The Missouri Reader Vol. 43, Issue 2 - Page 47

"It (also) benefits students to see and hear the teacher highlighting important data, skimming sections of the text, making connections to past experiences, and taking the time to pause and think about what is being read."


Instructional Strategies

Reading specialists can have many roles within a school. One role taken by reading specialists and interventionist may be co-teaching. A position paper by the International Reading Association (2000), states, “in order to promote congruency, collaboration, and communication between classroom teachers and reading specialists, the instruction provided by the reading specialist may take place in the classroom” (p. 3). In 2009, Woodward and Talbert-Johnson found some reasons teachers did not support in-class instruction by reading specialists included not enough planning time and a lack of interest in implementing co-teaching. However, Faraclas (2018) found research and training for teachers on how co-teaching implemented within the classroom can improve the fidelity and application of the model. Reading specialists, interventionists, and classroom teachers need knowledge of co-teaching and collaborative practices in order to provide best practices to implement this model.

Cook and Friend (1995) defined co-teaching as two educators teaching in the same physical space and recommended thinking of co-teaching “as an opportunity to increase the instruction options for all students” (p. 3). The role of the Reading Specialist has changed from the past pull-out only model to where Reading Specialists are now expected to work in a more collaborative model in order to help teacher and student performance. They also must be able to plan for, adjust, and modify instruction that may be too hard for students in the general education classroom (Bean, Cassidy, Grumet, Shelton, & Wallis, 2002). This curricular model will provide reading specialists, interventionists, and classroom teachers with a guide for establishing collaborative co-teaching relationships


Co-teaching allows for more communication and collaboration between the teacher and the reading specialist (Woodward & Talbert-Johnson, 2009). This allows both professionals to have a complete understanding of a child and address his or her needs. Co-teaching also can allow for easier classroom management and it takes the responsibility of reaching every child away from just one teacher and allows that challenge to be addressed by a co-teaching team (Turan & Bayer, 2017). However, for co-teaching to be successful, effective communication between the interventionist and the classroom teacher must be a priority. Also, it helps if a respectful relationship must exist between the two professionals. Teachers who have co-taught in the past have described how uneasy they felt in the beginning to have another adult in the classroom. However, over time the teachers began to build their relationship and felt their abilities as teachers also grew through the co-teaching experience (Magiera, et al, 2006). Both professionals in the classroom need to have “mutual respect and effective communication” (Isherwood & Barger-Anderson, 2008, p. 125). Magiera, et al (2006) described the importance of communication, but they also recommended having a good sense of humor and realizing nothing was going to be perfect for both teachers

Where to begin. Before the implementation of co-teaching, approval and guidance from administration is important. Magiera, et al (2008) found one of the major reasons co-teaching classrooms were successful was when both teachers and administrators were supportive of the co-teaching model. Having specific clarification and feedback on the goal of co-teaching from administration is an important component of successful implementation though since it can provide guidance from the onset (Fontana, 2005). It is also beneficial if administration will help to provide training and professional development opportunities to support reading specialists and teachers on the implementation, strategies, and models of co-teaching (Brendle, Lock, & Piazza, 2017; Chitiyo, 2017).

Co-teaching pairs are often established by administration based on the schedules of the teachers. Teacher personalities, management styles and teaching philosophies are not always considered (Isherwood & Barger-Anderson, 2008). In other cases, co-teaching pairs are developed by the teachers, especially when scheduling is more flexible with the interventionist or reading specialist. Since both student and teacher scheduling is often out of the control of teachers, it is also beneficial if administrators, in schools where co-teaching is being implemented, are a part of the initial planning process (Isherwood & Barger-Anderson, 2008). It is also advantageous if administrators recognize the need for co-planning time during the school day (Cook & Friend, 1995). Discussion with administrators on the expectations for co-teaching and implementation will also help to provide teachers with a good plan and allow for cohesive goals between the co-teaching pairs before implementation (Embury & Kroeger, 2012; Isherwood & Barger-Anderson, 2008

It is also recommended before beginning co-teaching, teachers establish open communication. Often the reading specialist or interventionist does not want to overstep the expertise and management of the classroom teacher, and the classroom teacher does not want to assign roles to the interventionist because they do not want to disrespect their position (Isherwood & Barger-Anderson, 2008). Defining roles before beginning co-teaching will help to alleviate this. It also takes time for teachers to become familiar with each other and learn how to exchange ideas as well as work out differences in how teachers plan for instruction. Creating a classroom management plan that addresses routines and management structures before implementation can also help to alleviate problems between the co-teaching pair ahead of time (Faraclas, 2018)