As an instructor of over 20 years, I have had my share of co-teaching model experiences. Most of them were very good experiences. Some of them were difficult situations. However, I still believe a true co-teaching method is effective for both the special education student and the regular education student.
Co-teaching is a method of teaching students with two certified teachers. One teacher is a special education instructor and the other instructor is a regular education teacher. Both teachers are serving the needs of ALL students in the classroom.
Research indicates that co-teaching benefits both the students and the instructor. Both teachers have strengths and both have weaknesses. Hopefully, the area one teacher has a weakness; the other teacher has strength.
In one of my co-teaching experiences, I taught with a special education teacher who was excellent in math. Math is not my strongest subject to teach. So, he compensated my weakness in the deep understanding of the teaching of math. My strength was in reading comprehension. We planned together and created activities for both subject areas, but I became the supportive co-teacher in math and he was the lead co-teacher. The roles were reversed when we taught reading.
Co-teaching is not something to be taken for granted. Both instructors have to be willing to participate and schedule planned times to plan upcoming lessons and assessments.
Teaching is not the only thing the co-teachers share. They share the grading, the discipline and, most importantly, they share the students. There should never be a line drawn between YOUR kids and MY kids. They are both of YOUR kids.
All co-teaching strategies are effective if implemented correctly, and both teachers should fully understand what is expected of them. There are many co-teaching, models:
· one teach, one observe= one teacher has the primary role of teaching while the other teacher observes students
· one teach, one assist= one teacher is the primary teacher, the other teacher mainly assists in teaching the lessons. This model is best when you have a paraprofessional or non-certified staff in the classroom with the certified teacher
· station teaching= the teachers teach using a station model. The students are divided into groups and rotate between both of the teachers for instruction at the different stations
· parallel teaching= each teacher teach half the students. Both teachers teach all students. The special education teacher does not only teach special education students and the regular education teacher the regular students. All the students are mixed up according to the student’s needs and the teachers teach all students
· supplemental teaching= one teacher works with the students who have mastered the content and the other teacher works with the students needed more support in mastering the content
· alternative teaching= both teachers teach the content, however, one teacher teaches one way of learning the content, and the other teacher teaches the concept in a different way. This works best in math classes where one teacher teaches one method to solve a math problem and the other teacher teaches a different method of solving the math problem.