Are two teachers better than one in a classroom? That’s the assumption with collaborative team teaching, also known as co-teaching. It’s sometimes used to make sure that eligible kids receive special education services while still attending general education classes.
What Is Collaborative Team Teaching?
In a collaborative team teaching classroom, general education and special education teachers share responsibility for all the students in the class. They work together to plan lessons, lecture and teach, do evaluations and manage the class.
As co-teachers, they’re able to give more attention to each student. This might happen in small groups or in one-on-one activities. They can also come up with alternate ways to teach material.
The Benefits of Collaborative Team Teaching
Collaborative team teaching has many benefits. Students get more time with the teachers and can spend more time on classroom work. Students learn from two teachers with different teaching styles, ideas and perspectives.
This approach makes it easier to teach all students to the same educational standards. This includes those with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) and 504 plans. Students with learning and attention issues can learn alongside their peers in a general education classroom.
How Collaborative Team Teaching Works
There are six basic models of collaborative team teaching:
- One teaches, one observes. During class time, one teacher observes students closely and gains valuable information about a child’s attention and behavior issues. She can also see how the child responds to different teaching approaches. That kind of data is valuable for IEPs and for behavioral and instruction intervention planning.
- One teaches, one assists. This frees up the “assistant” teacher to float around the classroom and give individual help or rewards, as needed.
- Station teaching. Teachers may be responsible for different parts of the lesson plan. This allows them to play to their teaching strengths. Students are divided into groups and move from one station to the other. Or the teachers rotate from group to group.
- Parallel teaching. The class is split in half and each teacher takes one group. Both groups are taught the same thing but in a different way.
- Alternative teaching. One teacher handles a larger group of students. Meanwhile, the other teacher works with a small group on a different lesson or gives more support to struggling learners.
- Tag-team teaching. The teachers take turns teaching the class.
What to Watch Out For
Collaborative team teaching doesn’t always work perfectly. Teaching styles, personalities and ideas may clash. One teacher might dominate the other. Teachers may disagree on the best strategy for teaching a topic or how to grade a certain student.
Because they work as a team, the teachers and school officials usually find out a way to resolve those issues. Parents should make sure that co-teaching doesn’t limit the child with special needs—or the special education teacher.
The Overall Objective
Collaborative team teaching is one way to make sure special education students are included in general education classrooms and meet the educational standards set by the districts and the state.