In the wonderful world of education, collaboration is often the key to unlocking student success. Nowhere is this more evident than in co-teaching partnerships, where educators join forces to provide diverse learners with the support and instruction they need to thrive. At the heart of effective co-teaching lies the art of co-planning—a process that involves synchronizing schedules, aligning instructional goals, and leveraging each teacher's expertise to create meaningful learning experiences. 


In this article, we'll explore the essential role of co-planning in co-teaching and uncover actionable strategies to establish a weekly co-planning routine. From navigating scheduling challenges to fostering shared ownership and clarifying roles and responsibilities, we'll examine the core elements that contribute to successful collaboration in the inclusive classroom. So, whether you're a seasoned co-teacher or just beginning your journey, join us as we embark on the path to unlocking co-teaching success through effective co-planning.

Why Weekly Co-Planning Matters

Have you ever had a day where you were sitting down with your co-teacher, eager to hash out the details of your next lesson. You've got ideas flying left and right in your mind, but somehow, finding the time to sync up your schedules feels like trying to solve a Rubik's cube blindfolded. Sound familiar? 

If you're nodding along, you're not alone. Many co-teachers experience the same challenges when finding dedicated time for collaborative planning. Despite these challenges, it’s important for co-planning to occur on a weekly basis. It is essential for co-teachers to ensure alignment, collaboration, and the delivery of effective instruction.


It's the time when you and your co-teacher come together to synchronize your lesson plans, brainstorm ideas, and address any challenges that may arise. Here are some actionable steps you can take to establish a weekly co-planning schedule:

  1. Explore Shared Duties and Before/After-School Hours: Look for opportunities to leverage shared duties or carve out time before or after school to co-plan. By coordinating your schedules and prioritizing co-planning time, you can create pockets of uninterrupted collaboration.

  2. Engage in a Conversation with Administration: Advocate for the importance of collaborative planning by engaging in open dialogue with your school administration. Share the benefits of co-planning for student achievement and propose solutions to integrate co-planning into the school schedule. Brainstorm creative ideas together to overcome scheduling barriers and prioritize collaborative time.

Remember, where there's a will, there's a way. With determination and strategic planning, you can overcome the hurdles of scheduling and establish a consistent co-planning routine that fuels your co-teaching partnership and propels student success. So, roll up your sleeves, rally your co-teacher, and embark on the journey to co-planning success!

During Co-Planning, Speak the Language of Shared Ownership

A couple of weeks ago, Usher took the stage as the SuperBowl half-time performer, delivering an unforgettable performance that left us all in awe. Now, before I gush further, these are my confessions – I'm a huge Ursher fan. Like right in front of the stage at his Vegas residency for my birthday type of fan. So everything from that first "OHHHH…" in "You Got It Bad" which gets me every time to the mesmerizing guitar solo by H.E.R., every moment was pure magic in my opinion. Yep, as you can see, I got it bad!

But as much as I loved the show, it's the opposite of the shared ownership needed for effective co-teaching. One teacher shouldn't be the solo act, bringing in the co-teacher as a guest performer in the classroom. Nope, that's just not how it should be done!


Shared ownership isn't just a buzzword; it's the secret sauce that transforms ordinary lessons into extraordinary experiences that empower all students to achieve learning goals. It's about understanding that every student, challenge, and triumph belongs to both of you. As co-teachers, you're part of a dynamic team where each member plays an important role. 

But shared ownership isn't just about dividing responsibilities; it's about amplifying each other's strengths. It's about recognizing that together, you're greater than the sum of your parts. During co-planning, speak the language of shared ownership. Instead of "I" and "my," try filling your conversation with "our" and "we." This simple switch in language represents a beautiful symphony of collaboration, where ideas flow freely, and solutions are born from shared perspectives.

Practicing shared ownership allows you to ditch the solo act and embrace the power of partnership. Together, you'll create lessons that inspire, engage, and empower. Because when you unite your efforts and teach in sync, there's no limit to what you can achieve!

Clarify Roles and Responsibilities

In the inclusive classroom, both the general and special education teachers share responsibility for every student. Together, they form a dynamic duo, each contributing their unique expertise. As co-teachers, it's important to establish clear roles and responsibilities so that no one person bears the sole burden of ensuring student success. 

The special education teacher serves as a guide for interventions and specially designed instruction, ensuring that every student's diverse needs are addressed. However, it's essential to dispel the misconception that this responsibility falls solely on their shoulders. Instead, they orchestrate a symphony of support, addressing academic, behavioral, and medical needs alongside their co-teacher.

On the other hand, the general education teacher brings deep knowledge of curriculum standards and instructional strategies to the table. However, they are not a solo performer. Together with their co-teacher, they collaborate on designing differentiated lessons, delivering instruction, and assessing student progress. It's a joint effort where both voices are heard and valued.

Let's not forget the paraeducators, the unsung heroes of the inclusive classroom. While they may not participate in co-planning meetings, their role is essential.  During co-planning, be sure to always take a moment to discuss how they can support individualized instruction and provide targeted assistance to students in need.


As you embark on the journey of co-planning, remember that clarity fosters collaboration. By defining roles, sharing accountability, and embracing the collective expertise of your team, you pave the way for a transformative learning experience that empowers every student to shine. Together, let's step onto the stage and create magic in our classrooms!

Come to the Meeting Prepared

To ensure that every co-planning meeting runs like a well-oiled machine of efficiency and effectiveness, take a moment to reflect on the importance of coming to the meeting prepared, equipped with the tools and resources needed to drive meaningful collaboration.

First and foremost, electronic access to shared plans sets the stage for seamless coordination and collaboration. Whether you're the content expert or the master of accommodations, having a digital repository of lesson plans, co-planning protocols, and meeting agendas ensures that everyone is on the same page from the get-go.

As you prepare for your co-planning meeting, consider your unique role and expertise in the instructional process. If you're the content expert, take the lead in identifying content standards and learning goals, laying the foundation for a lesson that's rooted in academic rigor and relevance. On the other hand, if you specialize in accommodations and specially designed instruction, come prepared to share insights into how students' disabilities impact their learning and what supports are needed to level the playing field.

But preparation isn't just about bringing your expertise to the table—it's also about leveraging technology and data to inform your instructional decisions. Take the time to review student data, identifying areas for differentiation and targeted support. By analyzing student needs and anticipating potential challenges, you can tailor your lesson plans to meet the diverse needs of every learner, ensuring that no student is left behind.


So, dear co-teachers, as you gear up for your next co-planning session, remember this: preparation is the key to unlocking the full potential of collaborative teaching. By coming to the table prepared, equipped, and informed, you set the stage for a co-planning experience that's not just productive, but transformative. Let's roll up our sleeves, dive into the data, and co-create lessons that inspire, empower, and elevate student success. Together, we've got this!

Additional Resources

Discover how to enrich your co-teaching partnership with Teaching In Sync, offering strategies, tech insights, and AI tools for seamless collaboration. Transform your classroom dynamics for mutual success.


Also, consider joining the "Teaching In Sync Facebook Group," a community for educators to share, learn, and grow in co-teaching practices. Together, let's enhance education through collaboration.


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