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Co-Teaching: What Can Two Do Better Than One?

Updated: Aug 4, 2023

Co-teaching typically refers to a general education teacher and special educator working together to provide instruction to a group of students, including those with disabilities, in general education classrooms (Friend, 2008).

Co-teaching models emphasize shared responsibility for planning, assessing, and instructing students, as well as setting aside time for collaborative planning (Friend, Reising, & Cook, 1993). The concept of parity, or sharing responsibility for planning, instruction, and student progress, is central to the co-taught classroom.

When co-teachers assume shared ownership and vary models of co-teaching, the results can be phenomenal! Small group instruction occurs more frequently, students receive personalized attention, and differentiated tasks are available to meet the needs of all learners.

Yet, all too often, co-teaching partnerships fail to live up to their potential. Co-teachers should always ask themselves this:

What can two do better than one?

When one co-teacher provides most of the instruction and another looks on, or when both teachers instruct jointly but only provide one method of instruction, the potential of co-teaching partnerships is not fully realized.

Knowing the co-teaching models is a first step in implementation. However, understanding when to utilize the models, when not to use them, and the pitfalls associated with each is critical. Check out the “quick start” table below to better understand what two can do better than one:

The quick start guide above is only a small piece of the co-teaching puzzle. Developing positive relationships and parity, implementing varied models, and setting a vision and goals for your partnership assists in answering the question, "What can two do better than one?"

Two young women standing in front of a white board facing one another and talking.  Text on the whiteboard says "feedback" and "review."  The woman on the left has long brown hair and white skin.  She is wearing a jean jacket and pink and green striped pants.  The woman on the left  has long red hair and fair skin.  She is wearing a sleeveless black shirt, dark blue jeans, and has a silver watch.

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Pam Gray
Pam Gray
Oct 17, 2021

Having 2 teachers that work well together is where it starts.


When co teaching, having a positive relationship is important and planning ahead, starting with the quick start method.

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