Co-taught lessons should look substantively different and richer for kids than what one teacher would do alone. A co-taught classroom provides more opportunities for students to receive feedback, which allows them to move rapidly toward self-monitoring, adjusting their strategies for success and independence.

When instruction is tailored to ensure all students can access the content, it allows for more student independence as they self-monitor success and evaluate fix-up strategies. As co-teachers plan differentiated instruction, they should consider how to provide tasks that students can access with little teacher support.

The following three co-teaching models provide a variety of ways for both teachers to instruct students and reinforce their independence.

Station co-teaching

At one station, Teacher A preteaches a small group of students a process or think-aloud. Students create their own checklist or rubric for success on the task. After rotating, Teacher B continues teaching the small group, asking them to demonstrate the process and apply it to a more abstract problem or task.

At the independent station, the students are expected to work together to apply the process to a new task, using their checklist for success.

Parallel co-teaching

On each side of the classroom, Teacher A and Teacher B explicitly teach their small group of students a new skill or process.

After the time allotted, the students partner up with students from the other group and teach each other the new skill of process using a guided set of questions or checklist. Students then solve or demonstrate mastery on the skill or task together on a task.

Alternative teaching

Teacher A pulls aside a small group in the first five minutes of the lessons to preteach a process/skill using a kinesthetic movement to support organization and retention of the multistep process. Simultaneously, Teacher B leads whole-group instruction.

As the students rejoin the class from Teacher A's small group, they are eager to participate and share their "cool" kinesthetic movement to support their peers' understanding.

When students are presented with tasks with the appropriate scaffolds, they rely on the teacher less, and this fosters student independence. A great scaffold during independent work is to provide students with a rubric, checklist or table tent with specific steps and a think-aloud on how to self-evaluate effort and progress on the task.

Consider using a graphic organizer to prompt students through a series of questions like: "What do I know?" "What have I used to support my progress (e.g. textbooks, peer, notes, Google, etc.)?" and "What do I need to know?"

Teachers should also ask questions to help students think about their metacognitive processes, while avoiding leading questions. Consider asking, "What were you thinking when ...?" "Explain what you mean ..." and "What do you think will happen?" Avoid leading questions like, "Do you think George Washington was the first president?" "What if we estimate the number by rounding up?" and "Does that sound good?"

The process of teaching a student to evaluate effort and success on a task or process should be explicitly modeled. Model the process by creating a checklist for students to self-monitor and complete before they have finished the task. Some sample prompts: "Have I finished?" "How do I know I finished?" "What strategies did I utilize?" "What did I learn?"

By supporting students with the ability to self-monitor and evaluate key skills and processes we help students engage in behaviors such as attending, participating, following directions, organizing, managing materials and time, and completing assignments—behaviors associated with increased academic and social performance across a variety of subjects and school levels.

Check out the video below from the Teacher Channel to see a teacher structure academic conversation with kindergarteners that promotes independence.