A Self-Reflection Tool to Facilitate Growth as a Co-Teaching Team (Podcast included within article)

By Daria Lorio-Barsetn, M.Ed., and Mary Murray Stowe, M.Ed.

Growth and self-transformation cannot be delegated.
Lewis Mumford*

Self-reflection and continual growth are critical to success for educational professionals.  To facilitate this process, this article provides an introduction to a self-reflection tool to guide co-teachers through personalized professional improvement as a co-teaching team.

The Components of Effective Co-Teaching: A Co-Teachers’ Self-Reflection Tool includes 10 components of an effective co-teaching partnership drawn from works by Friend (2018), Stetson (personal communication, July 9, 2018), Murawski and Dieker (2013), Walther-Thomas, Korinek, McLaughlin, and Williams (2000), and other experts in the field of co-teaching.  These 10 components include:

  • Co-Teaching Partnership Relationship Building
  • Co-Planning for Student Success
  • Use of a Variety of Co-Teaching Approaches
  • Evidence-Based Instructional Strategies (EBIS) and Assessment Strategies (for all students)
  • Classroom Management Through Positive Behavioral Supports (for all students)
  • Use of Differentiation and Universal Design for Learning (for all students)
  • Flexible Groupings (connected to EBIS and Co-Teaching Approaches Used)
  • Delivery of Specially Designed Instruction (SDI) to Address the IEP Goals Active in the Classroom
  • Plan for Acceleration of Learning
  • Accommodations and Supplementary Aids and Services

Each component contains four to five progressive steps to guide self-assessment and growth.  For example, “Use of Variety of Co-Teaching Approaches” lists five steps for progress:

  • Use one or two of the co-teaching approaches that do not use small grouping or that do not reduce the teacher-student ratio – one teach/one observe; one teach/one assist; or team teaching
  • Use one of the co-teaching approaches that reduces teacher-student ratio – alternative, parallel, or station teaching
  • Connect the co-teaching approach with the lesson planning and content to be delivered; be aware of the appropriate, yet limited, times when one teach/one observe (e.g., data collection), one teach/one assist, or team teaching, may be used
  • Use two of the co-teaching approaches that reduce student-teacher ratio and provide a rationale for their use with the instructional activity
  • Use all of the co-teaching approaches that reduce teacher-student ratio and provide a rationale for the use of each approach with the instructional activity

As illustrated, each step above builds upon the previous one(s) to facilitate growth within that component. A protocol for using this personalized growth tool appears below.

  1. Individually review the Components of Effective Co-Teaching: Co-Teachers’ Self-Reflection Tool.
  2. Engage in conversation with your co-teaching partner about all the components of co-teaching through a joint review of the Components of Effective Co-Teaching: Co-Teachers’ Self-Reflection Tool. During the conversation, if you encounter areas where additional understanding is needed, make a note and refer to the inclusive practices resources from the Training and Technical Assistance Center at William & Mary (T/TAC WM).
  3. Engage in the first review and reflection with the tool using baseline data gathered from a variety of sources (e.g., student engagement data, student outcome data, progress monitoring of IEP goals). Come to a consensus on the current level of performance for each component by highlighting or shading the agreed-upon step.
  4. Prioritize two to three components to work on through SMART goal-setting. SMART is the acronym for the five criteria that make goals attainable: S-Specific, M-Measurable, A-Attainable, R-Relevant, and T-Timely (Buyrn, 2013). Seek out additional supports or other professional development learning opportunities, if necessary, to increase your knowledge of the selected components. T/TAC WM provides additional inclusive practices resources to support your learning.
  5. As you engage in co-teaching, continue to collect data as described above.
  6. Midyear: Complete the second review and reflection section using the collected data.
  7. Make adjustments in practice as necessary and continue to identify components to target for professional growth.
  8. Continue to implement co-teaching in the classroom and continue to collect data.
  9. End of the year: Complete the third review and reflection section using the collected data and set additional goals for the next school year. Look for additional professional development opportunities during the summer to support your learning.
  10. Continue the reflective process the next school year, making adjustment as goals or circumstances change.

A growing body of evidence indicates that teacher reflection results in improved teacher quality (Hindman & Strong, 2009).  While engaging in reflection can be an uncomfortable process (Hindman & Strong, 2009), especially in the beginning, reflection can and should be an integral part of professional learning and teaching (Knight, 2007).  Reflective practice requires purposeful examination of one’s teaching skills (Gould & Sulzberger, 2009).  Deep reflection and a commitment to improving co-teaching practices increase the likelihood that co-teaching will be a powerful service delivery option for students with disabilities (Gould & Sulzberger, 2009), helping them gain access to the general education curriculum and enhance their academic performance (Anderson, 2008).

Successful partners, Ms. Kody and Ms. Rogers (co-teachers in a Virginia elementary school), share their experience as co-teachers and describe their use of the self-reflection tool for professional growth in this podcast.

Special thanks to Frances Stetson for her contributions to this article. 

References

Anderson, K. A. (2008). Co-teaching: A literature review. Report prepared for the Saskatchewan Ministry of Education. Regina, SK: Saskatchewan Ministry of Education.

Buyrn, C. (2013, May/June). Featured apps: Tools for establishing goals and tracking progress. The College of William and Mary T/TAC Link Lines. Retrieved from   https://education.wm.edu/centers/ttac/resources/articles/assistivetech/featuredappsmayjune2013/index.php

Gould., E., & Sultzberger, L. A. (2009, May/June). Reflective dialogue for co-teaching pairs.  The College of William and Mary T/TAC Link Lines. Retrieved from  https://education.wm.edu/centers/ttac/resources/articles/consultcollaborate/reflectivedial/index.php

Hindman, J. L., & Stronge, J. H. (2009, February). Reflecting on teaching. Virginia Journal of  Education. Retrieved from http://www.veanea.org/home/1327.htm

Friend, M. (2018). Co-teach! Building and sustaining effective classroom partnerships in  inclusive schools (3rd ed.). Washington, DC: Marilyn Friend.

Knight, J. (2007). Instructional coaching: A partnership approach to improving instruction. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Murawski, W. W., & Dieker, L. (2013). Leading the co-teaching dance: Leadership strategies to  enhance team outcomes. Arlington, VA: Council for Exceptional Children.

Walther-Thomas, C., Korinek, L., McLaughlin, V. L., & Williams, B. T. (2000). Collaboration for inclusive education: Developing successful programs. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.

*Lewis Mumford was a twentieth-century American historian, sociologist, philosopher of technology, writer, and literary critic.

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