Because teaching is so complex and contains a whole mix of activities, teaching quality depends on a number of facets and conflicting factors. One innovation is the idea of co-teaching. Two teachers are jointly responsible for a class, create lesson plans together, share academic duties and collectively design teaching aids. In many school districts, co-teaching has come into its own in the growth of special education inclusion classes. In these instances, one of the teachers is a special education teacher while the other is a general education teacher. In the best situations, casual observers can't determine which is which.
During co-teaching, teachers can assume different roles. One can present the lesson and the other can help with visual aids or questioning the students about the material just presented. The class can be divided in two, based on content knowledge, and each group gets a teacher of its own. Another potential of co-teaching is that the teachers actually can present the information together. They work together to decide who presents what and how. The longer the pair works together, the more fluid their content delivery can be.
Elements of co-teaching
Co-teaching also allows teachers to play to their strengths. For instance, a teacher who is more comfortable with one aspect of the content knowledge can teach that point while handing off the items in which she feels weaker. Co-teaching also provides a learning environment for the teachers. They can gain new insight into their own practice by watching each other relate to the students. Some elements of co-teaching include coordinating work to achieve an agreed-upon goal; sharing a belief system that each of the teachers has unique and needed experience; alternately engaging in dual roles of teacher and learner, expert and novice, giver and recipient of knowledge; distributing the task and relationship functions of the traditional lone teacher between the co-teachers; and using a cooperative process that includes teacher interdependence and individual accountability.
Co-teachers are equals
Co-teaching is not one person teaching one subject and the second teacher teaching the next. That is team teaching. Co-teaching is not one teacher teaching while the other works on copying instructional materials in the workroom or corrects papers in a different room. That's working with a teacher's aide. Co-teaching does not occur when one teacher presents a lesson and the other just watches. Co-teaching is not one teacher taking on a subordinate role to the other. Lastly, it is not when one teacher acts as a tutor.
This is actually a good news and bad news point. Teachers share responsibilities when it comes to problem-solving, easing the stress on either teacher. That is the good news. However, because both teachers share the responsibilities of the classroom, the teachers do not necessarily get to know their students as well as they would if they were the only teacher in the classroom.
Co-teaching requires that the teachers involved collaborate and build consensus. The teachers need to be governed by a common vision and a spirit of collegiality and cooperation. Mutual respect is a must in a co-teaching situation. The situation can turn bad if teachers are unable to resolve problems that arise between them.
- College of Education, Florida Atlantic University, "Implementing a co-teaching model for improving schools," Panayiotis Angelides, School of Education, Intercollege, Cyprus,Paper presented at the 19th International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, 2006.
- Guide to Co-Teaching
- Photo Credit dave/morguefile.com
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