Growing Trust And Collaboration In Our Co-Teaching Journey

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May 2023

Where We Started
During the 2021-2022 school year, we entered into the initial phases of co-teaching. At this point in time, Amanda was supporting students with IEPs (Individualized Education Plan) in one of Tom’s 8th-grade Core Connections, Course 3 classes. Our planning time was inconsistent to non-existent. We were still learning how to communicate with and trust each other, and we did not have in-depth conversations about how our seemingly contradictory goals for the students could better align. This caused conflict in our expectations and how we were approaching teaching and supporting students within the classroom. Although dissent is a necessary component of collaborative co-teaching, our disagreements were not followed up by collaborative problem-solving.

To establish the credibility of both teachers in the eyes of students, we worked with our CPM coach to create a circulation pattern where we were almost always on separate sides of the room, circulating in a consistent pattern so that we both were able to interact with all students.

Initially, we were both unaware of the mathematical assets all students could bring into the inclusive classroom environment because we had not built relationships with all students. Amanda could name mathematical assets for her students with IEPs, and Tom could name mathematical assets for the non IEP students, which was a result of our circulation patterns. Amanda’s circulation pattern focused on students with IEPs while Tom’s circulation pattern focused on students without IEPs, and this led to us focusing on separate groups of students. We operated as if it were almost a pullout class within a general education classroom, rather than teaching and operating as one inclusive classroom with two teachers supporting all students. This did not allow us to build relationships with all students within the classroom, only within our groups.

Our Transition to True Co-Teaching
At the beginning of the 2021-22 school year, we began working with our CPM coach, John Hayes, to improve both our individual teaching methods and our collaborative co-teaching methods. Throughout the year, we transitioned to both of us supporting all students. Our planning became slightly more consistent as the year progressed, but we still had a long way to go in our communication and collaboration.

To establish the credibility of both teachers in the eyes of students, we worked with our CPM coach to create a circulation pattern where we were almost always on separate sides of the room, circulating in a consistent pattern so that we both were able to interact with all students. This supported us in working with and supporting all students collaboratively, rather than distributing the labor of supporting students with IEPs to Amanda and students without IEPs to Tom. This helped us build relationships with students with whom we did not typically interact. We think it also might alleviate some status issues that used to arise when we taught students with IEPs as more of a separate class within the general education classroom.

During our collaboration times, we started talking about upcoming lessons and discussed the lesson goals. By the end of the 2021-2022 school year, we had established a circulation pattern, worked through conflict related to goals and supports, collaborated with our CPM coach to identify individual and collective goals, and began establishing relationships with all students. We were a few small steps closer to effectively co-teaching.

A Turning Point
Our CPM coach encouraged us to apply for CPM’s Teacher Research Corps (TRC) as a co-teaching team to further our skills and contribute to research related to the impacts of co-teaching. Our TRC team decided to study the impact of encouraging students to show growth over time by restructuring our teaching and grading practices. We were excited to start this school year with a shared focus that would benefit all students.

Where We Are Now
We entered into the 2022-2023 school year with dedicated planning time, effective communication and collaboration skills, and a shared goal for all students. We established a 40-minute planning time at least once per week. During this time, we preview upcoming lessons, discuss questioning strategies and lesson goals, and determine Study Team and Teaching Strategies (STTS—see the Teacher tab in your eBook) to use throughout lessons. During our collaboration, we discuss STTS which might be useful for the lessons. Amanda has made notable growth in her knowledge of STTS. As a result, she is empowered to suggest strategies that might improve student outcomes, such as learning, status, and engagement. We think of this as “disrupting” Tom’s lesson planning process to ensure universal access.

We also collaborate on creating assessments and rubrics. We put thought into what standards are important to assess and when they are appropriate to assess. Throughout this school year, we have also adjusted our rubrics to have more student friendly language, sentence stems for student self-reflection, and standards written above each concept. Amanda has even taken on some responsibility for grading assessments using the rubrics we create together.

Tom still does the majority of the lesson planning, as he is the content teacher, but this time allows both of us to ensure we are on the same page and to make the lesson structure effective for all students. Throughout the class, we have an established circulation pattern to ensure we are both touching base with all students. We both use STTS to support students’ collaboration and understanding of the content. This year, we have shared goals and improved communication, which is supported by our growing foundation of trust both in each other and in the CPM process itself.

Picture of Amanda Kadulski & Tom Dagit

Amanda Kadulski & Tom Dagit

Amanda Kadulski, Green Bay, WI,;
Tom Dagit, Green Bay, WI,;

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Algebra Tiles Blue Icon

Algebra Tiles Session

  • Used throughout CPM middle and high school courses
  • Concrete, geometric representation of algebraic concepts.
  • Two-hour virtual session,
  •  Learn how students build their conceptual understanding of simplifying algebraic expressions
  • Solving equations using these tools.  
  • Determining perimeter,
  • Combining like terms,
  • Comparing expressions,
  • Solving equations
  • Use an area model to multiply polynomials,
  • Factor quadratics and other polynomials, and
  • Complete the square.
  • Support the transition from a concrete (manipulative) representation to an abstract model of mathematics..

Foundations for Implementation

This professional learning is designed for teachers as they begin their implementation of CPM. This series contains multiple components and is grounded in multiple active experiences delivered over the first year. This learning experience will encourage teachers to adjust their instructional practices, expand their content knowledge, and challenge their beliefs about teaching and learning. Teachers and leaders will gain first-hand experience with CPM with emphasis on what they will be teaching. Throughout this series educators will experience the mathematics, consider instructional practices, and learn about the classroom environment necessary for a successful implementation of CPM curriculum resources.

Page 2 of the Professional Learning Progression (PDF) describes all of the components of this learning event and the additional support available. Teachers new to a course, but have previously attended Foundations for Implementation, can choose to engage in the course Content Modules in the Professional Learning Portal rather than attending the entire series of learning events again.

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Building on Instructional Practice Series

The Building on Instructional Practice Series consists of three different events – Building on Discourse, Building on Assessment, Building on Equity – that are designed for teachers with a minimum of one year of experience teaching with CPM instructional materials and who have completed the Foundations for Implementation Series.

Building on Equity

In Building on Equity, participants will learn how to include equitable practices in their classroom and support traditionally underserved students in becoming leaders of their own learning. Essential questions include: How do I shift dependent learners into independent learners? How does my own math identity and cultural background impact my classroom? The focus of day one is equitable classroom culture. Participants will reflect on how their math identity and mindsets impact student learning. They will begin working on a plan for Chapter 1 that creates an equitable classroom culture. The focus of day two and three is implementing equitable tasks. Participants will develop their use of the 5 Practices for Orchestrating Meaningful Mathematical Discussions and curate strategies for supporting all students in becoming leaders of their own learning. Participants will use an equity lens to reflect on and revise their Chapter 1 lesson plans.

Building on Assessment

In Building on Assessment, participants will apply assessment research and develop methods to provide feedback to students and inform equitable assessment decisions. On day one, participants will align assessment practices with learning progressions and the principle of mastery over time as well as write assessment items. During day two, participants will develop rubrics, explore alternate types of assessment, and plan for implementation that supports student ownership. On the third day, participants will develop strategies to monitor progress and provide evidence of proficiency with identified mathematics content and practices. Participants will develop assessment action plans that will encourage continued collaboration within their learning community.

Building on Discourse

In Building on Discourse, participants will improve their ability to facilitate meaningful mathematical discourse. This learning experience will encourage participants to adjust their instructional practices in the areas of sharing math authority, developing independent learners, and the creation of equitable classroom environments. Participants will plan for student learning by using teaching practices such as posing purposeful questioning, supporting productive struggle, and facilitating meaningful mathematical discourse. In doing so, participants learn to support students collaboratively engaged with rich tasks with all elements of the Effective Mathematics Teaching Practices incorporated through intentional and reflective planning.