Issue Suggestion

Special educators have limited content specific
knowledge and are often asked to need mastery
in all content areas.
General educators have strong content specific
knowledge, but limited courses in learning
differences and accommodations.
Lack of common, productive planning time (to
discuss academic, behavioral, and logistical needs)
Recognize each other’s expertise and work
collaboratively to build upon those strengths.
Special educators need to build their content
General educators need to focus on more than
just content to meet the diverse learning needs.
Plan broadly and communicate about specific
student needs.
General education teaches shares content.
Special educator discusses content within the
framework of student needs.
Provide a flexible structure with class schedules
adapted to address co-teaching issues.
Consider block scheduling, but caution to do so
after research and with adequate teacher
Secondary School Structure:
-large class sizes
-large caseloads
-overwhelming paperwork
-collaboration with a wide variety of support staff
-wide range of learning needs
-class scheduling
-“closed- door syndrome”
-faculty often grouped by department
-special educators are on specialist teams
High-stakes testing
-teach more, better and faster
-all students included
-fast moving curriculum
-diverse learning needs
-written test as a measurement of proficiency
The Issue of Fairness
Increasing Diverse Popluation
Break free of autonomous teaching
Begin with the same access to general education
curriculum from kindergarten through high
Do not evaluate the effectiveness of co-teaching
on a single high-stakes test
“…the meaning of ’fair’ actually denotes giving
everyone what they need to learn, and that not
every child learns in the same way”(Levine, 2002)
Model this philosophy to students, colleagues,
and parents
Develop a climate that embraces different
learning needs
Embrace different cultures, languages, and
Address diverse learning and cultural differences
Work with the special educator on meeting
diverse learning needs of the population
Adapted from : Dieker, L.A. & Murawski, W. W. (2003). Co-Teaching at the Secondary Level: Unique
Issues, Current Trends, and Suggestions for Success. The High School Journal, 84(4), 1-13.
Strategies for Success:
Provide time prior to co-teaching to discuss curriculum and student needs
Consider proactive instructional accommodations
Determine how students will be assessed and evaluated
Consider the use of peer tutoring and cooperative learning
Participate in co-teaching courses
Expect to progress through the stages of co-teaching (forming, storming, and norming
[Norris, 1997])
Vary Co-Teaching Approaches (6 structures)
Increase communication between subject/content area teachers
Collaborate with no more than 2-3 co-teachers to build effective relationships and
content knowledge
Utilize the co-teachers to modify instruction, increase active learning, avoid lecture
format, and for classroom management techniques
Ensure that co-teachers have common planning time for co-planning, co-assessing, and
developing the co-teacher relationship.
Allow flexibility within the special educator’s schedule to meet the needs of students on
his/her caseload; consider using a trained paraprofessional to provide support alternate
the special educator
Create clusters or interdisciplinary families similar to a middle-school model
Have special educators divide their team by areas of expertise
Novice co-teachers start small
Consider innovative evaluations: portfolios, checklists, IEP grading, rubric grading,
alternative and curriculum-based assessments
Focus on self-advocacy and self-determination skills; meaningful transition planning and
Evaluate your own co-teaching impact: pre/post assessments, questionnaires, surveys,
curriculum-based assessments over time
Utilize the two co-teachers for differentiation, remediation, or gifted instruction
Foster culturally-responsive teaching; divide class by interest
Adapted from : Dieker, L.A. & Murawski, W. W. (2003). Co-Teaching at the Secondary Level: Unique
Issues, Current Trends, and Suggestions for Success. The High School Journal, 84(4), 1-13.