaluation
  • District-wide/School-wide
    • Review data to determine if co-teaching model is effective
    • Review data to determine if co-teaching model should be expanded
    • Ensure data is being used to improve instruction in co-taught classrooms
    • Assess impact of co-teaching on student achievement
    • Conduct classroom observations for fidelity
    • Evaluate effectiveness of professional development and plan for ongoing development
    • Identify strengths and weaknesses (planning time, scheduling, classroom composition, teaching teams)

Maryland State Department of Education (2011)

monitoring evaluation cont
Monitoring & Evaluation Cont.
  • Co-Teaching Team
    • Monitor student performance
    • Analyze data to assess student achievement and established outcomes
    • Determine if established lesson outcomes are being met
    • Determined needs for ongoing professional development
    • Identify and problem-solve barriers
    • Determine parity in planning and responsibilities
    • Make adjustments as needed
    • Communicate results

Maryland State Department of Education (2011)

co teaching responsibilities
Co-Teaching Responsibilities

Co-teaching team members must make decisions by utilizing a cooperative process. Interactions are important for co-teachers, as they must decide how often they need to meet and how much school time they will need to interact. Co-teachers should develop a communication system, such as a log book, when formal meetings are not scheduled.

Cook (2004)

c0 teaching responsibilities cont
C0-Teaching Responsibilities Cont.
  • Administrator
    • Provide the necessary training and professional development opportunities for co-teachers to successfully implement co-teaching model
    • Provide regularly scheduled meetings for co-teachers and assist with the development of timelines and priorities
    • Assign co-teachers who share similar educational philosophy and teaching style
    • Provide direct support to co-teachers, problem-solve day-to-day struggles
    • Be a proactive supporter of co-teaching

Cook (2004)

c0 teaching responsibilities cont1
C0-Teaching Responsibilities Cont.
  • General Education Teacher
    • Open communication
    • Responsible for instructional delivery as decided by both co-teachers
    • Equally responsible for the learning of all students to whom he/she is assigned
    • Must achieve a distribution of leadership functions and ensure all students are learning
    • Monitor the success of the co-teaching service of delivery and the achievement of the lesson’s learning goals
    • Individual accountability by acknowledging the importance of his/her individual actions and how those actions affect the success of the co-teaching model

Cook (2004)

co teaching responsibilities cont
Co-Teaching Responsibilities Cont.
  • Special Education Teacher
co teaching responsibilities cont1
Co-Teaching Responsibilities Cont.
  • Co-teachers must plan together. The following are topics for co-teachers to discuss:
    • Instructional content and teachers’ expectations for all students
    • Format of the instruction and planning, includes who will do which part of the planning and instructional delivery
    • How to create parity in the classroom
    • Organizing space for students and teachers
    • Instructional routines, division of teaching chores (grading, preparation, etc.)
    • Classroom management and discipline procedures
    • Safety issues for all students
    • Open communication, feedback process
    • Evaluation procedures, how student outcomes will be assessed
    • Personal issues that might affect teachers’ relationship in the classroom
    • Establish what the definition of “help” is in the classroom

Cook (2004)

co teaching responsibilities cont2
Co-Teaching Responsibilities Cont.
  • Both teachers must…
    • be responsible for planning, delivering and assessing instruction
    • identify and design accommodations and/or modifications for all students
    • manage behavior and intervene with appropriate interventions as needed
    • be familiar with various assessment procedures and formats
    • work together to design data collection procedures and to determine how data will be collected and analyzed
    • be involved in meetings and conferences related to students’ instructional programs
    • make a commitment to openly and regularly share information and to discuss issues related to the instructional programs for students in their class
    • advocate for all students

Louisiana Department of Education (2011)

co teaching approaches
Co-Teaching Approaches
  • One Teach, One Observe
    • One teacher observes and gathers data related to student engagement in the learning process during instruction.
    • Both teachers analyze data together to guide future instruction.
    • Use in new co-teaching situation, when questions arise about students, to check student progress, or to compare target students to others in class.
  • One Teach, One Drift
    • One teacher is responsible for teaching, the other circulates and assists students as needed.
    • Use when lesson is best delivered by one teacher, when one teacher has particular expertise, in new co-teaching situations, or when student work needs close monitoring.

Cook (2004)

co teaching approaches cont
Co-Teaching Approaches Cont.
  • Parallel Teaching
    • Both teachers are teaching the same information but class is divided and lesson is taught simultaneously.
    • Use when lower adult-student ratio is needed to improve instructional efficiency, to foster student participation, or when using drill practice, re-teaching, and test review.
  • Station Teaching
    • Teachers divide content and students, students rotate from one teacher to another and to an independent station.
    • Use when content is complex but not hierarchical, when lessons include review, or when several topics comprise instruction.

Cook (2004)

co teaching approaches cont1
Co-Teaching Approaches Cont.
  • Alternative Teaching
    • A small group of students works with one teacher, larger group works with the other.
    • A large group completes planned lesson, small group completes an alternative lesson or same lesson at a different level.
    • Use when students’ mastery of concepts taught varies, when high levels of mastery are expected for all students, when enrichment is desired, or when some students are working in a parallel curriculum.

Cook (2004)

co teaching approaches cont2
Co-Teaching Approaches Cont.
  • Team Teaching
    • Both teachers deliver same instruction at the same time.
    • Each teacher speaks freely during large-group instruction.
    • Instruction is a conversation, not turn-taking.
    • Use when two heads are better than one or experience is comparable, when instructional conversation is appropriate during lesson, when teachers have considerable experience, or when a goal of instruction is to demonstrate some type of interaction to students.

Cook (2004)


Benefits of co-teaching …

  • “The students benefit from two different teaching styles; multiple learning modalities are hit. I also think that you have a stronger curriculum because you have two experts teaching the same curriculum and the benefit of their knowledge together. Both teachers ‘hover’ on students that seem to need it most, especially students who are not ‘identified’ but are close.”
  • “There are two teachers with a similar number of students that a regular classroom has, if it’s handled properly.”
  • “Students who are not necessarily identified as special needs but have more needs than regular education students actually get the benefits that special needs students would get, and they get that extra support.”
testimonials cont
Testimonials Cont.
  • “Reduced stigma on special education students in a true co-teaching

model, not just as a consultant. As a consultant, kids don’t view you as

the teacher, they view you as a helper. Both classes move between

classrooms, it’s not just special education students, it’s both ways.”

Negatives of co-teaching…

  • “Lowest students who are identified don’t benefit as much as they would from small group instruction. The highest students are sometimes held back and expected to partner with children who have special needs.”
  • “Difficulties if you don’t choose who you co-teach with, because some teachers are really inflexible. Teachers are control freaks.”

Cook, L. (2004). Co-teaching: principles, practices, and pragmatics.

Retrieved from

Louisiana Department of Education. (2011). Louisiana’s co-teaching resource guide. Retrieved from

Maryland State Department of Education. (2011). Collaborative

development and implementation stages of the co-teaching frame-

work. Retrieved from assets/attachments/86/original_133-Using_State_Per_Dev-Inclusive_


What is co-teaching? (2004). Retrieved from