With the dawn of the twenty-first century, education has been given more priority with emphasis on the needs of special children. The cycle of including and integrating students with exceptional needs has started in many schools.
And this is what gave rise to the practice of co-teaching, in which co-teachers work together to provide the best educational experience possible to both regular students and students with special needs. This could also inculcate the 5E lesson plan. The co-teaching model was developed to make teaching techniques simpler.
“Co-teaching eliminates the stigma of being segregated in school, allows membership in general education classrooms, and helps provide opportunities for friendships and other positive relationships to develop between students with and without disabilities.” From Collaborative Teaming Third Edition by Margaret E. King-Sears.
What is Co-Teaching?
Co-teaching is a setup in which a general teacher collaborates with a special needs teacher to teach in a generic classroom setting. They are equally accountable and responsible for fostering an inclusive learning environment. Inclusion is “a belief system that embraces the reality that diverse individuals are included within a positive learning environment.” From Elevating Co-Teaching Through UDL. Wakefield by Elizabeth Stein.
Co-teaching is challenging to implement in the classroom as it requires lots of effort and cooperation from both teachers to deliver the best learning experience to the students. As co-teaching is a modern concept of teaching, it also requires modern solutions.
It takes time to implement because it’s an unfamiliar concept, but success can be attained through testing and execution. In order for students to fully comprehend the teachings being taught to them, a teacher must be precise with her lesson plans and her students’ needs.
To make co-teaching successful in meeting each individual’s needs:
- Both teachers should plan lessons and activities together.
- Teachers should use their expertise in a way that each of them can benefit from it. Using the best teaching aids is really important, such as a choice board for students, which will make the class interesting.
- They should exchange their observations and value each other’s input for the children’s betterment.
Why is Co-Teaching So Important?
Given below is a table stating the importance of Co-teaching for educators and students:
|For Educators||For Students|
|1. It helps teachers connect with their students in a better way and understand their needs because of a teacher-to-student ratio.||1. Increase student engagement as individual attention is given to students because of a good student-to-teacher ratio.|
|2. The Co-teaching style reduces the workload of teachers as all the work and responsibility are shared.||2. It helps students to stay focused and occupied in different activities that help their all-around development.|
|3. Co-teaching allows teachers to grow personally by allowing them to experiment more with their teaching techniques. ||3. The Co-teaching style of teaching keeps the students engaged, so they cannot waste their time and energy on trivial things like talking or distracting themselves using technology.|
Six Kinds of Co-Teaching Models
In the early 1970s, Marilyn Friend and Lynne Cook, introduced a concept called co-teaching in their book, Interactions: Collaboration Skills for School Professionals, in which they gave a clear definition of the concept called co-teaching.
“Co-teaching as a specific service delivery option that is based on collaboration.” And it is bound to meet the needs of both students and teachers. For students, it’s their educational needs, and in the case of teachers, it’s their personal growth as teachers.
As we delve deeper into this subject, we will discover its advantages and disadvantages, the appropriate times to utilize it, and how it appears in a classroom. Following are the six Co-teaching models:-
One Teach, One Observe
This is one of the first Co-teaching models and the most significant ones. In this type of teaching style, one teacher leads the class while the other observes the students or keeps an eye on them as she attempts to determine their needs through their actions and reactions. The other non-teaching teacher works hard to maintain order in the classroom and supports students who are lagging in their lessons.
The primary duty of the instructor is to gather student information so that planning can more effectively focus on the areas that require extra attention.
How Does it Appear in the Classroom?
The instructing teacher stands in front of the class and delivers the lesson. On the other hand, the supporting teacher roams freely in the classroom and writes observations from her own perspective. And she also notes down the difficulties which the students are facing while the instructing teacher teaches.
The table below showcases the pros and cons of the one teach, one observe model.
|It assists in gathering organic data that may be useful in the future. The data serves as the basis for preparing lessons and instructions.||The workload of the instructing teacher increases and that of the observing teacher reduces, which could create conflicts between them.|
|This approach provides teachers with several opportunities to view the class through various lenses and perspectives.||It could be delusional to students that there is only one teacher in the true sense.|
|The decorum of the class is taken care of by the supporting teacher. As a result, the classroom experiences fewer interruptions.||If both teachers don’t work in the sink and value each other’s observations, it will result in chaos in the classroom.|
Where to Use it?
It needs to be put into practice when there is a need to analyze the students’ understanding.
One Teaching, One Assisting
This is one of the widely used Co-teaching models. With this instructional strategy, the lead teacher is in complete control of the group and the teaching. Whereas, the role of the assisting teacher is downgraded to that of an assistant. If the tasks are not appropriately cycled, the assistant teacher may not be able to grow personally if she doesn’t promptly interchange roles with the instructing instructor.
In this paradigm, a single instructor leads the class while an additional teacher supports the students’ learning. She helps the students who are falling behind or having trouble understanding the material. Students who struggle to keep up with the pace of the instructing teacher receive one-on-one assistance from the supporting teacher.
The instructor supporting the lead teacher provides the student’s inner voice, her voice when they don’t understand or are having difficulty.
How Does it Appear in the Classroom?
The lead teacher stands next to the blackboard and delivers the lesson while the assistant teacher roams as per will. She checks each desk to see if the students need aid and assist accordingly.
The table below showcases the pros and cons of the one teaching, one assisting model.
|It is an opportunity for teachers to learn from each other by observing their classes in person.||If the helping instructor places greater emphasis on individuals, she may be perceived as biased.|
|Every child gets ample attention from the teacher and assistance whenever needed.||From the perspective of the students, the lead teacher can appear to have supreme power. And the supporting teacher might be seen as helpless.|
|Due to the assistant teacher’s support, there are fewer interruptions between the lessons. And the chapter’s timely completion according to schedule.||One teaching, One assisting model could create a delusional scenario in the children’s minds that the assistant teacher would be available to them every time.|
|When students’ problems are immediately corrected in a class by a supporting teacher, it boosts their morale.||If the teachers don’t switch their duties rotationally, that might lead to incompetence in any of the teachers.|
Where to Use it?
It could be put into practice when one teacher is more familiar with the topic. And the other teacher would be able to assist the students as per their individual needs.
One of the widely known models of teaching is parallel teaching. So what is parallel teaching precisely? Parallel teaching is an approach to co-teaching in which the two teachers collaborate and divide the class into two smaller groups. At the same time, both teachers impart the same knowledge and lessons to the students in a parallel teaching style.
The groups are divided based on learning capacities, educational needs, or the behavioral patterns of the students. And the next time the parallel teaching class students could be in another group, it keeps changing.
How Does it Appear in the Classroom?
Both teachers stand in front and deliver the same lessons synchronously to each group keeping in mind the needs of the students. Usually, a parallel teaching class has one blackboard and one smartboard they can use according to their teaching needs.
The table below showcases the pros and cons of the parallel teaching model.
|It gives students ample opportunity to participate in discussions because of the small size of the class.||To prevent disruptions in each other’s classrooms, both teachers must be skilled at managing the classroom.|
|Students could benefit from this approach as their key areas of learning could get focus from the teacher. And tasks could be planned and executed accordingly.||The most important thing is that the classroom should be able to accommodate two different groups with all the necessary teaching aids.|
|Parallel teaching gives the students a chance to blend with other students with different kinds of learning needs.||In parallel teaching, both teachers need to co-plan with each other so that they can deliver crisp lessons. It is a big task for teachers to match each other’s pace.|
Where to Use it?
The parallel teaching model would be helpful in situations where a large amount of information needs to be conveyed. But it could be used only if both teachers are thorough with the contents of the lesson.
In the station teaching model, both teachers divide the lesson into smaller fragments based on their grasp of the concept and topic. Students are split into smaller groups based on the number of stations created by the teachers. Under each station, a new concept is taught to children by teachers.
Every child or group needs to pass through each station as created by the teachers for a better understanding of the students. Each station could comprise different kinds of teaching aids.
The table below showcases the pros and cons of the station teaching method.
|Integrate hands-on learning activities that encourage learning among students even with learning disabilities.||One of the limitations of using station teaching is it is not universal.|
|Due to fewer students to teacher ratio, the student can delve into asking more questions. And the teacher could resolve the query in the class saving time and effort of teachers.||It does not give students the freedom to learn at their own pace because stations are rotational.|
|It is interesting for students as they discover new things at each station. Class becomes quite engaging as students find each station intriguing to be explored.||Station teaching requires more teaching aids like electronic boards, which are not cost-effective and team-consuming.|
|The station teaching model lets teachers cover more material in less time with more clarity.||Teachers need to co-plan deeply to make it successful.|
Where to Use it?
This model could be used when instructors want to transmit their in-depth expertise to pupils to help them understand their teachings better.
Alternative teaching is also known as “big and small group study.” because it tends to group students into one smaller and one large group.
Based on observation, it is selected between the teacher whose students need special attention. The smaller group includes all the students who need assistance or learning aids like remedial classes to clear up their lack of understanding of the already-covered topic. This model comes in lesser-known co-teaching models.
While the larger group includes students who can understand all the topics taught by the teacher. These children know the background of the topic and can match the pace of the leading teacher.
The table below showcases the pros and cons of the alternative teaching method.
|Alternative teaching is one of the models of teaching where more focus is placed on bridging the gap between general and special needs students.||It may reduce the morale of the students as a feeling of differentiating from others might develop.|
|Students are corrected there and then, so they don’t repeat that mistake again.||Due to the unequal distribution of students, if not properly managed, the larger group could make noise and interfere with the smaller group’s ability to learn.|
|It can help teachers in filling instructional gaps and develop their teaching style to be more special children-friendly.||There could be a conflict between the teachers over the unequal distribution of work. If they don’t do rotations on time. One teacher could feel an overload of work in managing the larger group.|
Where to Use it?
This model of teaching is needed when students are lagging in lessons, require re-teaching of the topics for better understanding, and need special attention to deal with learning disabilities.
Under this model of teaching, both teachers are present in the class at the same time. Teachers conduct lessons as a team, one after the other. Thus, it gives a new approach and perspective to the students. Both teachers enjoy the instructional role, which helps them with skill development.
The table below showcases the pros and cons of the team teaching method.
|Students can absorb more from two different teaching styles.||It requires lots of effort and coordination and might take years to build for perfect execution. |
|The concept of cooperation could be taught to students by their teachers.||Teachers need to have good interpersonal relations to deliver the best education to children. |
|Team teaching gives equal recognition and respect to both teachers.||Children might find themselves at a crossroads between two different teaching styles. |
|It does not let the pressure build up on any one teacher. It is evenly shared between both of them.||The team teaching model needs thorough planning and observation from both teachers.|
Where to Use it?
The Team teaching model could be used when the lesson or topic is too long and requires both the teacher and the student to be present in front of the class.
Before choosing which co-teaching models should be used or is appropriate, it is important to have a thorough grasp of the student’s behavioral demands and the teachers’ level of competence.
How to Decide on Models of Co-Teaching?
Indistinguishable from how not every medication a doctor prescribes is right for the patient, not every co-teaching strategy is right for the classroom. Similarly, not every co-teaching strategy is appropriate for the classroom; it relies on the infrastructure that a student has access to.
The main factors to consider before deciding on co-teaching methods are infrastructure, student needs, and instructor-social relationships all play a role in this.
Things that will help in deciding the appropriate models of teaching are as follows:-
- Both teachers should explore the teaching models together to learn about each other’s weaknesses and strengths.
- Finalize two models of teaching which you both want to implement.
- Analyze the observations and past report cards of the students for a better understanding of their educational needs.
- Plan the model deeply and implement it.
- Once the plan is implemented, analyze its performance and whether it’s able to reach its target or not.
- If one model fails, implement another model of teaching.
You should keep all these pointers in mind before deciding on the co-teaching models to be applied in the classroom.
How to Make Co-Teaching Work?
For fruitful Co-teaching few things should be kept in mind:-
1. Keep Constant Contact With Your Co-teacher
Communication is the Key to Success. If you want your relationship to bloom with your co-teacher, it is necessary to communicate regularly with her. You should exchange your observations and learn from each other. And should freely express any changes that could bring about positive changes in the class.
2. Planning Should Involve Both Parties
As planning involves collaboration, and co-teaching is a two-way process. Both the co-teachers must involve themselves in planning lessons and future courses of action for the betterment of the children as well as their skills.
3. Clearly Defined Roles and Responsibilities
To make co-teaching successful it is necessary to clearly define roles and responsibilities to each other so that the responsibilities are not muddled up afterwards creating disputes between the co-partners.
4. Giving Space and Time to Co-teaching Relationship
No relationship builds in a day; it requires time, space, and effort. So to build a strong relationship between co-teachers, it is necessary to know each other’s style of teaching and try to get acquainted with the likes and dislikes of fellow co-teachers. Sharing thoughts could help build the relationship.
Is the Co-Teaching Model More Effective Than the Single-Teaching Model?
It is true to some extent that co-teaching is more effective than a single model of teaching. This could be said because of its nature of inclusivity for special kids and its attention to the special needs of the children.
When there is a low student-to-teacher ratio, more attention could be given to the needs of the children. Whereas when one teacher is handling the whole class alone, not much attention could be given to each student.
Both approaches include explicit instructions which is quite commendable. But it would be most fruitful when the instructing teacher indulges herself in explicit instruction, While the assisting teacher manages the decorum of the class.
One can argue that the co-teaching model could benefit the education sector. It could aid in the inclusion of children with special needs and hence foster an inclusive environment for all children if it is performed correctly and accurately.