strategies for co-teaching

These strategies and tips will lead to positive relationship building between the partners:

  1. Start with building rapport
  2. Clarify roles, responsibilities & lesson assignments
  3. Vary responsibilities & roles
  4. Communicate, communicate, communicate
  1. Develop a protocol for your planning sessions
  2. Take time to reflect & check in
  3. Resolve difficult situations
  4. Pacing guide

1 - Start with building rapport

For co-teaching to be successful, each partner needs to feel comfortable in the working relationship. In some sense, the co-teachers are entering into a short-term marriage that is built upon speed dating rather than a lengthy courtship.


  1. Speed dating is still dating: Get to know each other on both a professional and personal level.
  2. Build trust: Make no assumptions, discuss your thinking and rationale for what you do.
  3. Share: Start with talking about your philosophy, management style, and instructional preferences.

2 - Clarify roles, responsibilities & lesson assignments

Each co-teacher needs to know what is expected of her for each lesson: the less ambiguity, the more successful the co-teaching.


  1. Clarify your expectations of your role and of your partner’s role within each of the co-teaching formats each time you plan together.
  2. Show respect by giving the other person credit and support for their participation in the partnership.
  3. Present a positive attitude about yourself and what you offer to the co-teaching arrangement.

3 - Vary responsibilities & roles

Variation will increase learning opportunities and energize each co-teacher while maintaining student attention.


  1. It is important that the students see both of you in an instructional leadership role as this will help them accept your joint authority.
  2. Try different co-teaching formats and see how each feels. Discuss your preferences.

4 - Communicate, communicate, communicate

Ongoing conversation will solidify the relationship and show a united front to students. Planning together and then debriefing lessons clarifies responsibilities, keeps both partners alert to student needs, and allows you to confront concerns before they become problems.


  1. Frame suggestions or concerns in a positive light.
  2. Discuss your teaching philosophy, management style, and instructional preferences before something becomes an issue in the classroom.
  3. Recognize each other’s strengths, forgive each other’s weaknesses.

Peer group

5 - Develop a protocol for your planning sessions

Whether it is in the form of the Co-teaching Planning Protocol (PDF), a common lesson plan, or a task sheet, co-teachers need to know what the "script" is for the coming lesson.


  1. Agree upon a structure for your planning time including who will lead the planning for any particular lesson.
  2. Rely on preparation rather than spontaneity for implementation of good lessons.
  3. Capitalize on what each partner does well.

6 - Take time to reflect & check in

Don’t assume that just because a lesson is over and has gone well that there is nothing to talk about and learn from debriefing together. Catching each other quickly between lessons is not sufficient for co-teaching success.


  1. Regularly schedule conference times for both planning and reflection.
  2. Share your observations and listen to each other.
  3. No matter what stage of experience a teacher is at, it is important to think about a lesson.
  4. Remember to laugh together!

7 - Resolve difficult situations

The relevance of collaborative skills and planning cannot be underestimated for successful co-teaching, but even in the best situation, difficulties will arise that need the attention of both co-teachers. These tips will help you work through some common rough spots in co-teaching.

Tips for:

  1. Opening a co-teaching conversation
  2. Resolving differences
  3. Differentiating roles: Equalizing responsibilities
  4. What to do when co-teaching with a student teacher doesn’t work

8 - Pacing guide

This example pacing guide represents how a cooperating teacher and a student teacher may plan for assuming co-teaching responsibilities across the placement period.