How do you co-teach?

So you've decided to take the plunge into the co-teaching world. Good for you! You are on a path that is very rewarding for both teachers and students. You can find out more about these benefits here. 

Overall, there are 5 main types of co-teaching models. They are:

One teach, one assists. This model, one teacher leads the class lesson while the other provides support and behavior management to the students on a small group or individual basis. This model can be flip-flopped at any given time. There is no rule that the lead teacher cannot be the special ed teacher. This model is beneficial if you lack planning time.

Station teaching. I feel like this one is self-explanatory. The special ed and general ed teacher each take a station to be in charge of teaching at and the students rotate about the room to their different stations. This model is nice because one teacher can be reinforcing a new concept while the other reteaches a concept the students previously struggled with. It creates excellent differentiation possibilities.

Parallel teaching. This is where the two teachers will teach the same concept at the same time. Te students are then getting taught in a smaller group setting than what is typically done. The trick, however, is that it is meant to be within the same classroom. If your classroom lacks adequate space (most do) or you have some severe attention problems to multiple things occurring at the same time (like I do) this co-teaching style may not be best for you.

Alternative teaching. In this model, one teacher gives instruction to a smaller group in a different location. The most common form of this would pulling students to read a test to. You could also pull students who did well on an assignment for some extension activities. The only downside is that you have to be sure to not pull the same student groups too often or the groups begin to be labeled as the "smart ones" or the "dumb ones." Also, I have seen this be very much abused by pulling sped kids every day to teach in a separate class. This, then, no longer constitutes as a co-teach and turns into a resource setting.

Team teaching. In this model, both teachers are teaching together simotaneously to the whole class. They also share the planning and other classroom responsibilities. This is where co-teaching should hopefully go, and it is definitely what most administrators want. However, this requires some serious amounts of planning time together in order to be successful, which coincidently, most administrators do not want to give. This is the most difficult to reach of all of the models.

So, which model do I typically co-teach at? I would love to say it is team teaching but that is not the case. I had a GREAT team teaching model with one co-teacher one year, but we had similar planning time and similar ideas on how to teach the lessons. It was very cohesive and effortless. However, more often than not, I am usually in the one teach, one assists model. I currently only have ONE class period ONE day a week (i.e. 45 min/week) that is the same as all THREE of my co-teachers. This also happens to be the only class period I am able to pull students I do not see in my daily schedule to work on their special ed goals. Hence, I literally do not get to plan with my co-teachers. Without this planning time, one teaches, one assists works for us because it allows me to give input when needed but not be in charge of the entire lesson. I feel the students still greatly benefit from it all the same.

Have you ever had a co-teach? What model were you predominately in?

Disclaimer: Photo modified and used from U.S. Army RDECOM

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