What is Co-Teaching?



I began co-teaching over 20 years ago and at the time did not know there was a name for it or how to do it well. From experiences in the classroom and working with hundreds of teachers over the past several years we have come to a definition that guides us as we continue to grow as co-teachers.

Co-teaching is an inclusive service-delivery option for students with disabilities in which one certified special educator and one certified general educator provide instruction to a blended group of heterogeneous students.

Classroom instruction is significantly different with two certified teachers:

  • Both teachers actively teach throughout the lesson.
  • Units and lesson are co-planned.
  • Classroom instruction is delivered through co-teaching approaches, with a focus on small group instruction.
  • Classroom instruction is differentiated through accommodations and modifications, specialized instruction, or universal design for learning.
  • The co-teaching relationship is a partnership.

Significantly different…instruction is different because there are two teachers in the classroom. This is key! Students have opportunities to get what they need because we are providing instruction and learning opportunities that are well planned and meaningful for all learners.

Benefits of Co-Teaching



When we first began co-teaching many questioned the benefits of co-teaching. We found ourselves sharing research and our own personal experiences to provide evidence to benefits for children. Today, teachers share these benefits with us. You can still find research to support co-teaching, but first hand accounts of teachers in the classroom every day is powerful! The following are examples of benefits we have seen and also that teachers have shared with us.

For Students with Disabilities . . .

  • Increased participation in general education classrooms
  • Higher achievement and test scores
  • Better social skills
  • Higher self-esteem
  • Less behavior problems
  • Reduced curriculum fragmentation and “missed” activities
  • Higher teacher expectations

For Students without Disabilities . . .

  • Exposure to a wider range of instructional alternatives
  • Additional help for other students who need assistance
  • Greater acceptance of human differences
  • Better understanding of the similarities among students
  • Academic performance is equal or improved

We would love to hear from you, what benefits have you seen in your classroom?