6 Ways to Make Co Teaching Effective

A co-teaching team usually includes a general teacher paired with a special education teacher. The purpose of this is to promote a greater degree of inclusion and make general education accessible to all kinds of learners in a classroom. Both the educators on a co-teaching team are responsible for planning and delivering lectures, assessing students, determining performance improvement and managing the classroom. Effective co-teaching, however, takes a lot of time and effort to perfect.

Here are 6 ways to make co-teaching effective in a classroom setting:

  1. Supportive co-teaching: In this, one member of the team takes the lead role while the other member roams around the classroom to provide individualized support to whoever needs it. This method is highly useful since there is no clash between the responsibilities and focuses of the two teachers. And students who require extra attention are given the due time during class, to make sure that they don’t fall behind the rest of the students.
  2. Parallel Co-teaching: As the name suggests, this system of teaching gives both the educators an opportunity to teach at the same time in the same classroom. Students can benefit greatly if they had more supervision and more opportunities to respond. Both the teachers cover the same topics, in the same class, but divide the students into two groups.
  3. Complementary Approach: In this method, one teacher has the primary responsibility of teaching while the other professional takes care of complementary tasks. These tasks include the likes of notes taking, showing models, distributing worksheets and explaining the assignment, paraphrasing the lead teacher’s words in case someone did not understand them and so on.
  4. Team Teaching: In team teaching, both teachers deliver the same lecture together to the same group of students. This is described as having two brains in one body. If the teaching chemistry between the two educators is ideal, this can be the best way to co-teach. However, most educators believe that this is the most complex form of co-teaching since the style of instruction of every teacher is different.
  5. Alternative Teaching: In nearly all classrooms, instances arise where a bunch of students are not clear on a particular concept and need it to be explained in a different manner. In alternative teaching, one teacher takes the responsibility of the bigger chunk of students while the other teacher works with the smaller group.
  6. Station Teaching: For this approach, the teachers typically divide the students and the study materials. Each teacher then teaches a particular content to one group and then subsequently repeats the same instruction to the other group as well. If required, a third station can also be added to give students the opportunity to work independently.

Challenges of Co-Teaching

Even though this method of teaching can be very effective for the students, there are certain challenges involved in the execution. These tend to be related to the following:

  • Lack of support from the administration
  • Lack of time for co-planning
  • Issues related to shared control
  • Differences in management techniques or teaching styles
  • Having to evaluate the co-teachers
  • Losing ownership of the classroom
  • One teacher being marginalized and treated only as an aide instead of a professional educationist
  • Students might not accept both teachers as equal authority in the classroom, which might create a lot of confusion

No matter what the challenges faced by educators in a co-teaching setting, the benefits are quite vast and varied.

Benefits of Co-Teaching

Many teachers who have participated in co-teaching arrangements, list the following as advantages:

  • Increased attention for each student
  • Shared expertise between the two teachers ensure that twice the amount of knowledge is being brought into the classroom
  • Shared responsibility of instruction results in better management of the classroom
  • The opportunity to differentiate for various student needs increases
  • The level of social-integration between different student groups becomes greater
  • Student achievement levels might rise as well

Co-teaching is a technique that requires a lot of time to master. Some of the methods, in particular the team teaching and complementary teaching require greater commitment. They require the teachers to have a greater comfort level and skills in collaborative planning. When deciding on which approach to use in the lesson, keep in mind the ultimate goal of improving the overall educational outcomes. Strengthening the relationship between the two teachers will ultimately contribute in making the teaching process more effective and successful.

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