8 Great Alternatives to Co-teaching Workshops
A MiddleWeb Blog
In my most recent post, I shared a professional development experience that can jazz up instructional decisions and guide co-teachers to make the most of instruction and learning as this school year comes to a close. This week, my guest contributor Anne Beninghof shares some of her own ideas about professional learning options. Anne, for those who don’t know, is a leading expert on inclusion and co-teaching success!
I hope you will feel inspired to try at least one new idea to extend your knowledge and to collaborate with your co-teacher(s) before the end of the year. And be sure to return to this post when you’re ready to plan your teacher-led PD for the coming school year. ~ Elizabeth Stein
8 Time Saving Ideas for Co-Teacher PD
It can be a challenge to find time for teachers to attend a workshop with their colleagues. A day out of the classroom means missed instruction, writing sub plans, and access to a budget that allows for substitute pay. Fortunately, workshops are not the only way to learn about co-teaching! Here are eight great alternatives that leaders can develop and provide to teachers who want to explore the topic of co-teaching.
Create a slideshow or video about co-teaching and make it available for teachers to explore from home. You might also consider using an interactive video tool such as eduCanon to embed questions in the middle of video clips. Here are a few slideshows that others have created and made available:
Self-Guided Video Viewing
Dozens of co-teaching videos exist on the internet. Be sure to preview each before making recommendations, as everyone interprets “good co-teaching” differently. Check out my YouTube channel to see a variety of co-teaching clips. Maryland Learning Links also has several videos on YouTube that demonstrate effective co-teaching.
Observing other co-teachers (in the building or in another district) is a fantastic way to reflect on what works and what doesn’t when two teachers are in the room. Ask colleagues for suggestions of classes to visit or tweet a request to your followers. Guided visits might work best for new co-teachers.
Consider designing an observation form with a few key “look fors,” so that teachers can take notes and then discuss their observations after their visit. Here’s an observational tool that can be used to gather data about a co-taught classroom.
► My book for grades K-12, Co-Teaching that Works: Structures and Strategies for Maximizing Student Learning, has separate chapters on the various models of co-teaching and how they can work with different specialists (e.g. chapters on co-teaching with an ELL specialist, a technology specialist, a special education teacher, and more.)
► Advancing Co-Teaching Practices: Strategies for Success by Sonya Heineman Kunkel examines co-teaching through eight different lenses, for beginners to experts, with ideas on how to move from one stage to the other.
► Collaborate Smart: Practical Strategies and Tools for Educators by Susan M. Hentz and Phyllis M. Jones suggests ways to improve teaming among educators, whether in co-teaching classrooms or other collaborative efforts. This quick read includes practical ideas for developing trust and for communicating effectively and efficiently with your partner.
Create a list of co-teaching websites for teachers to explore, or incorporate the sites into a tool such as Symbaloo. Here are a few suggestions:
Ideas for Educators
The Co-Teaching Connection from Marilyn Friend
Two Teachers in the Room, Elizabeth Stein’s blog at MiddleWeb
The Academy for Co-Teaching and Collaboration at St. Cloud State University
Webinar, Skype or Google Hangout
Talk with an expert or with other co-teachers. I frequently receive requests for a short interview through one of these tools and say “yes” as often as I can. So reach out to your favorite expert and ask! These can be very effective in short bursts – “microlearning” – so don’t feel the need for a 45-minute interview. Teachers will appreciate listening to a five or ten minute Q & A – and are more likely to attend if they know you’ve designed the experience to fit into their busy schedules!
Twitter Chat Group
On the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of the month at 8 pm U.S. Eastern Time, a group of educators interested in co-teaching gather for #coteachat, a hashtag group created by Elizabeth Stein (@ElizabethLStein) and co-moderated with Christie Flayhart (@FlayhartC) and Johnny Cataffo (@JMCataffo). This well-organized discussion forum provides an opportunity to ask questions, share ideas and resources, and connect with others who are committed to more effective co-teaching.
Idea of the Month
Several schools I consult with have found it very successful to send out a group email to co-teachers once a month that contains a great idea for the co-teaching classroom. This can be as easy as linking to a blog post, article or Pinterest board, or a write-up with photos from a district co-taught class. Let’s celebrate local success while also helping other professionals learn! Here’s a Pinterest site to get you started.
Research tells us that focused, long-term professional learning is most effective. By combining several of the above ideas, and maybe even a more traditional workshop or two, teachers can be fully prepared to be successful with co-teaching.
What type of professional learning activities does your district provide to co-teachers? Anything to add?
Anne M. Beninghof is an internationally recognized consultant and trainer. A former special educator and adjunct faculty member of the University of Hartford and the University of Colorado, she has trained teachers in 49 states and published seven books on inclusive practices, including SenseAble Strategies: Including Diverse Learners through Multisensory Strategies and Engage ALL Students through Differentiation, Turning Best Practices into Daily Practices.