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Getting to the Heart of Co-teaching

From 2013-2015, I co-taught 4 integrated co-teaching (ICT) classes with four different co-teachers. Though I remained consistent with my expectations and communication within every relationship, each experience was vastly different. Relationships ranged from having multiple “brain-match” moments and being able to change or plan lessons within minutes to difficult, plodding conversations in which neither one of us really understood the other. 
In my experiences with co-teaching, I have again and again tried to nail down what makes the magic happen in a co-teaching relationship. 
After some conversations and reflections, I realized that good co-teaching is centered around trust that the other teacher will lead the students in the right educational direction, even if she does it in different way. To that end, I believe that knowing why a co-teacher is making the decision they are making can help establish communication norms and help co-teachers understand the prior knowledge and experience their partner is working from. 
How, then, do we build trust? There are a variety of “co-teaching tools” such as interviews, check-ins, and co-planning protocols to help co-teachers build a common language. However, knowing the different models of co-teaching, or what time your co-teacher likes to plan does not guarantee that you trust or know about the basis of their educational decisions. 
In the following inquiry, you will read about my process in discovering how we, as teachers, recognize and address differences that create obstacles within co-teaching. 

About the Inquiry Author

Bianca Duec is a 12th Grade Special Educator and Film Teacher at Metropolitan Expeditionary Learning School in Forest Hills, New York.