10 Ways School Administrators Can Support  Co-Teaching

Texas students fell even further behind on reading during the Covid-19 pandemic, and a new state law requires schools to provide 30 hours of focused tutoring to any student who failed the STAAR exam. For these reasons and more, team-teaching and co-teaching for are more important than ever, and school leaders have a vital role to play. 

by Isaac van Wesep & Kate Howie

How can school administrators ensure their team-teaching initiatives succeed in getting students up to grade level proficiency? 

Extensive research by the Texas Education Agency, the Meadows Foundation, and the Texas Center for Reading and Language Arts produced this list of 10 ways school principals and other school leaders can support team-teaching and co-teaching as part of their report  "Coordinating for Reading Instruction: General Education and Special Education General Education and Special Education Working Together".*

We asked a Teacher, a district instructional superintendent, and a university professor of education to weigh in on this list and provide up-to-date examples and guidance. The result is below. We hope you find it useful!

10 Ways to Support Co-Teaching

Provide time for teachers to plan.

Schedule planning periods so co-Teachers can work together to review the lesson plan, divide responsibilities, and review students’ progress.  If possible, periodically hold structured meetings where Teacher teams can speak with each other to share challenges and successes. 

Provide professional development opportunities for teachers to learn about co-teaching, collaboration, and conflict resolution.  

Ron Farrow, Assistant Superintendent of Instruction in DeSoto, MO, says “Providing teachers with clear expectations, and modeled training is crucial.  Teachers may need training on how to effectively support one another in a co-taught classroom, and effectively divide their support to support all students.” One veteran Teacher we interviewed said “I find that this is lacking in MANY places. This is the “make it happen” mentality without providing the tools needed for teachers to be successful.” 

Make resources (e.g., personnel, materials) available to help teachers individualize instruction and address students’ needs. 

All Teachers need resources to Teach effectively, but when it comes to Co-Teaching, things like sharing student assignments and data between Teachers becomes especially important. This is one area where digital learning tools can be a big help.  

Support general education teachers when special education teachers are not present. 

For example, have instructional teams prepare versions of lessons so that general education Teachers can more easily provide differentiated instruction on their own. This is another area where digital lessons really shine. If you are following a Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) model, then this is especially important. 

Be aware of and be responsive to staff and student needs as they change over time. 

Recognize that other service delivery options (e.g., pull-out programs), in addition to co-teaching, may be necessary to meet the individual needs of all students.

Schedule special education teachers into general education classes for blocks of time in which co-teaching will be most effective. 

According to Farrow “Co-teaching can be most effective during the main content lesson for the day.  Students have the additional support for the new learning, and the teachers can then divide to support small groups or individuals during group and independent practice.”

Pair general education and special education teachers who can work together effectively. 

Katy Mayer, an Elementary Teacher in San Diego California, notes that it is important for Co-Teachers to be trained to instruct students with specific learning differences. Also, it is helpful to check-in and make sure the members of each Co-Teaching team feel like they are working together effectively.


Limit the number of students with special needs in general education classrooms, particularly when the special education teacher is only in the classroom for part of the day. 

This recommendation is sometimes questioned by today’s educators. Dr. Samantha Fecich, Assistant Professor of Education at Grove City College, says “...if its in the student's LRE then they should be in the gen ed class.” With modern digital learning technology, fully inclusive classrooms - and even non-leveled classrooms where desired - are more achievable than ever before. 

Ensure that parents understand the dynamics of co-teaching. 

Sometimes parents have misconceptions about what co-teaching is and how it’s used. A letter home or email is a good place to start. Here’s some sample language for inspiration. 

Further Reading 

Co-Teaching without the Burnout

Essential features and functions of digital lessons that make Co-Teaching feasible

A teacher’s tool that turns the printed pages of any classroom into engaging digital activities.
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