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The Truth about Co-Teaching

Exactly what is co-teaching?  Co-teaching involves two or more teachers working together to facilitate and manage a class and provide instruction to students. This technique brings together educators with different strengths, talents, and expertise to improve the overall effort in the classroom. Co-teaching not only benefits the teachers involved, it is also advantageous for the students who are being taught.

The Benefits of Co-Teaching

For teachers, the flexibility and shared responsibility of co-teaching are great benefits in the classroom. This is an opportunity to know and understand your students’ needs better. In addition, co-teaching creates a synergy that helps improve the classroom environment.  Co-teaching also provides diverse insight and solutions when addressing problems that may occur during instruction.

As for students, the teacher-to-student ratio is improved by co-teaching. This increases engagement and improves individualized instruction.  Co-teaching gives students opportunities to improve their relationships with teachers.  Co-teaching creates an education environment in which students can ask teachers questions and get more personalized instruction which leads to improved student academic performance and better behavior. 

How to Improve a Co-Teaching Partnership

Although co-teaching has many benefits, it might not always be the easiest transition to make. Here are a few tips on how to improve that partnership.

  1. Have Respect For Each Other

Even if two teachers have different teaching styles or backgrounds, they need to be able to trust each other. Co-teachers should have a professional relationship beyond the classroom to create a solid foundation. Know each other's strengths, so that you can rely on each other to maximize your partnership. 

If there is discordance between co-teachers, they should attempt to resolve it professionally between themselves; do not get others involved.  If the problem escalates or continues, they should get a trusted administrator to mediate and help them decide on a solution.  

Remember that both teachers are there for the students, which should be the shared main focus.

  1. Clear Roles & Presentation

It is important to remember that both teachers are leaders.  From the beginning of the school year, present yourselves as an equal collaborative team to parents and students.  Use "we" rather than "I" and put both teachers' names on all correspondence and resources. Create opportunities to support each other.  Share in preparing and presenting class instructions and lessons.  

  1. Flexibility 

It's important to remain flexible when you share a classroom with another adult. Your co-teacher might have a different teaching style or philosophy.  Learn how to compromise and be flexible. Pay attention to the needs of your students and make adjustments as needed.  Co-teaching, when done correctly, allows every student to get more attention. This is especially true for those students who require more individualized instruction to reach their learning goals or to succeed in an inclusive setting. 

  1. Consider Various Co-Teaching Models

There are different models for planning and delivering instruction when co-teaching.  You can achieve your objectives by using a variety of models; you do not have to limit yourself to a single configuration. Consider the purpose of every lesson and how much time you have to plan. When you have little time to plan, having the other teacher offer more support might be best.  If one teacher has more experience and expertise with a specific skill or methodology, they should have more input in that lesson or on that topic. 

  1. Plan Everything Together

A successful co-teaching partnership requires time to plan.   You should expect to spend, at minimum, an hour per week planning with your co-teacher to ensure that you are both in concurrence with curriculum and student progress.  Use technology to communicate if you have little time for planning together. For example, create a shared online document for each unit or a calendar of events for the week. If you cannot plan with your colleague before distributing an assignment, ensure both teachers have online access to it. This allows your co-teacher to share and modify ideas and resources.

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