Co-Teaching (and some feels)

Saturday, June 6, 2015
Let's face it ... I had some training on co-teaching while I was in school/ during field work. However, I was trained mostly for high school, in the most restrictive setting.

This is probably the most personal I'll get ... and that's with my experience. I'm in no way an expert on co-teaching. If you want an experienced veteran, drop by Julia Snider's blog! She was my Inclusion Facilitator/ Coach during my first year of teaching.

What I know is ...

  • It's a marriage. You really have to know your co-teacher in and out. I've been in a classroom where I only skimmed the surface (i.e. they have hair, two arms, a husband/partner/wife) and it was the most awkward experience of my life. Even though I talked to the kids, got to know them outside of that class time, tried to do a lot of background stuff for those teacher (anchor charts, helping select materials), I didn't know the teacher. I wasn't comfortable. I didn't like being there. I felt more like a visitor than a teacher. Even when I tried step out and speak more, I felt shut down. We didn't know each other, therefore we couldn't sync up. Not my kind of marriage.
  • Trust. Both co-teachers need to trust one another ... and by trust I mean, I need to know that you'd tell me from the get go if something is wrong. I have an amazing relationship with another co-teacher who tells me straight up what is wrong. In our own words, "we don't do that 'It's okay' nonsense" when it's not okay. We don't hold grudges. I tell her immediately that I am upset with her because she didn't hand me a test in advance to modify and she tells me when she feels like she needs more support in the room. We have never gone behind each others backs and everything stays "in the house."
  • "Our kids, not your/my kids." I absolutely hate it when adults feel that it's okay to separate the kids. We are all their teachers. We share the same responsibility to teach them, everyday. 
  • We are equals. Our responsibilities may look different, but that doesn't mean that one person has more/ less work. Especially for the middle school, where the Learning Specialist follows the student - I am spread thin (I co-plan with 4 other teachers, I am modifying and accommodating for 4 different curricula, I am not teaching the same thing every period). I will not be in the room with you all day. We are here for the student, not because your ideal picture of inclusion/co-teaching is having another body to help you control the kids/ step out when you want/ etc. In addition, we are co-teachers. I should not be labelled the co-teacher and you, the teacher. We are equals. We are both co-teachers. That's some tough language/ feelings, but that's just me.
  • I am not a substitute. This is primarily an issue I had from the get go. I am a middle school learning specialist, I do not stay in the same room all day. I would never expect/want you to be pulled from your room to substitute for another teacher. So please give me the same courtesy. Yes, you're absent. Yes, I'm in the there for the hour. No, I will not stop going to my other classes because you're more comfortable with me in the room instead of the substitute. 
At the end of the day, we're in a this together. I know someone down the line has made you jaded. This is the here and now. I'm a completely different person.

I'm pretty sure someone I dated said all of this, but it works for co-teaching too!


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