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Leading the Co-Teaching Dance: Leadership Strategies to Enhance Team Outcomes

CO-Teaching Dance
Wendy Murawski
Lisa Dieker
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Learn how to implement co-teaching in your school! This invaluable resource provides school leaders with the strategies, resources, best practices, techniques and materials they will need to establish and maintain successful co-teaching teams in their schools. The authors draw on their experience and research to address the critical key factors: defining what co-teaching is and is not, understanding the menu of options and the benefits of co-teaching, the 5 keys to co-teaching and to leading co-teaching, developing the culture and structure to support co-teaching, scheduling and planning strategies, implementing and understanding co-instruction, observation and feedback, data collection, institutionalizing co-teaching and disseminating your success.



  • Chapter 1: Learning the Basic Moves
  • Chapter 2: Setting the Stage
  • Chapter 3: Beginning Choreography
  • Chapter 4: Advanced Choreography
  • Chapter 5: Planning the Dance
  • Chapter 6: Creating Your Own Moves
  • Chapter 7: So You Think You Can Dance
  • Chapter 8: Getting Your Dance Scores
  • Chapter 9: Becoming a Dance Pro
  • Chapter 10: Performing for Others

Dr. Wendy Murawski

Wendy Murawski has teaching credentials in learning disabilities, emotional disturbance, and German. She received her B.A. with a double-major in German and comparative literature from the College of William and Mary in Virginia. She followed it with a Master’s in Special Education, also from William and Mary. Her first teaching job was at a high school in Virginia as a half-time German teacher (levels 1–5) and half-time special education teacher. That first job allowed Wendy to experience both sides of the table, as it were. She was a general educator with large class sizes and college-bound students, and she was a special educator with a life skills class, as well as students included in multiple general education classes. She co-taught that very first year, and her positive experiences continued from there.


Working as department chair, Wendy then received her Ed.S. degree and certification in Educational Administration from William and Mary, but decided to pursue a career in higher education rather than school administration. After moving to California with her husband (actor/writer Christien Murawski), she completed her Ph.D. in Special Education with an emphasis on co-teaching and research, while teaching as a full-time special educator in Burbank. Wendy was hired at California State University, Northridge (CSUN) and was inspired to work with her mentor, coteaching innovator Dr. Lynne Cook.


Over her 21 years at CSUN, Wendy became a Full Professor in Special Education and the Eisner Endowed Chair of the Center for Teaching and Learning, in addition to Faculty President for the Michael D. Eisner College of Education, grant director of multiple federal grants focusing on transdisciplinary and collaborative teacher development, and Director of SIMPACT Immersive Learning. Though very active at her own institution, she also stays active in her field. Wendy is the Past President of the Teacher Education Division (TED) of the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC). She owns her own consulting company called 2 TEACH Educational Consulting ( and has provided ongoing consultation to many districts across the country, including Paramount, CA; Baltimore County, MD; Fayetteville, AR; San Angelo, TX; the Indiana State IEP Resource Center; Culver City, CA; and throughout the state of West Virginia.


Wendy has established herself as a national expert in the area of collaboration and co-teaching. She has authored numerous peer-reviewed journal articles in both general and special education journals as well as multiple book chapters and an instructor’s manual. She is the author or editor of 14 books, with two more currently in press. She is an award-winning researcher (receiving the 2002 Dissertation Award from CEC’s Division of Learning Disabilities), author (receiving the 2004 Publication Award from the CEC Division of Research and the 2021 Preeminent Scholarly Publication award from CSUN for her body of work on inclusive education), and teacher educator (receiving the 2004 California Teacher Educator of the Year Award from the California Council of Teacher Educators).


Her seminal meta-analysis on co-teaching research with Dr. Lee Swanson is often cited in the literature. She has presented nationally and internationally, having presented in 45 of the 50 United States, as well as Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Switzerland, Canada, Tanzania, Abu Dhabi, and China, among others. Wendy is a frequent keynote speaker at conferences, is on multiple speakers’ bureaus, and is often requested to consult and present to schools, districts, state departments, and at conferences. She has focused often on the administrators’ role in co-teaching and has been a keynote speaker on the topic for multiple state-level principal’s academies and conferences. In fact, her own administrative roles as CEO of an educational consulting company and Executive Director of a university center led Wendy to get her MBA in 2020 from Western Governors University. Obviously driven and passionate about coteaching, only that of her dear friend, Lisa Dieker, rivals Wendy’s high level of energy in her presentations and work!



Wendy’s crowning glory, however, is her 17-year-old son, Kiernan, who attended a fully inclusive charter K–8 school and was in a co-taught classroom through elementary and middle school. A high school senior in 2021-22, Wendy is eager to see where his journey takes him into college. Though Kiernan and Wendy share an extremely social personality, an amazing sense of humor (if we do say so ourselves), a passion for soccer, and a way with language, Kiernan is definitely his own person and watching him grow and develop is Wendy’s favorite thing to do.


Dr. Lisa Dieker

Lisa Dieker also is certified in general and special education with a degree in elementary education (K–8) and special education (K–12) in the areas of learning disabilities, behavior disorders, and intellectual disabilities. She received her undergraduate and master’s degrees from Eastern Illinois University and her doctorate, which focused on both special education and curriculum and instruction, from the University of Illinois. Very early in her career she realized a passion for working with middle school and high school students. She co-taught throughout her career in the K–12 classroom in social studies, science, mathematics, English, culinary arts, and industrial arts. In higher education, she co-taught her special education methods courses in science, mathematics, and English. During her first sabbatical in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, she spent a semester substitute teaching in K–12 classrooms in urban schools, reminding herself of the challenges teachers face daily, and ensuring she could still walk the walk. During two other sabbaticals, she spent time visiting more than 100 inclusive schools and districts across seven states to look at what is “working” related to collaborative settings in more than 122 high-achieving classrooms.


Lisa’s first position in higher education was at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where she gained a passion for working in urban schools, and where she learned to embrace the unique opportunities available in urban schools, classrooms and communities. In Milwaukee, she co-founded and co-directed the University of Wisconsin (Madison)/Milwaukee Public Schools Special Education Internship Program in the high-need local education agency of Milwaukee Public Schools and received over $2.1 million in funding. Lisa is currently at the University of Central Florida (UCF) as Pegasus Professor and Lockheed Martin Eminent Scholar. At UCF she works across general and speciation education. In special education, she coordinates the Ph.D. program and is proud to have had 279 students with disclosed disabilities graduate from the program. She has received more than $103 million in funding for doctoral preparation from the U.S. Office of Special Education Programs.



On the general education side, Lisa serves as the Director of the UCF/Lockheed Martin Mathematics and Science Academy, where she brings together doctoral students and teachers in collaborative structures across special education, mathematics, and science. In this role, she directs a K–8 teacher leadership program and a career-change program in mathematics and science. Lisa also co-directs the Center for Research in Education and Simulation Technologies (CREST). She and colleagues founded the center after creating a simulated classroom environment to prepare teachers, which today UCF has licensed and commercialized with a company, Mursion. This virtual classroom simulator is used around the globe to prepare teachers and others in high-stress environments. Her work in the CREST is funded with three new projects focused on support students with ASD using artificial intelligence and creating a tool to help coaches in STEM areas support students with disabilities. During her career she has published more than 60 articles and chapters, has received more than $22 million in grant funding, and delivered more than 150 keynote speeches across five countries. She serves as the co-chair of the CEC 2022 Convention & Expo.



In addition, Lisa’s research agenda focuses on high-need local education agencies, she has ongoing relationships with school districts across the country. One of Lisa’s favorite activities is finding a way to connect with her friend Wendy to write together, shop, eat, sightsee, and spend time with family.


Speaking of families, one of the unique perspectives Lisa brings to the book is that of a parent and sibling of people with disabilities. Lisa and her supportive husband, Rich, live in Oviedo, Florida. Their son, Joshua, graduated from Springfield College in Springfield, MA and now lives in Virginia. Lisa and Joshua have delivered five keynote addresses together and numerous presentations, sharing Joshua’s experiences as a student with Tourette Syndrome and a Learning Disability (not to mention being a collegiate All American, Florida State champion, and bronze medalist at the Junior Olympics in men’s gymnastics and an Academic All-American in college) and Lisa’s experiences as his mother.


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