Teaching & Learning
Six Approaches to Co-Teaching
Interactions: Collaboration Skills for School Professionals,
Marilyn Friend and Lynne Cook identify "co-teaching as a specific
service delivery option that is based on collaboration." As
a service delivery option, co-teaching is designed to meet the educational
needs of students with diverse learning options. Students at all
academic levels benefit from alternative assignments and greater
teacher attention in small-group activities that co-teaching makes
possible. Co-teaching allows for more intense and individualized
instruction in the general education setting increasing access to
the general education curriculum while decreasing stigma for students
with special needs. Students have an opportunity to increase their
understanding and respect for students with special needs. Students
with special needs have a greater opportunity for continuity of
instruction as the teachers benefit from the professional support
and exchange of teaching practices as they work collaboratively.
Co-teaching involves two or more certified professionals who contract
to share instructional responsibility for a single group of students
primarily in a single classroom or workspace for specific content
or objectives with mutual ownership, pooled resources and joint
accountability. (Friend & Cook 2000)
Six Approaches to Co-Teaching
1. One Teach, One Observe. One of the advantages
in co-teaching is that more detailed observation of students engaged
in the learning process can occur. With this approach, for example,
co-teachers can decide in advance what types of specific observational
information to gather during instruction and can agree on a system
for gathering the data. Afterward, the teachers should analyze the
2. One Teach, One Assist. In a second approach to co-teaching,
one person would keep primary responsibility for teaching while
the other professional circulated through the room providing unobtrusive
assistance to students as needed.
3. Parallel Teaching. On occasion, student
learning would be greatly facilitated if they just had more supervision
by the teacher or more opportunity to respond. In parallel teaching,
the teachers are both covering the same information, but they divide
the class into two groups and teach simultaneously.
4. Station Teaching. In this co-teaching approach, teachers
divide content and students. Each teacher then teaches the content
to one group and subsequently repeats the instruction for the other
group. If appropriate, a third station could give students an opportunity
to work independently.
5. Alternative Teaching: In most class groups,
occasions arise in which several students need specialized attention.
In alternative teaching, one teacher takes responsibility for the
large group while the other works with a smaller group.
6. Team Teaching: In team teaching, both teachers are delivering
the same instruction at the same time. Some teachers refer to this
as having one brain in two bodies. Others call it tag team teaching.
Most co-teachers consider this approach the most complex but satisfying
way to co-teach, but the approach that is most dependent on teachers'
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