Co-Teachers: 3 Keys to Boost Summer Learning

A MiddleWeb Blog

As this school year comes to a close for more schools around the nation, the time for rejuvenation and reflection begins to pick up a bit of steam.

Summer break allows for an energy transfer – from our dizzying and at times breathless day-in, day-out schedule into a more leisurely time flow. But great teachers know…there is great work ahead!

Summertime gives us some space to linger in reflection, build anticipation, and begin to move into active preparation for the school year to come.

This year, my role as a consultant and instructional coach has provided more insights into how the “best of the best” co-teachers prepare for an even better experience for students (and teachers!) from one year to the next.

For purposes of this post, I’ve arranged my 2017-18 reflections into three key points to ponder as co-teachers consider how they might improve their practice in the upcoming school year. Co-teachers, we can do this!

  1. Stay grounded and open-minded (personal and professional gains here!)
  2. Manage in co-teaching style (hit the ground running for a smooth flowing year!)
  3. Design to dazzle (and empower!)

Stay grounded and open-minded

For starters, embrace whatever co-teaching assignment and partnership comes your way for next year. Re-channel and/or revive thoughts and ideas into empowering actions. You have this power! Take a few minutes to read one of my all time favorite stories from my own practice (thank you, Brookes Publishing!) and take a deeper look at co-teaching success. Do you have doubts you could make this happen? I don’t! But if you feel under or overwhelmed…well, you’re not alone…just add a comment below—and let’s get a dialogue going!

Make time to relax and rejuvenate this summer. Personal wellness is a critical component—so take care of YOU. Below are links to resources that could guide you as you seek to refresh, restore, and just…BE.

Make time to relax and read Teach, Breathe, Learn by Meena Srinivasan (watch the trailer above!). Also visit Meena’s website to extend your potentially transformative steps ahead.

For more ideas on rejuvenating, check out Education Week Teacher to find out 3 Things You Can Do This Summer To Be A Better Teacher In The Fall. In addition to any beach reads you have planned, check out ASCD’s Summer Reading List to boost your instructional know how!

Manage in co-teaching style

Review some general ideas for how to put effective classroom management routines in place for a smooth-flowing learning process. William & Mary School of Education is a great place to start. Click here to read “Co-Teaching: Planning for Instructional Classroom Management.” Remember to make the most out of having two teachers—with varying expertise. And don’t forget to make your students feel and be part of the process of co-creating your new learning community.

Consider the ways you may apply Flexible Seating and Student-Centered Classroom Redesign (Edutopia) for many ideas that will spark co-thinking as you plan ahead.

Design to dazzle and spark!

Let’s begin to build anticipation and the move into active preparation with some brief, high-impact resources. Check out the PDF UDL and the Learning Brain (CAST). It’s a quick read with endless possibilities.

Become spot on with the language, so you can design the most effective instruction possible. Know when to scaffold, accommodate, and/or apply a modification. There is a huge difference among the three. Check out this link to let it all sink in…in order to design learning that maintains high expectations for all learners. Knowing the difference means all the difference between enabling and empowering!

Consider embedding plenty of opportunities for students to engage through well-designed co-teaching. Check out this archived post of mine: Captivating Co-Teaching: Engagement & Feedback

Plan for the ways you will invite your students to take charge of their learning. Remember, we are not teaching for the moments, the weeks, or any one particular class—we are teaching students to know how to learn for a long, long time to come.

One final gem of an idea for all teachers and co-teachers out there

Getting Students to Take Responsibility for Learning. Yes, it’s true…this article was originally written to support teaching in higher education. It talks about guiding students to get in the groove of becoming self-regulated, resourceful learners. But here’s a thought…what if every K-12 educator read and adapted these ideas into their own classrooms, working with their students to design instruction that truly prepares each learner to know how to learn…just THINK of the possible results!

This could cause quite the domino effect—don’t you think?! Consider for a moment: how solid would the foundations for each learner’s skill set be as they move along their lifelong learning journeys? So…go on… grab your domino pieces and become part of an empowering process. Let the dominoes tilt, click, and tap, folks! Our kids depend on us to guide them for the long haul.

Here’s hoping that the pacing of summertime allows your thoughts to linger on the year past, and as you reflect, here’s hoping you feel a growing urge to plan for awesome co-teaching in the school year to come. Consider stopping by to leave a comment below—let’s keep our collaborations flowing during the summer months.

Enjoy, everyone!

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Find more in Elizabeth Stein’s recent book, Two Teachers in the Room: Strategies for Co-Teaching Success from the Routledge/MiddleWeb partnership. MiddleWeb readers receive a 20% discount at Routledge with the code MWEB1.

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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