Bringing Support Services and Teachers Together Through Co-teaching

Occupational therapists are teachers? No,not exactly. However, OTPs (Occupational Therapy Practitioners) support teachers in helping students learn and participate throughout the day across the natural school setting. Therefore it only seems logical to be right there, alongside the teacher, in the natural school setting! 

Co-teaching is when two or more school professionals come together and merge skill sets to deliver instruction to a group of students in one space. It all starts with collaboration and rapport building. The OTP and teacher come together and merge education with life occupations and create a co-teaching session. Each brings something to the table, and in the end a cohesive lesson and activity is created and delivered to a group of students. 

The co-teaching sessions that I created included Google Slides and interactive materials. Each session included educational aspects such as cardinal directions, reading, maps, and social studies merged with occupational therapy areas such as hygiene, daily living skills, fine motor, executive functioning, sensory, and gross motor movement to name a few. 

In the example below, the students took turns reading the Google Slides with direction from the teacher, while I stepped in to bring awareness of the importance of caring for our skin. Following the Google Slide presentation, the students got to simulate the steps using a doll, basins with water, soap, wash clothes, towels, Q-tips and medical items such as Band-aids, Bactine, and antibacterial ointment. 

The teachers and students look forward to the co-teaching sessions. Of course I do as well!  Each student has a part within the activity and sessions are based on the students strengths and skill levels. 

Below are teacher comments on the benefits of co-teaching: 

“The co teaching method has brought variety and differentiation to the plain direct instruction teaching. It’s a way for students to be more engaged, and more involved with all adults in the classroom. The students strive in the co taught environment which gives them a modified curriculum and lets them progress to the best of their abilities. Students build better connections with their peers and it’s a great way to keep them engaged! I love the co taught method, it brings so much to the table for our students.”       Mrs. L 

“Co-teaching lends a blend of quality and specially designed instruction that is differentiated to meet the needs of all students.  This is an empirically effective way to deliver evidence-based teaching in our related service delivery model.  Through co-teaching, students’ active engagement and participation is better recruited through the collaboration and consultation of related service providers and intervention specialists.  Here, targeted skills can be further sharpened and enhanced as it relates to daily living and self-care activities.”    Mr. S 

“ The change in having Tina push-in to my ID/MD classroom versus pulling them out individually to do some collaborative lessons has been awesome!  Having the students work on their goals for both OT, and ELA is much more productive for both of us in order to see progress from our students.  From the student perspective – it is just so much fun!  Love the engaging lessons that we’ve been able to do with the two of us together.  This has really become a practice that works in my classroom!”   Mrs. H 

Tina M Page 


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