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Co-Teaching Coast-to-Coast: Virtual Conversations and Co-Teaching Engagement Awards

The AACTE Co-Teaching in Clinical Practice Topical Action Group (TAG) recently wrapped up two exciting initiatives focused on bringing teacher preparation faculty together with administrators and teachers in schools across the country. A recurring theme coming from our TAG activities emphasizes the need for systemic change, something that will most effectively occur with collaboration across institutions and school-university partners.

Teacher preparation institutional partnerships with local school districts where co-teaching is valued seem to be increasing expertise for clinical interns, practitioners, and the higher education teacher preparation faculty involved.

This summer, our TAG hosted two virtual Coffee Conversations: Co-Teaching Coast to Coast events to bring practitioners and teacher preparation faculty together for rich discussions about co-teaching. The June conversation focused on administrative perspectives and featured last year’s Co-Teaching TAG Engagement Award winners, Contessa McNulty, specialized student support lead of New York City Department of Education, District 31, and Jennifer Morris, principal of Foothill Knolls STEM Academy of Innovation in Upland, CA.

The August conversation focused on general education and special education teacher collaboration. It featured Co-Teaching TAG Engagement Award winners Amanda Soto, 5th grade teacher at Foothill Knolls STEM Academy of Innovation and adjunct faculty in teacher preparation at the University of La Verne, and Kelly Stanger, special education teacher at Foothill Knolls STEM Academy of Innovation in Upland, CA. All these guest speakers attended the 2022 National Association for Co-Teaching (NACT) Conference in St. Cloud, MN. The lively discussions served to elucidate further the variety of approaches to co-teaching and the value of teacher preparation faculty collaborating with practitioners.

We have also selected two new awardees for our 2023 Co-Teaching TAG Engagement Awards. Ryan Parry, director of special education in Upland Unified School District in California, and Bonnie Wireback, 7th grade special education teacher at Thomas E. Harrington Middle School in Mount Laurel Public Schools, New Jersey. These professionals will attend the 2023 National Association for Co-Teaching (NACT) National Conference in Charlotte, NC, where they will network, attend seminars, and engage with practitioners and teacher preparation faculty from across the country. These awardees play a role in advancing collaboration between practitioners and AACTE Co-Teaching TAG members by serving as guest speakers at our future Coffee Conversation events.

The Co-Teaching TAG is interested in expanding membership and needs members to serve as officers in this exciting new year. If you are interested in joining the Co-Teaching TAG, please visit the AACTE TAG page. We welcome all AACTE members who are involved or interested in co-teaching as a way to advance the profession.

Michelle Damiani, Ph.D., is an assistant professor at Rowan University. Formerly a K-6 special education teacher with co-teaching experience, she now teaches courses related to disability studies, inclusive special education, and inclusive teaching methods in teacher preparation. Damiani is also chair of the AACTE Co-Teaching in Clinical Practice TAG and can be reached at damiani@rowan.edu.

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