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Masters of Special Education with Academic Instruction Certification

Co-Teaching - Topic 43

What is it?

Traditionally co-teaching has been described as a model in which a special education teacher and a general education teacher teach together in a general education classroom during some portion if the school day to accommodate the needs of students with and without disabilities.  Various formats of the co-teaching model exist.  Friend and Cook (1992) describe the six “traditional” approaches as: one teach and one assist, one teach one observe, station teaching, parallel teaching, alternative teaching, and team teaching.  Within these approaches, either teacher can assume either role.  To be successful, co-teaching should be planned deliberately and implemented as a true collaborative effort.  Developing collaborative skills among co-teachers requires professional development and support from administrators.  More extensive research is needed to define co-teaching practices and to ensure fidelity of implementation.      

Why is it important?

Co-teaching, when done with fidelity can foster a community of professionals who are working together to improve student outcomes.  Co-teaching has enormous appeal and has been widely implemented in schools across the country.  While there is a gap in the research showing evidence of its actual effectiveness on learner outcomes, it is an area of great popularity and therefore should be examined further.


Friend, M., & Cook, L. (1992).  Interactions: Collaboration skills for school professionals.  New

York: Longman.

Zigmond, N. (2006).  Reading and writing in co-taught secondary school social studies classrooms: A

reality check.  Reading and Writing Quarterly, 22, 249-268.

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