Co-teaching requires trust, comfort in sharing control
- Co-teaching is a mainstay of inclusion-styled classrooms, but the model requires more than just assigning two educators to a class. Teachers need time to plan and even develop a working relationship that benefits students, according to Education Week.
- While numbers are difficult to find, co-teaching appears to be on the rise. Still, research is mixed on whether the process is effective or not, according to the Division of Learning Disabilities and Division of Research of the Council for Exceptional Children, the article says. They say to “use caution,” when deciding to adopt the practice.
- Teachers also must learn a new style of educating children, one that accounts for another educator in the classroom who is not there as support, but as an equal partner in a child’s learning.
When students have more time to spend with teachers in the classroom, they benefit from the increased attention. Teachers can focus on more differentiated instruction, but there is also more “social integration,” among students who may traditionally be kept in separate silos such as those with special needs, according to the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia.
There are some considerations to make, however, particularly for those educators who may be used to running their own classrooms. Administrators eager to put co-teaching models into play should focus on appropriate professional development to ensure teachers are ready, and in the right mindset, before the school year begins.
This pre-planning can include making sure teachers have regularly scheduled time during their own day to plan lessons rather than hoping they are “fitting it in,” notes Janet Peeler, an educational consultant. Administrators may want to consider adjusting the school schedule, not just around when students are in class, but around teachers so they have the adequate prep time they need. More flexible scheduling can also give teachers additional lesson time to implement curriculum that takes the best advantage of their co-teaching arrangement.
Some scholars suggest that block scheduling (in which classes are typically longer) may be most effective in facilitating co-teaching and similar practices, by allowing more “hands-on instruction, active learning and processing time,” according to a Hanover Research literature review.
Educators who co-teach, while having a partner to share in the responsibilities of the classroom, must also be comfortable sharing that control. They also need to be open to amending and adjusting their own styles of teaching and managing the classroom, notes the Curry School of Education.
- Education Week “What It Takes To Make Co-Teaching Work”
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