Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Co-Teaching in an Autism Classroom: What is Co-Teaching?

In the spirit of back to school, I 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.

We will cover:
1.  What is Co-Teaching in an Autism Classroom?
2.  Reasons Why to Co-Teach
3. Qualities Needed in Co-Teaching
4.  Topics to Co-Teach
5.  Grouping in Co-Teaching
6.  How to Schedule Co-Teaching
7.  How to Plan for Co-Teaching

Today we will start with, What is Co-Teaching in an Autism Classroom?

Co-Teaching can take on a lot of forms, but it usually involves at least 2 teachers.   Most often, co-teaching is thought of as a general education teacher and special education teacher working together to instruct a mixed group of students.  In my case, it was 2 special education teachers...and even more specifically 2 autism teachers.  I taught 2-5th grade and my coworker taught 5-8th grade. 

Co-Teaching can be set up in a variety of ways.  The teachers can teach together at the same time, 
take turns teaching, or split up and teach different groupings of students at the same time. 
 We implemented all 3 of these methods.

Co-Teaching also involves a lot of planning and organizing, which the two teachers have to do cooperatively.  My coworker and I both ran our own classroom during the entire morning, but for 2 hours in the afternoon, we co-taught and our kids rotated around between our 2 classrooms in what I like to call organized chaos (more to come on this in the coming days). 

Make sure to check out my other posts on Co-Teaching in an Autism Classroom!


  1. Can't wait to see how you guys do this. I co-teach with another Autism teacher as well. This year we are adding in a group of life skills kiddos in our highly structured model to see how it goes! I will do ELA/Math and he will teach SS/Science, then we will co-teach the other areas (daily living, personal management, vocation, etc). I agree, you have to be prepared to work very closely together and share the planning. I struggled with this my first year (as I'm a bit of a control freak), but have grown to respect my coteacher and share the load! :)

  2. I'm really looking forward to seeing how you co-teach! It's something I've thought about trying but it's always seemed like a logistical nightmare! I can't wait to see how you make it work in an all-sped situation :)