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Co-Teaching in Wisconsin

Co-Teaching in Wisconsin

Co-Teaching is generally defined as two or more licensed educators, often a special education teacher and a general education teacher, sharing equal responsibility for planning, delivering, evaluating instruction, and learning to meet the diverse needs of students in a shared space. The overarching goal of co-teaching is to combine and expand upon the expertise of each professional for the benefit of all students. The co-teaching partners learn from one another, and over time, roles become more fluid such that planning, creating modifications, developing accommodations, and content instruction are all done by each as determined through co-planning and assessment of student needs. Attention to implementation science with regard to the application of evidence-based practices for the co-teaching model as well as instruction and behavioral supports is a critical factor to the success of co-teaching. The presence of a special education teacher in a general education classroom does not automatically mean the class is co-taught.

Components of Co-Teaching

Practice Profiles identify the core components of a program, innovation, practice, or intervention, and describe the key activities that are associated with each core component. Practice profiles enable a program to be teachable, learnable, and doable in typical human service settings. (Description of Practice Profiles)

This allows us to have a common language when discussing co-teaching, especially when designing a co-teaching environment that supports equity.

The Co-Teaching Practice Profile describes the essential attributes of an equitable co-taught learning environment which is inclusive of each and every learner. Outlining four core competencies, this practice profile document aims to provide both educators and leaders a framework to promote and support inclusive and equitable co-taught classrooms.

The core competencies include:

  • Designing Physical Space and Functional Structure
  • Planning Learning Experiences for All Learners
  • Delivering Targeted, Individualized Instruction
  • Assessing Student Learning and Providing Feedback

The Co-Teaching Practice Profile serves as a starting point for educators to examine their practice and to implement change at a classroom and school level. Educators at every level may find practical use of this tool in multiple ways, including:

  • Informing practice of educators: As educators build reflection into their daily practice, this tool can help identify areas of strength and needs for teachers, and also promote goal setting in a specific competency.
  • Professional development of educators: As leaders work to build co-teaching teams, this tool can serve as a basis for developing a shared vision of inclusive and equitable co-teaching practices amongst a district, school or team.
  • Training and coaching of educators: As educators and coaches work with preservice teachers or new hires, this framework can build an understanding of inclusive co-teaching practices and building expectations. Furthermore, this tool can cast a wide net to align colleagues, including support services, to a vision or mission (e.g. guidance, social work, paraprofessionals, psychologist, etc.).
  • Building wide audit: As buildings and districts look to quantify the degree of inclusive co-teaching practices, this tool can be used to audit current practices and to inform system change.

Co-Teaching Resources

Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction has developed resources to support schools in the selection and implementation of co-teaching as an instructional approach to provide meaningful inclusion that facilitates grade-level standards-based education.

If your district or school is considering, or reflecting on, whether co-teaching is a good fit for your district, please consider using THE HEXAGON TOOL, developed by the National Implementation Research Network (NIRN). The Hexagon Tool can be used by communities and organizations to better understand how a new or existing program or practice fits into an implementing site’s existing work and context. The Hexagon Tool can be used at any stage of implementation to assess fit and feasibility. It is most commonly used during the Exploration stage when an implementing site is identifying and selecting new programs and practices to implement (NIRN).

Co-Teaching Foundations: Building an Inclusive Environment

The video below can be used to provide professional development for an individual, small group, school or district. The emphasis of the presentation below is on developing a foundation so that co-teaching can be implemented successfully.


(The slide presentation is 30 minutes in length, with several opportunities to pause for reflection and dialogue. If used with a group, the recommendation is to allow for 60-90 minutes)

Script for slide presentation

Materials and Links needed prior to viewing

The focus includes these areas:

  • Identifying the values and beliefs that have led to a decision to implement co-teaching.
  • Ensuring that the environment, be it district/building/class or community setting, has a culture of inclusion.
  • Planning for specially designed instruction that occurs in the learning community, with the intention to eliminate or greatly reduce pull out instruction.
  • The goal is to lay a solid foundation for a successful and sustainable co-teaching experience. Over time four additional slide presentations will be added to explore the four components of the Co-Teaching Practice Profile.

The Co-Teaching Practice Profile was developed to align with the Inclusive Learning Community Practice Profile (ILC-PP).

To find out more about developing Inclusive Learning Communities in your school or district go the DPI webpage for the discretionary project - Research to Practice: Inclusive Learning Communities.