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Title: Co-Teaching A Literature Review Saskatchewan Ministry of

  • A Literature Review
  • Saskatchewan Ministry of Education

  • Part 1 What is Co-Teaching?
  • Part 2 Rationale for Co-Teaching
  • Part 3 The Evidence
  • Part 4 The Challenges
  • Part 5 Implementation Considerations

  • Part 1
  • What is Co-Teaching?

What is Co-Teaching?
  • Co-teaching is defined as
  • two or more professionals delivering substantive
    instruction to a diverse or blended group of
    students in a single physical space.
  • Cook Friend, in Murawski Swanson, 2001, p. 258

What is Co-Teaching?
  • Involves two or more professionals, typically a
    general educator and a special educator
  • Instruction within the same physical space
  • A sharing of teaching responsibilities
  • Instruction provided to a heterogeneous group of

What is Co-Teaching?
  • A service delivery model that is based on the
    philosophy of inclusion and supports
    collaborative practice among professionals.

  • Educators must pull together by sharing their
    work through collaboration too much knowledge
    and too many skills are needed for any single
    professional to keep up with and master all of
  • Friend Pope, 2005, p. 59

  • Co-teaching provides a vehicle for school
    communities to move from feelings of isolation to
    feelings of community and collaboration. Another
    way of saying this is that the lone arranger
    model of teaching is replaced with a co-teaching
  • Villa, Thousand, Nevin, 2004, xv

Co-Teaching Approaches
Supportive Teaching One teacher leads and the other observes or offers assistance
Parallel Teaching Teachers work with groups and present the same information.
Complementary Teaching A teacher enhances the instruction provided by the other teacher (i.e., mini lesson)
Team Teaching Both teachers share the planning and the instruction in a coordinated fashion.
What is Co-Teaching?
  • Coteaching arrangements are one promising
    option for meeting the learning needs of the many
    students who once spent a large part of the
    school day with special educators in separate
  • Friend, 2007, p. 48

  • Part 2
  • Rationale for Co-Teaching

Rationale for Co-Teaching
  • It promotes principles of inclusion and
    collaborative practice among teachers
  • It provides a number of benefits for students,
    teachers, and organizations

Benefits for Students
  • Access to general education curriculum and
    classroom teacher
  • Minimizes instructional fragmentation
  • Reduces social stigma associated with the
    pull-out model
  • Positive effects on self-esteem
  • Enhances academic performance
  • Stronger peer relationships
  • Increases individualized instruction

Benefits for Teachers
  • Opportunity for professional growth
  • Increases job satisfaction
  • Sharing of knowledge, skills, and resources
  • Reduces student-teacher ratio
  • Special educators increase their understanding of
    general education curriculum and classroom
  • General educators increase their ability to
    adapt/modify lessons
  • Improves communication between special and
    general education teachers

Benefits for Organizations
  • Promotes and sustains inclusive practices
  • Enhances sense of community within general
    education classrooms
  • Fewer referrals for special education services
  • Parent satisfaction
  • Staff more united

  • Part 3
  • The Evidence

Quantitative Data
  • There is very little quantitative data regarding
    the effects of co-teaching.
  • Most frequently cited quantitative research is
    the meta-analysis conducted by Murawski
    Swanson (2001). Their review resulted in six
    studies with sufficient quantitative information
    to calculate an effect size.

Effect Size
  • We use the concept of effect size to describe
    the magnitude of gains from any given change in
    educational practice and thus to predict what we
    can hope to accomplish by using that practice.
  • Joyce, Weil, Calhoun, 2004, p. 402
  • 0.08 and above large effect size estimate
  • 0.50 moderate effect size estimate
  • 0.20 and less a small effect size estimate

Murawski Swansons Results
  • The six studies revealed an average total effect
    size of 0.40 for the co-teaching approach
  • An average effect size for reading and language
    arts of 1.59 (three/six studies)
  • An average effect size for mathematics of 0.45
    (three/six studies)
  • An average effect size for social outcomes of
    0.08 (one/six studies)

Murawski Swansons Review
  • All six studies occurred in the 90s (1991-1998)
  • All but one study occurred over one academic year
  • The sample sizes varied from 59 to 706
  • The studies included different grade levels i.e.,
    K-3, 3-6, and 9-12
  • The studies focused on different outcomes from
    academic achievement to social benefits

Murawski Swansons Conclusion
  • The limited data suggest that co-teaching can
    have a positive impact on student achievement.

Contrary Research Perspectives
  • Co-teaching often times involves teachers not
    working with one kid for sustained periods in a
    sustained manner but working with kids
    fleetingly in the back of the room or with groups
    of kids. Many kids need individualized
  • Fuchs in Lawton, 1999, p. 4

Concluding Remark
  • While many authors support the use of
    co-teaching as a promising option for meeting the
    needs of students with disabilities, they also
    agree that more experimental and quantitative
    research is required to fully substantiate
    co-teaching as an effective option.

  • Part 4
  • The Challenges

Common Challenges
  • Finding common planning time
  • Providing administrative support
  • Need for ongoing training
  • Relationship factors
  • Special education teachers restricted to teaching
    in only a few general education classrooms

  • Part 5
  • Implementation Considerations

Implementation Considerations
  • The teaching partnership
  • Pre-planning
  • Selecting scheduling teachers
  • Selecting scheduling students
  • Co-teaching approaches
  • Professional development
  • Common planning time
  • Assessment
  • Administrative support

The Teaching Partnership
  • Partners much establish trust, develop and work
    on communication, share the chores, celebrate,
    work together creatively to overcome the
    inevitable challenges and problems, and
    anticipate conflict and handle it in a
    constructive way.
  • Villa, Thousand, Nevin, 2004, p. 3

Building and Maintaining Positive Relationships
  • Trust and respect
  • Commitment to team goals
  • Effective interpersonal, collaborative, and
    conflict resolution skills
  • Understanding of self and partner
  • Continuous investment of time

Stages to Co-Teaching
  • Beginning Stage
  • Compromising Stage
  • Collaborative Stage

Obstacles that Impede Teamwork
  • Low self-esteem
  • Burnout
  • Fear of conflict
  • Dealing with anger poorly
  • Lack of shared vision
  • Self-righteousness
  • Poor communication

Roles and Responsibilities
  • The biggest challenge for educators is in
    deciding to share the role that has traditionally
    been individual to share the goals, decisions,
    classroom instruction, responsibility for
    students, assessment of student learning, problem
    solving, and classroom management. The teachers
    must begin to think of it as our class.
  • Ripley, in Cramer, 2006, p. 13

Pre-Planning Eight Components
  • Interpersonal communication
  • Physical arrangement
  • Familiarity with the curriculum
  • Curriculum goals and modifications
  • Instructional planning
  • Instructional presentation
  • Classroom management
  • Assessment

Selecting Teachers
  • Issue Volunteer for co-teaching versus
    assigned to co-teaching
  • Administrators need to understand that a
    teachers initial reluctance to co-teach is not
    necessarily a permanent barrier to implementing
    co-teaching or any other innovation. McLaughlin
    (1991) found that teacher commitment to an
    innovation (e.g., co-teaching) only comes after
    teachers have acquired initial competence in the
    new skills necessary to implement the
  • Villa, Thousand, Nevin, 2004, p. 122

Scheduling Teachers
  • Issue Special education teacher not able to
    co-teach in every general education classroom
  • A number of authors suggest that the special
    educator limit their co-teaching to one or two
    classrooms per year.

Selecting Students
  • One size does not fit all. Although
    co-teaching seems to be a promising practice,
    this does not mean that every student can have
    his/her educational needs met this way.
  • Kohler-Evans, 2006, p. 3

Selecting Students Possible Criteria
  • Can the goals of the IEP be met within the
    general education class?
  • Will inclusion in the general education class be
    motivating for the student?
  • Is the student likely to benefit from the
    instruction provided by two teachers?
  • Will the students learning be enhanced by
    attending a co-taught general education class?
  • What effect will the students presence have on
    the rest of the students in the class?

Scheduling Students
  • Co-teaching can be used with any grade level -
    preschool to high school.
  • Co-teaching can be used with any subject area,
    although the literature refers most often to
    language arts and mathematics.

Common Planning Time
  • Schedule co-teachers prep time together
  • Provide substitute coverage a few times during
    the year
  • Use school-wide activity days
  • Plan before and after school
  • Combine two classes and release teacher
  • Release teachers from some committee
  • Administration cover classes from time to time

  • The real issue is not just about adding or
    manipulating time, but changing the fundamental
    way that teachers do business when they do sit
    down face-to-face to plan.
  • Villa, Thousand, Nevin, 2004, p. 80

Professional Development
  • An understanding of co-teaching
  • Development of interpersonal, collaborative, and
    conflict resolution skills
  • Instructional strategies
  • Knowledge and skills for differentiating
  • Characteristics of learners with different
    learning needs

  • Student assessment
  • Assessing the co-teaching relationship

Administrative Support
  • The findings of several studies involving
    collaborative activities share a theme that
    school administrators are highly influential in
    shaping the school culture and are often looked
    to as a source of leadership necessary to cause
    systemic change.
  • Sharpe Hawes, 2003, p. 3

Essential Elements to the Change Process
Common Vision Incentives Knowledge and Skills Resources Action Plan Result
No Yes Yes Yes Yes Confusion
Yes No Yes Yes Yes Resistance
Yes Yes No Yes Yes Anxiety
Yes Yes Yes No Yes Frustration
Yes Yes Yes Yes No Treadmill
Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Change
Adapted from Knosler, in Pearl, n.d.
Co-Teaching Resources
  • Books
  • A Guide to Co-Teaching Practical Tips for
    Facilitating Student Learning (Villa, Thousand,
    Nevin, 2004)
  • The Co-Teaching Manual (Basson McCoy, 2007)
  • Co-Teaching Lesson Planning Book (Dieker, 2007)
  • Guidebook for the Magiera-Simmons Quality
    Indicator Model of Co-Teaching (Magiera
    Simmons, 2005).

Co-Teaching Resources
  • Articles
  • Gately, S.E. Gately, F. J. (2001).
    Understanding coteaching components. Teaching
    Exceptional Children, 33(4), 40-47
  • Noonan, M. J., McCormick, L., Heck, (2003).
    The co-teacher relationship scale Applications
    for professional development. Education
    Training in Developmental Disabilities, 38(1),
  • Murawski, W. W. Swanson, H. L. (2001). A
    meta-analysis of co-teaching research Where is
    the data? Remedial and Special Education, 22(5),

Co-Teaching Resources
  • Videos/DVDs
  • The Power of 2 - M. Friend
  • Complexities of Collaboration - M. Friend
  • Collaborative Planning and Teaching - R. Villa
  • How to Co-Teach to Meet Diverse Student Needs -
  • Teacher Collaboration Opening the Door Between
    Classrooms - The Master Teacher

  • The practice of co-teaching has the potential
    to be a wonderful strategy for meeting the needs
    of all students. Working in partnership with
    another teacher, bouncing ideas off of one
    another, planning and orchestrating the perfect
    lesson, having two pair of eyes and four hands,
    creating something that is better than that which
    each partner brings what better way to teach?
  • Kohler-Evans, 2006, p. 3

  • If the goal is for all students to be fully
    included in the mainstream of school life, then
    co-teaching is a strategy that should be
    considered. Co-taught classrooms foster an
    atmosphere where diversity is accepted as having
    a positive impact on all students, where labels
    are avoided, and where everyone is thought of as
    a unique individual with gifts and needs.
  • Mitchell, 2005, p. 17