The Third Teacher: Mindful Classroom Design at the Rise School

First we shape our buildings. Thereafter they shape our lives.

-Winston Churchill

abc beads basket

In the Reggio Emilia approach to education classroom design is considered the Third Teacher (the first 2 are instructors and peers). Here at Teaching2gether we agree wholeheartedly. Teachers convey critical messages to their students by way of the prepared environment.

When we label materials with pictures and text we provide access for all our students: readers, non-readers, English Language Learners and any visitor to the classroom.  When we post a schedule on the board it calms our students with attention-based disabilities, provides modeling for children with executive functioning needs, gives the class a sense of where we’re headed in our day, and holds teachers accountable to stay on task. When we provide differentiated materials we allow students to make conscious decisions about what helps them learn.

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Speech Therapy: The Roots of Self-Advocacy

Ms. Hughes uses a portable whiteboard to create on-the-spot visuals and to ensure  repeated, varied exposure to concepts.

Ms. Hughes uses portable whiteboards to create on-the-spot visuals and to ensure repeated, varied exposure to concepts in any setting.

At Teaching2Gether, we do a lot of thinking about the purpose and nature of inclusion and collaboration.  We know the two go hand in hand, but we also have started to think broadly about who the collaborators can be when it comes to creating an inclusive classroom. Continue reading

SXSWedu update coming soon but in the meantime..


“Fair isn’t equal. It’s giving everyone what they need.”

We are coming off a whirlwind week of exploring new apps, meeting visionary teachers and “edupreneurs” and listening to fascinating speakers at the #edtech conference, SXSWedu. It was truly exhilarating to consider how technology will make our classrooms ever more inclusive. We can’t wait to share our new knowledge with you – just as soon as we look through all our notes and get our thoughts in order! You can read some of our real time revelations if you check out our twitter feed. In the meantime we wanted to share this great article on creating a good old fashioned classroom environment where everyone can learn together, from this excellent website and resource, Think Inclusive:

5 Strategies For Structuring An Inclusive Classroom Environment

Check it out and check back soon for more high-tech ways to get inclusive!

LD identification over time

Thanks to Matt Holloway over at the blog, What’s So Specialwe just read this fascinating report on the State of Learning Disabilities in the U.S. in 2014, published by the NCLD. Among many interesting findings, in regards to the Common Core they report that many challenges lie ahead (surprise surprise!). Here is what they recommend: (more…)

Going to SXSWedu? See you there!

South by Southwest edu


We are thrilled to be joining the many distinguished educators, entrepreneurs and visionaries at this year’s South by Southwest education and technology conference, SXSWedu, in our home town of Austin Texas, from March 2-6. If anyone is going to be there and wants to connect, let us know. It looks like it will be an amazing few days with speakers like Diane Ravitch and Wendy Davis, among many many others. We are looking forward to meeting fascinating people, exchanging new ideas, and sharing them with you!

All Hands on Deck


These teachers from P.S. 124 in NYC use Stations daily in order to work with every child. They lead two stations while the other two groups are independent.

You joined the teaching profession to help kids, right? Not for the summers off, the “shorter” working hours (ha!), and definitely not for the pay. You want the very best for ALL your kids, just like the rest of us. However, it’s really really hard to meet all those needs in your classroom by yourself every day. Most teachers go home at the end of the day thinking “If I could have just done _______ for that one kid…”

The good news is you’re really not alone in that endeavor. Continue reading

Intro to the Co-Teaching Models: The Big Picture.

*Administrators and teachers: Download a printable version of this guide to share with your co-teaching staff or teammates here: Intro to Co-Teaching Approaches: The Big Picture

When people hear the term “Co-Teaching” they tend to picture two teachers standing at the front of the classroom, finishing the others’ sentences in a sort of instructional duet. This misguided concept of co-teaching may be one of the reasons many people decide that it’s just not for them. It’s extremely challenging to work in tandem with another adult, especially if you don’t have the time to plan a lesson down to the last detail. Just think about it: you wouldn’t perform a two person show without crafting your script and rehearsing it until you got the timing just right, would you? Neither would we.

Co-teaching like this (or Team Teaching) can certainly be effective at times, but it is not the only way to collaborate. So, what should two teachers be doing when they want to work together? Well, we’re glad you asked. There is so much to say about the infinite ways we can co-teach, but to get us started we are providing a quick visual introduction to the 6 most effective options for partnering with another adult. Continue reading