Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Co-Teaching Spotlight: Team Teaching

This year, many of the amazing teachers at my school have asked me how to best co-teach. The models are unfamiliar to many new co-teachers and they want to know how to most successfully use the two professionals that now share a room. 

I have a complicated relationship with the co-teaching models. I feel that oftentimes the models are misunderstood. Let's break it down, eh?

Myth: Team Teaching is the best co-teaching model.

Truth: No one co-teaching model is better than the other. The goal of co-teaching is to provide access to the general education curriculum and appropriately challenge all students. The trick is to vary the model used and not get stuck with just one. The type of model used depends on many things including lesson type, classroom dynamics, space, and teacher preference.

Myth: Co-teaching is only beneficial for students with disabilities.

Truth: Co-teaching is beneficial for all. Research shows that students with and without disabilities benefit from co-teaching. 

I'm going to call this: Julia's Rocking Co-Teaching Series because this is my blog and I can do whatever I want. The most well-known model is team teaching so I'm going to start there.

Model: Team Teaching
Definition: "Teachers share the responsibility for planning and content instruction. The students remain in a large-group setting while teachers work as a team to introduce new content instruction, work on building skills, clarifying information, and facilitating learning and classroom management... co-teachers are 'sharing the stage'" (Collaborative Teaching in Elementary Schools by Wendy W. Murawski).

Both co-teachers plan, instruct, assess, and grade assignments. (A Guide to Co-Teaching by Villa, Thousand, & Nevin)

What does it look like? 
  • Whole class
  • Two teachers teaching all students at one time
  • Two teachers facing the class
  • Both teachers engaged in talking to the class, showing visuals (writing on the board, showing premade examples, acting out directions, etc.).


Watch the video from 2:11 to 3:24. At 2:11, Co-teacher 1 goes over the vocabulary. At 2:51, Co-Teacher 2 goes over the objective of the lesson.

When should I use it?
  • Providing interactive instruction
  • Introducing a new unit
  • Facilitating class discussions
  • Role-play scenarios for students
  • Model appropriate behaviors
  • Model debating one another while still being respectful 
  • Model turn taking

 How to prepare for this during co-planning:
  • Use a co-planning template (here, here, or here on page 15)
  • Discuss why team teaching makes sense for this particular activity
  • Discuss co-teacher strengths and what each teacher can bring to the lesson
  • Break down what each teacher's role is beforehand
Example 1:
Ms. A:  Go over agenda
Mr. B: Introduce lesson
Ms. A: Write discussion points on board
Mr. B: Call on students
Ms. A: Lead summary of discussion
Mr. B: Pass out activity
Ms. B: Lead class in going over directions

Example 2:
"For a lesson on inventions in science, one co-teacher whose interest is history will explain the impact on society. The other co-teacher, whose strengths are more focused on the mechanisms involved, explains how the particular inventions work" (A Guide to Co-Teaching by Villa, Thousand, & Nevin)

  • This approach takes trust in your co-teacher. It might feel clunky the first few times you try this approach. Be honest with the class and collaborate out loud. "Mr. B, I am going to pass out the activity to everyone. Do you want to go over the directions?" "Ms. A, do you have anything else to add?"
  • This is great to use during unplanned moments, as well. Co-teachers might jump in to clarify directions, ask a question to the co-teacher or class, or provide a different viewpoint.

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