Q&A on Co-Teaching with CEC President Marilyn Friend By Christina Samuels on February 28, 2011 12:25 PM
Some key points from Marylin Friend (follow this link for full interview)

-Simultaneously ensures access to the general curriculum and a least restrictive environment.

-For many students with disabilities, co-teaching opens instructional doors and enables them to reach their potential.

-Some instructional coaches or facilitators are finding that co-teaching is a way to partner with teachers to improve classroom practices.

-Strong co-teaching partnerships evolve over multiple years of shared instruction. They are premised on two teachers who each bring strengths to the relationship.

-The general education teacher should bring these four types of knowledge and skills: knowledge of the curriculum and evidence-based instructional strategies (that is, content skills); skills related to group and classroom management; understanding of typical student functioning (academically, socially, emotionally, behaviorally); and expertise in pacing (that is, moving students through required curriculum during the course of the school year).

-Special educators bring expertise in these four areas: deep familiarity with instructional strategies to facilitate student learning (that is, process skills); ability to design education for individual students based on their unique needs; skill in managing the procedural aspects of special education services (from team meetings, to [individualized education programs], to following all the guidelines that characterize the field); and focus on a mastery learning model.

-As the partnership grows, the teachers learn from one another, but the goal remains complementing one another rather than doing identical work side by side.

-Co-teaching works best in the context of a school with a knowledgeable principal who sets expectations, arranges supports, and actively fosters co-teaching as part of the school's service delivery system.

-In secondary co-taught classes, the goal is to have parity, that is, for all the expertise each teacher brings is valued equally in the classroom. Students are grouped in many ways, content and process are blended, and students convey equivalent respect for each educator. This is a high expectation, but when reached, students clearly benefit.