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Sunday / July 23

Co-Planning for Co-Teaching

Observe Together to Deepen Professional Learning

We all know lesson planning takes time and a lot of effort. Co-planning for co-teaching requires dedicated time and collaborative effort by two or more people. Whether co-planning with another educator or a student teacher, the co-planning process involves additional tasks not found in individual planning. Not only must co-teaching strategies be agreed upon, but also the roles and responsibilities for each participant must be considered. I am hoping the guidelines presented below will facilitate this ever-important task and help you keep track of all the details as you prepare for co-teaching.

Co-Planning Considerations

While the following ideas are appropriate for any ongoing series of meetings, you may want to discuss their importance when you first. Initially, co-planning often takes place as teachers are creating and building their professional relationships with one another. Considerations include:

  • Setting a regular time for planning where both or all participants can comfortably attend on time and give full attention.
  • Selecting a time and place where interruptions will be minimized.
  • Staying focused on the planning. (Otherwise, the time may easily become enjoyable and entertaining, rather than professionally productive.)
  • Respecting each person’s contributions. (Not only does each person brings strengths, but also listening to other points of view may lead to novel and constructive ideas.)

As a result, you will build and continue to develop a mutually satisfying relationship in which each person involved in the lesson is supported.

Preparing for Co-Planning

Before actually meeting with your co-teacher to co-plan, spend a few moments on your own anticipating the development of the first, or next lesson, in your curriculum. Collect relevant information to bring to the meeting. The following items may serve as relevant resources during your planning session and it will be helpful to have them readily accessible:

  • Content Standards
  • English Language Standards
  • Potential objectives in rough draft form with concepts, skills, and vocabulary included
  • Textbooks, supplementary materials, list of equipment, websites that might be useful
  • Accommodations and modification for your students with special needs
  • English language proficiency levels of your English learners
  • Examples of student work, if appropriate

Planning Objectives and Assessments

As you and your co-teacher(s) come together to begin the first steps in lesson planning,

ask yourselves, “What standards might be addressed in this lesson? Are the students ready for the lesson? What do students already know or what are they already able to do? How will progress be monitored? How will students demonstrate mastery of the standards?” The next tasks are to pinpoint specific objectives and corresponding assessments. Co-planners work collaboratively to:

  • Identify the specific Content Standards and English language standards that relate to the lesson.
  • Write clearly-stated objectives in the cognitive, affective, and psychomotor domains.
  • Identify essential vocabulary, key concepts, skills and use of technology.
  • Determine entry-level assessment, if needed, as well as progress monitoring and summative assessment as appropriate.
  • Ascertain which students will need adaptations or modifications and the types of adaptations and modifications needed for assessment.
  • Ascertain which English learners will need differentiated assessments based on their language development proficiency levels.
  • Decide on the roles and responsibilities for each co-teacher, such as who will conduct progress-monitoring during the lesson, who will write directions for assessments, who will create the grading rubrics or checklists, who will differentiate the assessments, and who will assess the learning.

Planning the Lesson Introduction

Prior to developing the Lesson Introduction, ask each other, “How might we immediately engage attention in a way that will intrigue student interest?” After brainstorming, together pick an activity that feels mutually comfortable and then address the following tasks:

  • Determine who will gain students’ attention (and how, if not pre-determined).
  • Decide who will be responsible for
    • Sharing and explaining objectives for the lesson.
    • Presenting the agenda to the class.
  • Choose opening questions/prompts/ anticipatory set/“hook” activity and who will present this portion of the Lesson Introduction.
  • Select resources, materials, and equipment to be used and who will gather them as well as put them away.
  • Establish how technology will be utilized, who will be using it, and how it will be acquired.
  • Decide what needs to be pre-written on the board or in presentation slide(s) and if visual aids and language support or other support will be constructive for specific students with learning needs and which teacher will take care of this task.
  • Identify what and how to review previous learning as well as who will be responsible.
  • Estimate length of time for Lesson Introduction.
  • Determine the means to transition students to a learning mindset and who will lead the students to begin the Lesson Body.

It might also serve you well to pre-determine who will:

  • Record and report attendance
  • Review, stamp, and collect homework
  • Implement other administrative procedures.

Planning the Lesson Body

Before delving into the body of your lesson, ask, “How will co-teaching improve student understanding and skill development? What student grouping(s) of students would be most useful? How might the room be arranged to facilitate learning? How will materials, resources, and equipment, including technology, be utilized?” By asking these questions, you’ll be able to:

  • Determine the specific co-teaching strategy/strategies to be implemented and the instructional method(s) to meet the lesson objectives.
  • Identify or create student activities that have students processing information and developing skills that have connections to students’ daily lives.
  • Select resources, materials and equipment to be gathered or created and determine which teacher will be responsible. Also, decide how these items will be distributed and collected during the lesson.
  • Establish how technology will be utilized, who will be using it, and how it will be acquired.
  • Decide what needs to be pre-written on board/in presentation slide(s) and who will be responsible.
  • Ascertain the adaptions and modifications to meet individual students’ learning needs and who will be responsible for preparing them.
  • Ascertain the language supports needed to meet the English learners’ language needs and who will be responsible for providing this support.
  • Identify the roles and responsibilities for each co-teacher.
  • Estimate the time for each activity, considering the students’ attention span and adjust, if needed, to allow time for a lesson closure.

Planning the Lesson Closure

In anticipating the lesson closure, ask, “What would be the best way to summarize the new learning? How might students review what was learned in a meaningful way?” While, typically, a short portion of the lesson, this section is essential for students to contextualize the lesson in a way that they will be able to remember it. Tasks are to:     

  • Create or choose a short closing activity which summarizes the learning (Again, include adaptations for students with learning needs or lower levels of English language development as appropriate.)
  • Select resources, materials, and equipment to be gathered or created.
  • Establish how technology will be utilized, who will be using it, and how it will be acquired, as appropriate.
  • Identify the roles and responsibilities for each co-teacher.
  • Determine which Co-Teacher will dismiss the class.

The Rewards of Co-Planning

Having a well-planned, purposeful lesson in which the planners have a vested interest sets the stage for effective lesson implementation. With a detailed lesson plan that includes the responsibilities and roles of each person, you will be able to gracefully implement Co-Teaching strategies. A quick review of the plan will let you know what you need to do to prepare ahead of time and the plan will serve as a guide on the day of the lesson. There will be clear communication between/among the co-teachers and with the students. May you co-teach with confidence as you and your fellow co-teacher(s) provide opportunities for student success!

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Written by

Ellen Kottler, Ed.S., taught at the secondary level for over 30 years in public and private schools, alternative schools, adult education programs, and universities. She worked in inner-city schools as well as in suburban and rural settings. She was a curriculum specialist in charge of secondary social studies and law-related education for one of the country’s largest school districts. Ellen is the author or coauthor of several books for educators. Her most recent books include Counseling Skills for TeachersStudents Who Drive You Crazy: Succeeding with Resistant, Unmotivated, and Otherwise Difficult Young People, and The Teacher’s Journey.

She is Lecturer Emeritus in Secondary Education at California State University, Fullerton.

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