Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Education and International Services


Leadership PhD

First Advisor

Shirley Freed

Second Advisor

Marilyn Friend

Third Advisor

Randall J. Siebold



This qualitative study provides a description of a professional learning model using observation and coaching for teachers who participated in training regarding co-teaching to support the implementation of co-teaching.


The study involved participants who were general and special educators from grades K-12 across urban, rural, and suburban school districts in Connecticut. The study included 329 observations of 136 co-teaching teams from 44 schools in 14 districts over the course of 14 years. Classroom observations of 15-20 minutes were initiated in schools with co-teachers in their natural settings using an open-ended observation protocol recorded on the Connecticut Co-Teaching Technical Assistance Visit Observation Tool. Each co-teaching team was observed at least twice. Observations were transcribed and coded to construct thematic matrices. Some of the teams also used an innovation configuration map to self-evaluate their progress in implementing co-teaching. An iterative, recursive process of sorting, categorizing, and linking data into narratives was used to make meaning and provide a rich description of co-teaching.


A qualitative study design was used to obtain a deeper understanding of co-teaching. The narratives share how the co-teachers in the study experienced the development of parity and identified the necessary ingredients to use each of the six co-teaching approaches. The data came from notes by coaches during observation and coaching and the results of the self-evaluations using the innovation configuration map. Four themes emerged from the data in response to the first research question. They are: (a) the importance of the development of parity; (b) a wide range of co-teaching approaches were identified in the initial observations; (c) during the second observation, coaches identified usage of more co-teaching approaches that allowed for more intensive instruction; and (d) influence of planning time on the use of co-teaching approaches. Narrative examples for each theme were provided. The second research question yielded four categories related to teaching behaviors and instruction. They were: (a) instructional strategies; (b) grouping strategies; (c) classroom/behavior management; and (d) specially designed instruction. Narrative examples for each category were given.


Observation and coaching are professional learning models that are recommended to support the implementation of co-teaching. Future research studies should address how co-teaching can improve student outcomes and close achievement gaps for student achievement. Additionally, greater attention needs to be paid to the use of specially designed instruction according to the needs of the students. Three recommendations for practice were suggested to address certain aspects of the professional learning models in this study. The recommendations were: (a) modifications to the observation tool (CT TAV-OT); (b) expansion of work with the co-teaching innovation configuration maps (IC Maps); and (c) consideration of additional coaching models. Two areas were recommended for future research. Studies were suggested for taking a deeper look at the professional learning models of observation and coaching. Additional were suggested for the focus on student achievement.

Subject Area

Teachers--Training of; Teaching teams; Mentoring


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