In my opinion, YES! One meaning of co-teaching is that there has been a mutual decision between teachers present during instruction about the model that would best help students learn THAT DAY. Typically, we are talking about a content area teacher with a special educator or remedial reading teacher. One of the challenges inherent in this model is that content area teachers are most experienced at large group management and pacing of curriculum, while special educators are most experienced at small group or individualized instruction and task analysis for differentiation. These are complementary skills that should be discussed in the context of best advantage for the flow of student learning. Using the 6 basic models of co-teaching when planning instruction can help teachers bring these strengths and challenges to the foreground.
There are 6 basic models of co-teaching:
- One teach and the other observe
- One teach and the other assist
- Station teaching
- Parallel teaching
- Alternative teaching
- Team teaching
Teachers should intentionally choose one of these models and then plan content and student strategy. In other words, answer the question “What would be the most effective student strategy and model for students to learn the content?” Here are some tips for starting the conversation.
For example, in an upper elementary through HS classroom, the teachers may have decided to pair students that day for use of the strategy Survey, Question, Read, Recite, Review (SQ3R). Today, the teachers want to ensure that students know how to survey the chapter in their textbook for connections between graphics and headers. Which model of co-teaching might be most effective for this activity? They could choose Team Teaching. At the beginning of the class, the special educator reminds students about the purpose and the how of the strategy. Next the content area teacher helps students make connections to previous material learned. Then the student pairs begin work. When team teaching, teachers circulate equally around the room, coaching for process and content, not choosing students based on disability since both teachers are responsible for all learners.
Another example used in primary grades might be for one teacher to observe another teacher during shared reading time with the whole class. In this model, the observing teacher would not intervene with students. Instead, the observing teacher would help the other teacher understand what practices she used that were effective in large group instruction and other suggestions to try on a different day. This is critical since students must learn to benefit from all forms of groupings.
I have learned so much from observing teachers and pairings in so many classrooms, grades PreK to HS. Teachers mistakenly think I come up with my brainstorming suggestion list on my own. Instead, I consider myself a honey bee in that many times, I cross pollinate ideas from one teacher to another. I look forward to collaborating with you in improving student learning.