Why have co-teach?

This year, I am in my 5th year as a middle school math special ed co-teacher. While I was very apprehensive at first about co-teaching, I have been able to see first-hand all of the benefits that come with the territory. If you are a new co-teacher or think you may become one in the future (both special ed or general ed), I want you to know all of the great things that can happen.

  • It is easier to manage students. No, really. We always talk about class sizes and student:teacher ratios, but all of that mumbo jumbo is so true! In a co-teach class, students aren't getting left behind because the teacher didn't have time to get to them. Having 2 hands on deck means it takes half the time to check and double check student progress as they are working. This means more time for corrections and reteaching of concepts, ensuring all students have mastered the concepts.
  • It benefits all students socially. The special ed students are getting to be around general ed peers more than in any generation before. They are able to better pick up appropriate social cues from peers and be accepted as one of the bunch. For the general ed students, they get to live in a world where they interact with students who are different than them. They learn how to be patient, kind, and accepting of others. They live in a world that has never known what it was like for the special ed kids to be separated from the rest. This turns into student bodies who celebrate those differences by electing the girl with Down's Syndrome as the homecoming queen.
  • It is easier for the special ed teacher to keep on eye on student progress. I currently have both co-teach classes and resource classes. I can honestly say that I know where my co-teach students stand academically more than my resource kids. Why? Because of that whole "easier to manage students" thing. When I am not the only person responsible for putting out fires and handling behaviors, it frees up more time for academics. My resource classes do not get that since I am the only one in there with no aides. 
  • It is easier for the general ed teacher to keep an eye on student progress. Exactly the same as above except flipped.
  • It allows teachers to share knowledge and teaching styles with the students. Realistically, we all come from different backgrounds and have different teaching styles. Co-teaching allows teachers to share their strengths and present material in different ways for students to understand. This sharing of strengths means materials are always being presented thoroughly and accurately as well.
  • And lastly, it builds trust and friendships among the teachers.  I am thankful to get to spend my time with other teachers in their classrooms. It builds trust an confidence amongst the teachers in a way that cannot be replaced by lunch time chatter.

What other ways have you seen co-teach be beneficial to implement?

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

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