Module 2: Co-Planning and Co-Teaching with your Teacher Candidate


The co-teaching and co-planning models are based on the idea that an experienced teacher (Clinical Educator) and the teacher candidate work collaboratively to best meet the diverse needs of students. Dissimilar to the “traditional student teacher model,” the goal is to provide the teacher candidate a realistic experience (planning, teaching, reflecting, and assessing student work) with the Clinical Educator remaining engaged with the students as a co-teacher and co-planner. The Office of School and Community Partnerships, at UNC Charlotte strongly believes in the power of co-planning and co-teaching and has adopted this method of collaboration as a building block with our partner schools to support the teacher candidate’s experience. Co-planning and Co-Teaching allows P-12 students to see both the teacher candidate and Clinical Educator as educators in the classroom. Additionally, the Clinical Educator gradually releases responsibility to the teacher candidate with both parties feeling confident in a smooth transition through co-planning and co-teaching at the onset of the experience.


How & When to implement these strategies

Beginning of YLI Semester

Review the co-teacher and co-planning strategies and resources together.  Involve the teacher candidate in planning. Begin using co-planning strategies. Have your teacher candidate observe you to make suggestions on ways they feel comfortable beginning co-teaching.

During YLI Semester

Continue Involving the teacher candidate in planning. Select co-planning strategies that begin to shift the responsibility. Beginning looking for opportunities to try co-teaching strategies. Debrief them to find ones you both like.

Beginning Student Teacher Semester

Continue Involving the teacher candidate in planning. Select co-planning strategies that begin to shift the responsibility. Implement a variety of co-teaching strategies. Plan lessons that specifically target co-teaching methods that work well for you both. 

During the Student Teacher Semester

Continue co-planning allowing the teacher candidate holding most of the responsibility at times. Continue co-teaching when it most benefits the lesson or the teacher candidate wants to implement a new strategy and may need further assistance. 


Benefits of Co-Planning &  Co-teaching


  • Student to teacher ratio is reduced
  • Varied instructional options for all students
  • Diversity of instructional strategies and delivery 
  • Differentiated methods increases student access, engagement, and participation

Clinical Educators

  • Continued collaborative and leadership skills (instructional coaching)
  • Increased options for implementing varied instructional strategies (ex: flexible grouping)
  • Dividing classroom responsibilities and classroom management 
  • Opportunities to explore new strategies with support of another teacher

Teacher Candidates

  • Enhanced collaboration and leadership skills/strong
  • Low risk environment to explore instructional strategies and classroom management 
  • Increased confidence
  • Increased opportunities for deeper understanding curriculum and teaching
  • Supports in the moment adjustments and reflective practice


Co-Planning Strategies

Co-Planning occurs when the Clinical Educator and Student Teacher sits together to review plans utilizing the co-planning guide displayed below. Co-Planning is strongly encouraged for Clinical Educators and teacher candidates. The Co-Planning Strategy Guide below displays the gradual release of the responsibility for planning to the teacher candidate.


Strategy: One Reflects, One Plans


One teacher thinks aloud about the main parts of the lesson and the other writes the plan.

For many teachers, thinking aloud requires articulating what may be automatic. The mentor must ask, “How do I know how to plan?”


  • Lesson content is a reasonable fit
  • Provides transparency early in the planning process


  • May be a gap between what one teacher spoke out loud and what the other teacher heard
  • Critical that the same teacher is not always in the same role


Strategy: One Plans, One Assists


Each co-teacher designs a portion of the lesson, although one clearly has the main responsibility. The team works jointly on final planning.

It provides an opportunity for each co-teacher to contribute new resources to the other.


  • Better instructional materials
  • Clear division of planning responsibilities 
  • Final planning done jointly


  • Initial planning done separately so it may be challenging to mesh ideas
  • Critical that the same teacher is not always in the assistant role


Strategy: Partner Planning


Co-teachers take responsibility for about half of the components of the lesson plan. Then they complete the plan collaboratively.

Requires that the lesson be visualized as components for which initial planning can be planned independently.


  • It is efficient 
  • Each teacher provides initial planning for only part of the lesson


  • Pieces of lesson may not mesh well
  • Requires initial visioning together



Strategy: One plans. One Reacts


One co-teacher plans, and the other makes suggestions for improvement.

This approach is most used in traditional mentor-intern settings.


  • Provides opportunity for good feedback  and discussion of the lesson plan elements
  • Gives planner spaces for creativity in initial plans


  • Provides response after the fact instead of in real time
  • Initial approach may be off base
  • One may feel like an assistant


Strategy: Parallell Planning


Each member of the co-teaching team develops a lesson plan, and the two bring them together for discussion and integration.

Parallel planning provides an opportunity for teachers to learn from one another.


  • Allows for compare and contrast of examples and points of emphasis
  • Gives both teachers the opportunity for creativity in planning


  • Duplicate work done
  • Teacher may become heavily invested in their own plan, making collaboration difficult


Strategry: Team Planning


Both teachers actively plan at the same time and in the same space with no clear distinction of who takes leadership. 

At any given time, either teacher may take the lead in suggesting tasks, questions, flow of the lesson, etc.


  • Resulting lesson plan may be better than a place done independently by either 
  • May be more efficient because feedback and collaboration happen in real time


  • One co-teacher may be less prepared to contribute than the other 
  • Requires high levels of trust and communication



how to make the most of a co-teaching partnership: respect each other, clearly define roles and responsibilities, be flexible, plan together, don't take yourself too seriously, communicate, and seek administrative support.Have you ever planned an amazing lesson and as you are delivering it thought, “I wish I had an extra person to help make this happen?” Co-Teaching is that wish come true! Now that you have learned about the Co-Planning model, you are ready to begin envisioning what planning will look like in action through Co-Teaching. The Co-Teaching Strategy Guide below displays the various ways you can co-teach with your Student Teacher to maximize your impact on your students and their diverse needs. As stated above, Co-Teaching is strongly encouraged for Clinical Educators and Student Teachers as we transform the internship from a traditional model to a realistic teaching experience with the guidance and expertise of the Clinical Educator.

While not every strategy listed below will best fit your personality or style, we ask you to consider being open minded to trying each and reflecting with your Student Teacher to decide which ones work best for you both. You may be wondering how and when you may implement these strategies. A suggested start may begin with you taking the lead while co-teaching, but by the final semester of the student teaching experience all co-planning, co-teaching, and co-assessing responsibilities should be led by the teacher candidate.

© 2021 Cult of Pedagogy


Co-Teaching Strategies


One Teach, One Observe

One teacher has primary responsibility while the other gathers specific observational information on students or the instructing teacher. The key to this strategy is to have a focus for observation.


One Teach, One Assist

One teacher has primary instructional responsibility while the other assists students with their work, monitors behaviors, or checks for understanding.


Station Teaching

The co-teaching pair divides the instructional content into parts and the students into groups. Groups spend designated time at each station. Often an independent station (or more than one) will be used along with the two teacher stations.


Parallel Teaching

Each teacher instructs half of the students. The two teachers address the same instructional material and present the material using the same teaching strategy. The greatest benefit to this approach is the reduction of the student-teacher ratio.


Alternative (Differentiated) Teaching

The teachers use different approaches to explaining the same information or skill. The learning outcome is the same for all students; however, the instructional methodology is different.


Team Teaching

Both teachers are actively involved in the lesson. From a student perspective, there is no clearly defined leader as both teachers share the instruction, freely interject information, assist students, and answer questions.


Supporting Your Teacher Candidate During Co-Planning and Co-Teaching

  • Try to stay mindful of expectations. In the hands of an experienced educator, teaching and planning often looks seamless. This can be disconcerting to a teacher candidate who tries to replicate what the Clinical Educator.
  • Many novice educators have very high expectations for themselves and are devastated by their early results in the classroom. It is also possible for us, the experienced teachers, to set our expectations too high for someone just beginning in the classroom.
  • For many teacher candidates they have written single lesson plans in their methods courses. However, they may need additional support in writing lesson plans that demonstrate their comprehensive knowledge from those courses into actionable lesson plans that meet the needs of all students in their internship.  
  • It is important to remember that teacher candidates have a lot to learn during their time in the internship and we believe that your support and coaching will help them develop the skills necessary to be successful.
  • If at any point the teacher candidate needs additional support with lesson planning during the student teaching semester, we advise Clinical Educators to employ parallel planning and alert the Faculty Site Coordinator. If additional team planning is necessary, the Faculty Site Coordinator can join the team planning intervention to offer additional support. 

Need further assistance with Co-planning or Co-Teaching?

St. Cloud State University’s Co-Teaching Resources.

Things to consider as you move forward:

  • How do you see co-planning and co-teaching benefiting your experience with your teacher candidate?
  • Which strategies are you most looking forward to implementing?
  • How do you plan to implement co-planning and co-teaching with your teacher candidate?


Source Figure: 4.2 Co-Teaching Approaches from Friend, M., & Bmsuck, W. D (2009). Including students with special needs. A practical guide for classroom teachers (4th ed., p. 88). Boston: Allyn & Bacon. Copyright 2002 by Pearson Education.

Division of Education & Leadership. Western Oregon University. (n.d.).