Co-Teaching: General and Special Educators Working Together

October 2011 | Links updated, January 2013
A legacy resource from NICHCY
A co-teaching pair of teachers.

Research shows that collaboration between general and special educators benefits the quality of instruction and supports for students with disabilities. Students without disabilities benefit, too. These are among the findings of a metasynthesis of co-teaching research conducted by Scruggs, Mastropieri, & McDuffie (2007) and summarized in Structured Abstract 81.

To help you co-teach effectively, we’ve developed this companion page of additional resources on co-teaching. We’ve grouped the resources below into these sections:

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Different Approaches to Co-Teaching

Want to know more about the approaches to co-teaching mentioned in our Research Summary? Try these resources, including videos!

Types of co-teaching, summarized.

See them demonstrated in this 5-minute video.

More videos.
View 5 short videos, which give examples of various co-teaching practices.

Effective co-teaching strategies.
Discusses the basics of each approach to co-teaching and compares and contrasts them: supportive coteaching, parallel teaching, complementary teaching, and team teaching. Also identifies challenges or cautions with each.

State-level approaches to co-teaching.
This 2009 Project Forum brief describes how state education agencies are supporting co-teaching in schools, including through policies and guidance and co-teaching initiatives.

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Short and Sweet Reads on Co-Teaching

Need more info quick and to the point? Here are a few resources to get you going.

6 steps to successful co-teaching.
From NEA.

Understanding co-teaching components.
An 8-page article about the 8 components of co-teaching. In TEACHING Exceptional Children, 33(4).

Is co-teaching effective?
Article from CEC.

Collaboration between general and special education: Making it work.

Collaboration: A must for teachers in inclusive educational settings.

Superintendent leadership: Promoting general and special education collaboration.
From Project Forum, this document examines the role of the superintendent in promoting, developing, and sustaining a culture of collaboration between general and special educators.

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Setting Up Shop Together: Tips and Strategies, Checklists, and Questions to Ask

We’ve gone through dozens of resources, and these are our favorites for framing those first steps you and your co-teacher take at setting up classroom operations.

Nuts and bolts of cooperative teaching.
This intro describes the basics of cooperative teaching, where and when it’s used, the research base as to its effectiveness and benefits, and case studies. It will also connect you with easy-to-use tools to promote your own collaborations with colleagues.

Tips and strategies for co-teaching at the secondary level.
Prepare to co-teach with (a) questions to ask yourself and others; (b) the SHARE checklist (sharing hopes, attitudes, responsibilities, and expectation); (c) and examples of teacher actions during co-teaching (if one of you is doing this, the other can be doing that). From a TEACHING Exceptional Children article by Wendy Murawski and Lisa Dieker.

Thorough guidance.
Here’s a great Powerpoint slideshow with lots of questions to ask yourselves, 5 “musts” for parity between co-teachers, checklists for co-teaching, classroom management, examples, and much more.

Instructional strategies for co-teaching & inclusion.
This document includes a co-teaching self-evaluation checklist, guidance on how to evaluate the effectiveness of co-teaching, tips for administrators for planning collaboration time between co-teachers, and co-teaching principles for principals.

Using co-planning time: Strategies for a successful co-teaching marriage.
A feature article published in TEACHING Exceptional Children Plus [Volume 5, Issue 4, March 2009].

More on co-planning.
This article in TEACHING Exceptional Children [Volume 33, Issue 4, 2001] is called “Building a strong BASE of support for all students through coplanning.”

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Professional Development Training Modules in Co-Teaching

Need training modules to launch a co-teaching initiative in your school—or just to inform yourself and your co-teacher? Here are several professional development training modules that will do just that.

Co-teaching: 3 academies.
This module introduces the many faces of co-teaching relationships, exemplars and non-exemplars of successful co-teaching strategies, approaches for developing co-teaching skills, and opportunities to co-plan lessons. Download facilitator guides, slideshows, and participant handouts, starting at:

Visit the IRIS Center.
You’ll find a diverse collection of training modules at IRIS, including these two on co-teaching:

Effective School Practices: Promoting Collaboration and Monitoring Student’s Academic Achievement |  This module focuses on the entire school population and highlights partnerships between general education and special education faculty that result in the creation of a ‘collective responsibility’ and shared high expectations for all students. (En español)

Serving Students with Visual Impairments: The Importance of Collaboration |  This module underscores the importance of the general education teacher’s collaborating with professionals and other individuals knowledgeable about the needs of students with visual disabilities.

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Blogs on Co-Teaching

Because no one knows like another teacher…

The Evidence Base on Co-Teaching: Are WE There Yet?

The Ins and Outs of Co-Teaching.

Reflections on This Past School Year

My Co-Teaching Comfort Level.

Co-Teaching: General Guidelines and Procedures.

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Resources from Your State Department of Education

Many states offer guidance materials on co-teaching or lead co-teaching initiatives (e.g., Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Maryland, New Mexico, New York, Texas, Virginia). So it’s a good idea to check with your state department of education to see what’s available in your area.

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