Have you ever watched cheerleaders at a football game doing stunts? They often have a flyer, the person up in the air, and two or three bases, the cheerleaders supporting or catching the flyer. For the flyer to perform to the best of her ability, she needs her bases working together to support her and keep her safe.
Now, imagine that the flyer is your student and that you and your co-teacher are the bases. Just as it is critical for the bases in a cheering squad to work together, it is critical for co-teachers to collaborate. It's not easy working with another teacher, yet it is important for your students to have the sturdiest support possible.
So to help you out, here are 12 surefire ways to co-teach successfully! We hope that these ideas come in handy and that you have an excellent rest of the year!
12 Surefire Ways to Co-Teach Successfully!
1. Introduce each other's roles in the classroom as equal but different. For example, the general education teacher is introduced as the content area specialist and the special education teacher is introduced as the learning strategies specialist. Other co-teaching teams choose to not identify role differences and simply introduce themselves as "the teachers" of the class.
2. Gain an understanding of personality styles. This knowledge can change your life as well as improve all your collaborative relationships. Co-teaching is like an arranged marriage. How you deal with your colleague's personality can make or break the relationship.
3. Plan daily lessons, activities, tests, assignments, etc. in collaboration with each other.
4. As much as possible, make sure the entire team is working together, including the teacher, co-teacher, paraprofessional, parents, and students.
5. Work with each other to effectively implement adaptations, modifications, and accommodations required by the IEP without reducing content.
6. Collaborate with each other to develop a discipline policy and determine the roles you will play when discipline is necessary.
7. Make sure both teacher and co-teacher work with all students on an individual and group basis.
8. Teach, and re-teach, specific learning skills to students that need them. Reinforce alternative learning techniques.
9. Prep time is minimal and precious, and is not always the same for both co-teachers. Therefore, share as much information beforehand as possible through your school's teacher mailboxes or email so your planning time can be used with maximum benefit.
10. Partner with colleges and universities to have students who are studying to be teachers present activities, provide demonstrations, review with games, and help with test prep to free up time for co-teachers to plan. Teachers will need to plan in the room because of liability issues; however it's a viable option when planning time is scarce.
11. Use email and Microsoft Word's "Insert Comments" and "Track Changes" (under "Tools") features to collaborate on accommodations and adaptations.
12. Be flexible, identify and focus on each co-teacher's strengths, adopt a "They are ALL my students" attitude, and consider the impact of personality, gender, and culture differences on your relationship with your co-teacher.