Updated: Jun 22
By Anne Beninghof and Sonya Kunkel
During the next few months, most educators will try remote learning to meet the needs of their students. While virtual co-teaching might be new to you, with a bit of practice and creativity, you can reap many of the same benefits you have already found from co-teaching. Here are a few tips that might help you on your journey.
Planning is more important than ever before!
Begin by setting up a shared lesson planning document online (for teacher eyes only) so that you can both add to the creation or revision of plans. Your plan format should include a column or space to be very specific about what each teacher is doing throughout the scheduled time. Be sure to decide who will lead a portion of the lesson so that talk is not overwhelming, but still addresses student needs. Also, include a column to record the accommodations and specially designed instruction that will be occurring.
Schedule and hold a weekly planning meeting using your phones or an online tool like FaceTime, Skype or Zoom.
Your creative energy will be better if you are hearing or seeing each other, even if for short periods of time. Please make sure your tools have been approved by your district so that they meet confidentiality standards.
Most of the online platforms allow for multiple hosts or a host and panelist so that both of you can have some control over the screen sharing, video feed, etc.
You should be able to split the screen so that both teachers can be visible at times. Be sure to configure your account settings to make this happen. For general education teachers who are not co-teaching all day, you may need to leave your settings this way for the whole day, even if you only need host sharing for parts of the day.
Flipped instruction (recorded lessons watched at asynchronous times) can be a very effective support for students.
Some students may watch these as a pre-teaching experience, while others may watch them once or more after instruction as a review. Parents will also benefit from recorded lessons as a way to help their child with learning. Popular tools include FlipGrid, Screencastify, Doceri, and Educreations, just to name a few.
Here are fifteen suggestions to use if both teachers are teaching “whole group” together.
While one teacher is leading in the virtual co-taught classroom their partner could be:
Writing color-coded notes on the virtual whiteboard
Gathering data on student participation and responses
Verbally clarifying or restating with different terms
Echoing keywords from Teacher A and asking students echo
Restating the learning target three times during the lesson
Asking students to stand, snap, stomp, etc. in response
Preparing breakout room assignments based on student need
Finding websites and adding links for student access
Sending private messages to individual students
Typing chat stems, sentence starters, direction steps
Asking students to pause and summarize in one sentence
Directing all students to generate and submit one question
Creating a no-stakes quiz – 2 or 3 questions for student recall
Adding tips on how to maintain attention in a virtual lesson
Modeling annotation on documents so students have an example
Remember: The Specialist can be Teacher A, too!
Many of the interactive activities that you have used in a co-taught classroom can still be used online. Think creatively about how to turn those fun, engaging ideas into slides and tasks for students. Here are a few examples from Anne’s website on training for adults (but still applicable ideas for children):
Get students moving!
Even if they are signed in on a screen with you, they can still be asked to stand up in response to a question, to pat themselves on the back, stomp their feet, snap their fingers, etc. You may not be able to see them do it, but by asking them to, you are providing the opportunity and suggestion. Movement improves memory and attention, both critical during online instruction. For example, try a scavenger hunt. Ask students to move around their home and snap photos of objects related to your topic, then submit them. If students don’t have access to a phone, they can describe the object in the chatbox.
Manipulatives and hands-on materials can still be used to augment your instruction if you add a touch of flexibility.
For example, if you want students to have connecting cubes for a math lesson, develop a list of alternative materials they might find around their homes such as Legos, plastic cups, pennies, etc. Another example – if in school you might have had students sort vocabulary index cards, you can still ask them to use sticky notes or rip the paper into scraps, write down the words and then sort or categorize them on a tabletop. This will be most successful if you can think of this in advance and post the list before class begins so that students/parents can gather materials.