Plan Now to Accentuate the “Co” in Co-Teaching

2-teachers-nobordr-210For many around the nation, summer vacation has begun. And even if you’re in the final weeks of this school year (like me!), we feel the winding down of the gears and can make time for a few deep, rejuvenating breaths of reflection and anticipation.

Regardless of summer plans, we co-teachers know our work continues well into the summer months. Here’s a thought…why not make this the summer where you hone your co-teaching skills by accentuating the “CO-” in co-teaching!

We can begin by becoming empowered by mindfully embracing the definition of the prefix:

definition-co

If you say the definitions and examples out loud – slowly – clearly – you will be drawn in. Do you feel it? The power of co-teaching is upon us by simply reviewing the significance of this latin prefix meaning: “joint—mutual—common” … forming words like co-equal and co-produce.

Makes you stand a little taller, doesn’t it? That’s right – we are each a part of a joint, mutual experience – so make sure you do your part!

Last summer I invited you to Take the Co-Teaching Summertime Challenge! The launch of summer vacation is the time to begin to pave the way for our successful co-teaching selves in the coming school year. Our goal is to…

Co-Create Optimistic Outcomes

  1. Teacher illustrations series. 1) History teacher teaching a class in a classroom. 2) History teacheMake opportunities not excuses.Yeah, yeah, we all know how ideal it would be if all co-teachers embarked on this journey in a voluntary manner. And better yet, how perfect life would be if successful co-teaching pairings could stay together year after year to create that consistent flow that maximizes learning.
    But that is an ideal. We must embrace the necessity of changing teams as yet another opportunity to advocate for our role as a co-teacher. When we focus on the CO-, we can find the opportunities to make any pairing work—to the best of our co-abilities. So channel your energy in positive directions. Create open communication routines, reach out to colleagues, administrators, and online sources (like this blog!) to strengthen and stay CO-focused!
  1. CO-advocate: A few weeks ago, I wrote about the necessity for co-teachers to encourage partnership. Each co-teacher must advocate for his or her role as an educator—AND ALSO…embrace the role of your co-teacher. Optimize the strengths and talents that you EACH hold.Remember we are learners, too. And this learning for us includes learning about each other—and letting the relationship develop into the best version of your unique co-teaching team.
  1. CO-Teach!: Once the relationship side of our co-teaching is on solid ground, the co-teaching aspects fall into place with ease. It is just a matter of each co-teacher advocating for his or her role AND valuing one another’s perspective. Remember that to co-teach is to make it all about the students. Keep the learners at the center of your instructional decisions. Remember when it comes to doing what is right for students, there is no room for co-teaching drama. No exceptions!

Reflect and Plan

Teacher illustrations series. 1) Biology teacher examining a skeleton. 2) Biology teacher teaching aThroughout the summer, look through the archives of this blog – the topics will guide you to set your co-teaching up on a clear, smooth path of learning and collaborating.

For starters: Co-Teaching: Looking Back & Planning Forward can get you and your co-teacher in the reflecting and planning mode. You will find some tips for how to introduce yourselves to your students – along with remembering to amplify learning with co-teaching power. And check out these two posts as we consider what is at the core to successful co-teaching: New Year: Co-Teacher Harmony and Co-Teaching Harmony: Part 2.

By keeping our students at the center of the learning and embracing our part in this co-teaching team, we can co-create, co-produce, and co-teach with focus and care as we empower every learner in the room – co-teachers included!

What is your role as a co-teacher? How will you advocate for your role—while valuing and co-creating space for the role of your co-teacher? What will you do to keep learners at the center of it all?

Elizabeth Stein

Elizabeth Stein has more than 20 years teaching experience spanning grades K-8, specializing in universal design for learning and special education. She’s currently a special education/UDL instructional coach and new-teacher mentor in Long Island NY’s Smithtown Central School District. Elizabeth is National Board Certified in Literacy, and a contributor to Education Week and other publications. Her books include Comprehension Lessons for RTI (Grades 3-5) (Scholastic, 2013), Elevating Co-Teaching Through UDL (CAST, 2016) and Two Teachers in the Room: Strategies for Co-Teaching Success (Routledge, 2017). Follow her on Twitter @elizabethlstein and #coteachat

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