The Benefits of Co-teaching
For many school districts, co-teaching has become an integral part of the way students are educated. Co-teaching involves two teachers working together in the same classroom to best meet the needs of all the students. Co-teaching is generally done with inclusion classrooms, where there are several students with special needs. One of the teachers is the regular classroom teacher (math, science, English, etc.). The other co-teacher is an intervention specialist. Co-teaching allows for the individual needs of the students to be met within the regular classroom. These two teachers work collaboratively for the good of all students. Co-teaching depends upon several variables as to whether or not it will be successful.
The most important aspect is the relationship between the teachers. In order to successfully work collaboratively, the teachers need to get along and have a good working relationship. They must be as equals in the classroom.
The teachers need to have clear, established roles. It does not matter how they choose to divide up roles and responsibilities. They must be established, so the teachers do not try to do the same thing or not cover something at all. Generally, these roles can be broken into six different teaching approaches.
- One teach and one observe – one teacher delivers the instruction while the other teachers observes and collects data
- One teach and one assist – one teacher primarily delivers the instruction while the other teacher goes around assisting individual students as they need help
- Parallel teaching – the class is divided into two groups and the same information is taught simultaneously
- Station teaching – the class and content are both divided into two groups, and each teacher delivers their lesson
- Alternative teaching – one teacher works with the class, while the other teacher works with a small group
- Team teaching – both teachers deliver the instruction simultaneously
The teachers both need to be confident and knowledgeable with the standards and curriculum. The intervention specialist needs to know the subject matter being taught in order to co-teach. Likewise, the regular education teacher needs to know the best ways for working with the students with disabilities.
Both co-teachers need to be open to working with all students. The intervention specialist should not avoid working with students who have not been identified with a learning disability. The regular education teacher should not be averse to working with students on IEPs or 504s. The students should all feel comfortable going to either teacher for help.
Co-teaching can take a great deal of work, but the benefits can be very rewarding. It may be a struggle at first for the teachers to work together and learn the other’s teaching style. There will be adjustments with the roles and responsibilities, while the teachers learn to adapt to their strengths and weaknesses. However, once co-teaching is successfully implemented, the students will reap the benefits.