Virtual Co-Planning and Co-Teaching

Written by Amanda Brueggeman with Diane Sweeney

Since my coaching has shifted online, I’ve been grappling with how to continue using the moves for Student-Centered Coaching. As a literacy coach in two elementary schools, my first hurdle was to help teachers get distance learning up and running. Next, came questions about how I could continue to be efficacious as a coach. I decided to zero in on co-planning and co-teaching as my primary strategies.

What Virtual Co-Planning Looks Like

Heather, a special education teacher, and I decided to focus our work on retelling with her first through third grade students. At our first virtual meeting, I shared ideas about how we could work together. She felt that our attention should be on the creation of the short video lessons that she would post weekly. We made a template of the lesson components and used it as we planned what we would include. Together, we also decided how we would share in the creation of each video.

An important part of our planning sessions was discussing how we would collect student evidence to gauge their understanding. This conversation was straightforward as Heather had already planned to use a survey she created in Google Forms. This data then drove our planning sessions and helped us decide on follow-up lessons. While we weren’t sure how many retelling lessons we would need, the evidence made it clear that several students were struggling with how to describe the setting when retelling. With this information, we were able to become even more targeted in the lessons that we taught through video.

What Virtual Co-Teaching Looks Like

Virtual co-teaching can be tricky. Recording video lessons involves planning and may require a few takes. Heather and I found a good system with our planning template and stuck with it for all of the video lessons that we co-taught together. With experience, we began to only need to record the videos once.

Synchronous co-teaching is the perfect time to use the Student-Centered Coaching move known as noticing and naming (see the figure below). To achieve this, we observed how the students were learning in response to the learning target. For example, during another coaching session when I worked with a teacher to design a virtual field trip to the San Diego Zoo, we observed student engagement and took notes focused on what they were doing, saying, and writing. We then used this evidence during a follow-up planning conversation so that we could build in more strategic questions for the next lesson.

What It Looks Like in a ClassroomWhat it Looks like Virtually
Noticing and NamingDuring the lesson, the teacher and coach focus on how the students are demonstrating their current understanding in relation to the learning targets. As we work with students, we will record student evidence that we will use in our planning conversations.The coach joins the lesson by being added to the class roster. Before the lesson, the teacher and coach plan what the students will learn, create, and do. This student evidence becomes the focus of the noticing and naming.  A Padlet, student response, or Google survey are options for how students can share their learning. The evidence that is collected is then used to co-plan future lessons either using a planning template or video conferencing. 

Successes and Challenges

Using student evidence to help teachers decide on their next steps is still the most important aspect of my coaching. Pulling out tools such as note catchers and planning templates has also helped me tremendously. I am often reminded that without co-planning, co-teaching is difficult. Recently, I was asked to join a class at the last minute and I jumped right on and realized that I had no idea what my role would be and felt useless in the moment. Since our time with students is precious, it’s important to be extra intentional in how we support teachers.

My immediate reaction during this transition was to not overwhelm teachers. I knew that they were worried about reaching their students while juggling technology in a limited amount of time, and offering to co-plan and co-teach helped me support them in meaningful ways. 

© Diane Sweeney Consulting

Amanda BrueggemanAMANDA BRUEGGEMAN, Ed.D. is a literacy coach and a certified Student-Centered Coaching consultant with Diane Sweeney Consulting and Corwin.

4 thoughts on “Virtual Co-Planning and Co-Teaching”

  1. Thanks for sharing from your experience. It reminds me that it can be done. I also think working as a cohost of synchronous classes or when in break out rooms will provide us with rich insights. Could you share the planning template?

  2. Thanks for being brave and sharing your learning with us. We are all trying to figure this out through the shift to virtually learning from home with COVID-19.

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