Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Co-Teaching in an Autism Classroom: Planning

Throughout this miniseries, I really wanted to share with you one of the best things I ever did as a teacher: Co-Teaching.  Co-Teaching with one of my colleagues best friends was almost always the highlight of my day.  I learned so much from her, and I truly believe that the two of us working together helped our kids make more progress than either one of us could have done alone.

Co-teaching is not something I started with in my first year of teaching...I waited until I was a few years in before taking on this project.  Since our co-teaching set-up is quite complex and involves a decent amount of prep work, I am going to take the next few days to bring you through the nitty gritty of co-teaching in an autism classroom.

Today is the final day of my miniseries on co-teaching. Please feel free to click on any of the links below to read more about what goes into setting up Co-Teaching in your own classroom.

7.  How to Plan for Co-Teaching

 Today I’ll cover how we planned for Co-Teaching.  We planned for Co-Teaching in the same manner that we planned in our own classrooms.  As I have mentioned in previous posts, we had 3 main groups (6-8 kids in each group) and we split each group into 2 sub groups. For each group, we started out by making a general curricular map, which outlined the main academic areas we wanted to cover as well as targets to address in each season.   We had a general idea of what we wanted to cover and then used common core to supplement our ideas.  Here is an example of a math curricular map for our mid-level group.  As you can see, under the area of computations, we have separate goal areas for our 2 sub groups. 

We also created a monthly plan to show what we would be working on each day.  This helped me and the other teacher decide which activities we needed to spend more time planning and prepping for.  It also helped us decide which days we would have the kids together as a large group (all 6-8 students with 2 teachers) and which days we would split into 2 small groups (3-4 students with 1 teacher).  As you can see from the picture below, we usually chose Tuesday/Thursday to separate the groups.

My co-teacher and I would usually meet one time per month to plan for our 3 groups of co-teaching.  On busy months, we would plan during our group time (we just set the kids up on independent work or math-related games and got our planning on!).  Before meeting, we would usually review our general curricular maps and look through our closets and/or hop on TPT to look for fun activities, worksheets, or games that went along with our topics.   Then, we would bring these together and plug them into different days on our monthly plans.

My co-teaching experience was one of my favorite parts of teaching.  Now that I have recently moved to a new state (away from the job were I was lucky enough to co-teach), this is the part of my day I miss the most!  I got to collaborate and learn from a fabulous teacher and develop my own teaching skills.  I also got to work with a greater variety of students (most of them had previously been in my classroom and transitioned out, so it was a great way to keep in touch with them and watch them continue to grow/develop). It also was such a great experience for my students. They were able to learn social skills to make them successful in a group setting, have more opportunities to interact with other students and create friendships, and learn how to work with a variety of adults and in a variety of environments (preparing them for the rest of their lives).  If you have the opportunity to create something like this in your school for your students, I highly encourage it.  I will now step down off my soap box ;-).  Please, email me if you have any questions or interest in setting up co-teaching in your school (autismtank@gmail.com).

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