Module 2: Co-Teaching With Your Teacher Candidate
The co-teaching model is based on the premise that the experienced teacher can better support the teacher candidate’s education from in the classroom rather than in the teachers’ lounge.
The co-teaching model contrasts sharply with the traditional model of student teaching.
The traditional model usually involves the teacher candidate taking on solo teaching early on in their student teaching while the experienced teacher is out of the room, sometimes for entire school days or weeks. We sometimes call this the “sink or swim” model.
But with co-teaching, both teachers, the experienced and the novice, stay in the classroom and work together to best meet the needs of all students.
The goal of the co-teaching model is to provide the teacher candidate a realistic teaching experience (planning, teaching, reflecting, and assessing student work) with the cooperating teacher remaining engaged with the students as a co-teacher and co-planner. This partnership enhances the skill of collaboration with professional colleagues.
There are many reasons to support a co-teaching approach.
Benefits for students
- Reduced student to teacher ratio
- Increased instructional options for all students
- Diversity of instructional styles
- Greater levels of student engaged time
- Greater student participation
Benefits for cooperating teachers
- Enhanced collaboration skills
- Increased options for flexible grouping of students
- Another set of eyes to watch and help problem solve
- Flexibility to try things you wouldn’t be able to do alone
- Help with classroom management
Benefits for teacher candidates
- Enhanced collaboration skills
- Improved classroom management skills
- More teaching time
- Increased confidence
- Deeper understanding of the curriculum
- More opportunities to ask questions and reflect
There are several specific instructional techniques used in the co-teaching model that cooperating teachers and teacher candidates are encouraged to use. At first, you can take the lead while co-teaching, but by the final term of the student teaching experience all co-planning, co-teaching, and co-assessing responsibilities should be led by the teacher candidate.
One Teach, One Observe
One teacher has primary responsibility while the other gathers specific observational information on students or the instructing teacher. The key to this strategy is to have a focus for observation.
One Teach, One Assist
One teacher has primary instructional responsibility while the other assists students with their work, monitors behaviors, or checks for understanding.
The co-teaching pair divides the instructional content into parts and the students into groups. Groups spend designated time at each station. Often an independent station (or more than one) will be used along with the two teacher stations.
Each teacher instructs half of the students. The two teachers address the same instructional material and present the material using the same teaching strategy. The greatest benefit to this approach is the reduction of the student-teacher ratio.
Alternative (Differentiated) Teaching
The teachers use different approaches to explaining the same information or skill. The learning outcome is the same for all students; however, the instructional methodology is different.
Both teachers are actively involved in the lesson. From a student perspective, there is no clearly defined leader as both teachers share the instruction, freely interject information, assist students, and answer questions.
Co-teaching strategies in action
The videos below show teachers using the co-teaching strategies described above. As you watch the videos, try to think of at least one way you might implement the strategy with your teacher candidate.
Which co-teaching strategies will you implement early on? How will you implement them?