Co-Teacher Must Haves #1 (Sharing)

Tuesday, June 16, 2015
Previously, I spoke about my experiences with co-teaching. This is just an extension of it, and it'll probably sound like a personal ad, but there's no other way of addressing it. I have feelings!

Let's face it, there are some non-negotiables when it comes to co-teaching. One of them being sharing

Yes, sharing. As your co-teacher/learning specialist/partner in crime/I-know-I'm-awkward-but-you're-going-to-have-to-deal-with-it-and-love-me-for-who-I-am roomie, I really need you to share your thinking with me. What's the plan? What materials do we need? What can I help you make? What changes are we thinking of making? How are we both teaching today? Do you need help creating a rubric? When can we meet to discuss next week? Where did we leave off in the book yesterday? How are grades lookin'?

These things matter! Why? Because I'm not in the room all day with you and you can't keep me out of the loop. The moment you shun me, the children we are both responsible to educate (nurture, sternly talk to, sometimes gotta call mom/dad cause they're way off task) loses. 

To drop a metaphor in here: we're like the 1st generation iPod and iTunes (before wirelessly connecting was a thing). Sharing is the cord that connects us both together ... if we can't share, then that awesome N'SYNC album we wanted to play on repeat isn't going to happen. That's just depressing.

As co-teachers, we function best when we share. I should not walk into the room, not knowing what's going on. You should not be in the room and not know what modifications/ accommodations/ MTSS/ behavior strategies I'm implementing. It is so important that we are on the same page, that we both know what's going on, that we are in sync (see what I did there?), that we both created something, and that we are both accountable. 

The moment we stop sharing it becomes a me-you, he-she, my kids-your kids, or them-they situation, which by no means is the purpose of inclusion. We is the keyword. We made this together. We know the students strengths. We know why a child needs extended time on projects. We know why a student uses an iPad to write. We know that a test is going to happen Thursday. We know the objective for today. We met to plan lesson plans. We share access to Gradebook. We share.

As my first year of teaching at a fully inclusive school ends, here's what I've done to make sure I'm always sharing with my co-teacher:

  • Set-up a Google Drive, sharing everything with my co-teacher.
An example of a Google Drive folder I shared with the paraprofessional, my co-teacher, and my Inclusion Facilitator. 
Added bonus: modeling some extreme executive functioning skills.
  • Discuss the nitty-gritty of the IEP with co-teacher, include visuals to meet co-teachers needs.
My Inclusion Facilitator made this at the beginning of the year, and I've used it for so many different purposes!
  • Find a date to meet weekly and talk about plans.
    • I know there are inclusion specialists out there that really emphasize this. In my experience, I have an amazing co-teacher who can't see past 6th period. We speak at the end of each day about our plans for tomorrow and the day after, and I make sure I write it all out and email it to her as a reminder. This works for us both really well because we know the objectives, we know the end goal/theme, we just can't pre-plan a week in advance.
Here's an example of one of my lesson plans for ELA.
  • Email reminders for everything. CC'd on everything.
    • There are days when I send mass text messages. Whatever gets the job done. 
    • Share all the good and bad news - parent decided to email just you? CC your co-teacher in the response.
  • Explain everything I do and justify it.
    • Here's an example:
      Co-teacher 1: Do whatever you have to do for him, I trust you.
      Co-teacher 2: That's great. Seriously it is! But you gotta know what's going on, how are you going to teach this if you haven't looked at it? Just take a look dude, let me explain the flow!
  • Know about all the work assigned.
    • Is the work appropriate? Can the student do it? What will the modifications or accommodations look like? Did I explain all this to my co-teacher?
Honestly, all it takes is for someone to smash that idea that we're two teachers who happen to be in the room at the same time, and co-teaching really begins. I really push for that. I might not be confrontational about it, but I will blow up your email about grades/ hound you down at 7 AM, ask a whole bunch of questions about todays plans, and subtly bring up the fact that you didn't share your lesson plans with me/ sit in your room during lunchtime and talk to you about some ideas I had for Friday even though you clearly have put Pandora just a smidgeon louder than usual.

Best practice? Nope. Did it get the job done? YES. Did I ever nag again about it? Nope. SUCCESS.

**I clearly got the social cue; as a Learning Specialist, I am an advocate for that child. I can't advocate for them if I don't advocate for my role in the classroom!**

As always, I'm not a pro at inclusion. There's still so much for me to learn. Google Paula Kluth.


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