“COOPERATIVE TEACHING” RAMIL P. POLINTANHead, Mathematics Department
What it Takes to Have Two Teachers Successfully Share a Class?When teachers arecommitted to worktogether for thesuccess of allstudents in theirclassroom, acooperative teachingmodel may be asuccessful option.
A Cooperative Teaching ModelIn a cooperative teaching model, oneclassroom is shared by two or more teachers.These teachers will share all responsibilityincluding planning, instruction, and grading.Typically the co-teaching classroomis aninclusion class with both a regular educationteacher and a special education teacher. Theseteachers must share a common goal, andbelieve that co-teaching is a better method ofteaching for their students to see success.
Cooperative Teaching: aCommon Goal There should be an obvious cooperation in a classroom where two or more teachers share instructional responsibility. A common goal that both teachers are dedicated towards seeing to fruition will tie them together and enable them to work together towards that common end.
Cooperative Teaching: a Common GoalThese co-teachers must work together,open and honest about their strengths andweaknesses in order to present lessons inthe most beneficial way for all students.This model will not work if the teachers donot share the same end goal. As with anyteam, this must be the case or neitherteacher will succeed.
Cooperative Teaching: aPersonal BeliefEach teacher involved in a cooperativeteaching model must believe that themodel will work and indeed must work,in order to see their goals succeed. Ifteachers believe in what they are doing,the model has a better chance atsuccess than those teachers who arenot completely convinced.
Cooperative Teaching: aPersonal BeliefTeachers who believe in the cooperative teachingmodel will work together, play off each other inevery day instruction, find necessary time to plantogether, and be open to suggestions. This type ofteaching model, when both teachers believe inmaking it work, will benefit all students. Whatbetter situation than to have two dedicated, trainedteachers, each with her own specialty skill set,working with each individual student in the sameclassroom?
Cooperative Teaching: aPersonal BeliefTeachers who do not fully believe in thecooperative teaching model, or who cannot find away to work with their cooperating teacher, will seeat most, limited success in their classroom. Thepitfalls to co-teaching include a lack of respect forthe other teacher, and to a degree, a resentmentof someone else in your classroom or of teachingin an inclusion classroom.
Cooperative Teaching: Finding Success in the Classroom Many teachers are placed in a co-teachingposition without their input. Many times a co-teaching relationship between teachers doesnot work, because one teacher or the other isnot fully sold out to making the model work.These teachers must find a way to overcomethese negative thoughts and resentments inorder to find success in their classroom.
Cooperative Teaching: Finding Success in the Classroom One of the most common problems betweenco-teachers is a lack of proper respect for theother teacher. Both teachers must be equals,neither reducing the other to the position ofassistant or aid. Both teachers must respectthe other’s time, ideas and teaching stylewhile at the same time accepting that neitheris perfect.
Cooperative Teaching: Finding Success in the Classroom Co-teaching, where two teachers sharethe responsibilities of a singleclassroom, must find teachers whoshare a common goal and a strongpersonal belief in the model to findsuccess in the classroom.
What is co-teaching?Co-teaching is a model thatemphasizes collaboration andcommunication among all membersof a team to meet the needs of allstudents.
What is co-teaching? Co-teaching is typically perceived as two educational professionals working together to service a group of heterogeneous learners.
What is co-teaching?These teams come together for a common purpose,typically to meet a wide range of learners more effectively.These teams may have a long-term agenda for workingtogether (an entire academic year) or short-term agendassuch as completing a unit together or preparing studentsfor some specific skills. Despite the numerous co-teachingrelationships that can exist, for the purpose of this module,the examples will focus on collaboration between generaland special education teachers in the general educationclassroom. If you have other types of relationships in yourschool, then simply reflect on how those roles relate to theones described.
What are the Keys to Successful Co-Teaching?As with any teaching technique, the skill of theteacher is as important, if not more important,than the technique. However, in co-teachingthere are (at a minimum) three critical issuesthat teams should address prior to starting theprocess. If you are currently co-teaching, youmay want to reflect on these issues to refinewhat you are already doing.
Keys to Successful Co-Teaching Planning - This seems obvious, but co-teaching teams need time to plan and a commitment to the planning process. If one teacher shows up on time and the other always arrives late, then this lack of commitment can hinder the teaming process. Teams should not start their planning period with kid specific issues, but they must focus on planning a lesson for the entire class. Kid specific issues should be addressed throughout the planning process or after the lesson planning is completed. Remember, if no planning time is available, this will limit the types of co-teaching that can be used in your school.
Keys to Successful Co-Teaching Disposition - The philosophy of the two teachers working together is important to consider. If one teacher believes all students should be included and appropriate accommodations are essential, while the other believes that having high standards means treating all students the same, these differences can greatly hinder the co-teaching process. Before starting the co-teaching process, discussing your perspectives on issues such as fairness, grading, behavior management, and philosophy of teaching are important in order to become an effective team.
Keys to Successful Co-Teaching Evaluation - This area is one that is lacking in many individual classrooms and in many schools which have adopted a co-teaching approach. If co-teaching is happening school-wide, then a systematic method should be used to evaluate both teacher satisfaction and student learning with this model. If teachers are working in a team setting, then at least every 4 weeks, they should set aside a few minutes to discuss two critical questions: "Is how we are co-teaching meeting the needs of both teachers?" (For example, is the special educator meeting individual students needs, and is the content teacher meeting local and state standards?
Keys to Successful Co-Teachingand most importantly, "Is what we are doing good forALL students?") If the co-teaching process is onlybeneficial for a student with a disability to gain socialskills, yet everyone else cannot learn because ofdisruptions or because the curriculum is being modifiedfor everyone, then these teachers must talk about thisissue and how to more effectively address thisstudents needs and still ensure the entire class islearning. If such issues arise, it does not necessarilymean that co-teaching should not continue, butmodifications and adjustments should be an expectedpart of the co-teaching process.
What are the Barriers toEffectiveness? Several things can stand in the way of effective teaching in general. However, some issues that are unique or critical to the co-teaching process are described below with some suggestions as to how to address these issues.
Barriers to Effectiveness of Co- Teaching1. Time - The amount of time to plan, the time spent developing aschool-wide support structure for co-teaching, the time spent to preparethe students, and the time teachers are given to develop a personal aswell as a professional relationship can all greatly impact the co-teachingprocess. This statement does not mean that co-teaching has to takemore time, but initially the time must be dedicated to create a schooland classroom that support teaching teams as well as includingstudents. Leadership must either lead teachers in using this type ofmodel or must empower teachers to develop their own skills. Alsocritical to making this type of structure work school-wide is that theschedules of students with disabilities and co-taught teams should becreated first, and then other activities must fill in around these importantstructures. No matter how creative, a limited amount of time or structurefor this process can jeopardize the success of this model.
Barriers to Effectiveness of Co-Teaching2. Grading - Just as the time and structure must bedetermined and scheduled prior to the start of a co-teaching relationship, the same should hold true forgrading. Co-teaching teams must determine prior to thestart of the semester how they will grade students withdiverse learning needs in their classrooms. Other ideasfor grading are provided below, but the most importantvariable to remember is to determine how students willbe evaluated prior to the start of the semester insteadof at the end of the grading period.
Barriers to Effectiveness of Co-Teaching3. Student Readiness - Even 10 years ago many students withdisabilities were not included into the general education curriculum.They were often pulled out and taught separate skills or curriculum.It is important to remember that simply including students intogeneral education co-taught settings may not ensure their success.One of the struggles that teachers at upper grade levels mustacknowledge is that many students with disabilities have received adisjointed education and may have large gaps in their knowledgebase. Just as teachers take the time to prepare themselves for a co-teaching relationship, this same type of preparation may be neededto assist students with disabilities who will be included in the classwho have either academic or behavioral gaps compared to theirpeers.
Barriers to Effectiveness of Co-Teaching4. Teacher Readiness - Even in the strongest schools with thestrongest teachers, resistance to a co-teaching model can occurbecause teachers often are considered to be autonomous. Thebest way to address a school-wide co-teaching model is to letteachers know (preferably using a family model) that they will beco-teaching next year. Then allowing teachers collective autonomyto design models or structures that will work for them but usingcollective accountability that these structures must show teachersshould be allowed collective autonomy to design models orstructures that will work for them, along with collectiveaccountability which shows how they are using co-teaching toensure all students are in their least restrictive environment andmaking strong achievement gains.
Friend, Reising, and Cook (1993) identified five options teachers typically use when implementing a co-teaching model.As teams progress through these 5 types, it is important to remember these types are hierarchical across three variables.
The Three Variables. First, as you move down the continuum of models, more and more planning time together is needed. Second, as you progress in the models, teachers need an equal level of content knowledge to make the model work effectively. This equality of content knowledge can be the greatest barrier to team teaching at the secondary level. Third, as you move down the continuum, teachers must share the same philosophy of inclusion and have a level of trust and respect.
What are the five types of co-teaching?1. Lead and Support 2. Station Teaching 3. Parallel Teaching 4. Alternative Teaching 5. Team Teaching
Lead and SupportOne teacher leads and another offersassistance and support to individuals or smallgroups. In this role, planning must occur byboth teachers, but typically one teacher plansfor the lesson content, while the other doesspecific planning for students individuallearning or behavioral needs.
Station TeachingStudents are divided into heterogeneousgroups and work at classroom stationswith each teacher. Then, in the middle ofthe period or the next day, the studentsswitch to the other station. In this model,both teachers individually develop thecontent of their stations.
Parallel TeachingTeachers jointly plan instruction, but eachmay deliver it to half the class or smallgroups. This type of model typicallyrequires joint planning time to ensure thatas teachers work in their separategroups, they are delivering content in thesame way.
Alternative TeachingOne teacher works with a small group ofstudents to pre-teach, re-teach, supplement, orenrich instruction, while the other teacherinstructs the large group. In this type of co-teaching, more planning time is needed toensure that the logistics of pre-teaching or re-teaching can be completed; also, the teachersmust have similar content knowledge for oneteacher to take a group and re-teach or pre-teach.
Team TeachingBoth teachers share the planning andinstruction of students in a coordinatedfashion. In this type of joint planning time,equal knowledge of the content, a sharedphilosophy, and commitment to allstudents in the class are critical.
PREPARING STUDENTS FOR CO- TEACHINGOne of the critical components of a co-taught classroom is the climate createdfor students who are included,especially if they are coming from aself-contained model.
SummaryLike any educational practice, co-teaching canbe successful if implemented in a school thatembraces the philosophy of inclusion, byteachers who have had time to define theirroles and are given continued time to plan. Inaddition, the students with disabilities who willbe served in the co-taught setting need to beprepared for this change of service delivery.
SummaryFinally, administrators and teachers mustdevelop tools to evaluate the success of allstudents in this model if they are to measuretheir success and to make changes when co-teaching is not working. In the following sectionthere are numerous tools that can assist you inthinking about your school, your classroom, andmost importantly your students in attempting tocreate the most successful co-taughtenvironment for all students.