A MiddleWeb Blog
This post is a call to action for all co-teachers! It’s an invitation to stay connected and continue learning through the summer months. It is an opportunity for us to actively participate in a Two Teachers in the Room learning experience throughout the summer. Are you ready?!
As more educators around the nation enter into summer vacation mode, let’s consider how summertime can be the perfect time to lead us into a successful year ahead.
I, personally, have two weeks left of this school year—which will bring me right into the amazing opportunity to train teachers for a summer resiliency program I coordinate in my district. My summer will be the perfect balance of continued collaborations with teachers, students, (and of course family, friends, and time for myself) and YOU!
Here’s the plan:
This post will share 4 frequently asked questions I receive from educators around the states. I will share a few of my insights—with the hope that you, too, will share yours. All you have to do is select one (or more) of the questions below—and share your insights, resources, links, or experiences to form our summer collaborative co-teaching experience! Exciting, right?!
OK, let’s do this!
Question #1: How can co-teachers create time to plan together in the midst of crazy busy schedules?
A1: First we must reframe our concept of time. Let’s face it—there will never be enough time—so why focus on it? Let’s use the time we DO have. Consider how technology can empower our co-planning abilities.
Here are some ideas:
- Embrace Asynchronous Planning: Go Google! Create a shared Google Doc or use an online planbook. Planning collaboratively online can really accelerate any limited face-to-face planning time—not to mention what it could do for in-the-moments instructional time!
- Share Lesson Plan Ideas with Colleagues: Check out Dr. Wendy Murawski’s support at 2 Teach, LLC for embracing the necessity of co-planning. She offers a great co-planning template along with the opportunity to share lesson plans in all subject areas, at both elementary and secondary levels, with teachers all over—a great leisure summer resource! Of course, as lessons are shared, co-teachers must adapt to the individual students in their class, but this sharing of ideas can ignite that process.
Question #2: How can co-teachers cultivate productive relationships?
A2: When teachers embrace the mantra All learning happens within relationships, they allow for more meaningful and enduring learning. Relationships create emotional connections and a sense of belonging that is necessary for long-lasting learning opportunities. Emotions play a vital role in all aspects of learning. Check out some research here.
Make time for a summer beach read with David Rose and this Education Week interview. As the summer weeks roll on, also check out this quick read about co-creating a positive co-teaching relationship to launch your year ahead. Here are some more ideas:
- Tag some time to check in with your co-teacher each day. This check-in time may be embedded within the instructional moments of the day—or it may be a few minutes outside of class time for a quick conversation to answer the question: how are WE doing?
- Develop a relationship with your students, too! Remember you are teaching individuals—not content area subjects. Make time to know your students—be compassionate and connected in ways that maximize the human relationship—not just the intellectual side of learning.
- Co-create a sense of community with your students, co-teacher, and parents.
- Invite your administrator in—just because!
- Embrace an all are welcome and a part of the process concept in this learning journey!
Question #3: What are some tips for delineating co-teaching roles?
A3: For starters, embrace the distinct difference between equal and equitable. Do not get caught in the trap of striving for equality by “sharing the responsibilities.” I know so many well-intentioned special education teachers who share in the teaching and grading practices—but this typically results in having two general education teachers in the room. And that is NOT good enough.
If both teachers are equal—and share the general education role—then where is the space for the required and critical addition of specially designed instruction (SDI)? SDI is a mandate that ensures that every student receives accessible and meaningful learning experiences.
It is every co-teacher’s responsibility to make sure SDI is a part of instructional time. The responsibility falls heavier on special education teachers to advocate for their role.
So create a checklist. What is the process for planning and implementing the lesson? What do specific students need? And what is the role of each teacher for specific lessons? Make sure that your equitable roles shine through!
Question #4: What is the process for selecting the best co-teaching models?
The process can be simple:
- Know your students
- Consider lesson goals
- Consider teacher strengths
- Step out of your comfort zone and implement a new way of teaching—with your co-teacher’s expertise to guide you.
And now…let our summer collaborations begin! Please select one or more of the questions above and share your insights and questions in the comment section below.
I’ll check in frequently to keep the conversation energized. My hope is that each co-teacher enters the new school year with an open-minded willingness to learn alongside co-teachers, students, administrators, and parents. We are all learners on a journey—and it is so much more powerful when we embrace the journey together!
Be sure to bookmark this page. I am looking forward to our collaborations…right here…throughout the summer!