Co-taught lessons should look substantively different and richer for students than what one teacher would do alone. In order for co-teaching to be successful, two things must occur:

  • Educators should capitalize on their specific roles
  • Teachers must utilize various co-teaching models

Meaningful collaboration depends on a partnership in which each teacher brings his/her focus of expertise and utilizes his/her specialty to enhance instruction. By focusing on role specialty, the co-teaching partnership is enhanced and all students are supported and challenged.

Teachers should explore, plan and utilize a variety of co-teaching models to differentiate instruction and increase student achievement. There are five nationally recognized models of co-teaching.

Two of my favorite co-teaching models are station teaching and alternative teaching. Both models increase student engagement and response rate, individualize instruction and maximize both educators in a classroom.

Station teaching

Teachers may differentiate station work by:

  • Designating some stations as reteach/reinforce and others as extensions or enrichment, based on assessment data
  • Designing tasks of different levels of challenge or complexity
  • Utilizing different instructional resources related to readiness needs or prior knowledge (C-R-A; multimedia, kinesthetic, etc.)

Alternative teaching

Teachers may differentiate by:

  • Having one teacher work with a small group of students while the other works with the larger group.
  • Tier instruction based on data. The small group is used for preteaching, reteaching, review, extension or enrichment activities.

Lasting words for an effective co-teaching experience

The following tips are the top 10 non-negotiables in establishing an effective co-taught classroom community:

  1. Use words like "our students" and "we would like." Avoid the mindset of "I" or "my students."
  2. Vary roles and determine which co-teaching model could best facilitate differentiation of the lesson or task.
  3. Post objectives to help both you and the students stay on course.
  4. Establish consistent and shared student routines to aid in transitions or gain students' attention.
  5. Create unobtrusive signals to communicate when it is time to move on, more time is needed, etc.
  6. Clipboards are our friends. They help us collect formative data and adjust instruction.
  7. Use sidebar conversations to discuss data and plan for adjusting instruction. The goal is 3-5 sidebars in a 60-minute block.
  8. Parity is important. Be sure both teachers' names are on the door, report cards, graded papers, furniture, space, etc.
  9. Group and regroup students for different purposes, in different manners and with different teachers within the co-teaching partnership (to avoid stigmatization).
  10. Apply the 10:2 rule. After 10 minutes of direct instruction, provide students with a two-minute processing or cooperative learning activity.