Co-teaching is becoming quite common in schools as teachers and administrators now seem to better appreciate the value of having two professionals share responsibility for instruction.
Instructional collaboration was first introduced into the educational lexicon in the 1970s when mainstreaming became the widely-adopted approach for integrating special needs students into the general education classroom. This demanded special educators to try out different teaming approaches.
The earliest research conducted during those days supported the idea that students with disabilities benefited a lot more from teachers collaborative efforts towards making the curriculum more accessible to all students.
In the years that have since followed, co-teaching has gone beyond the initial special education-general education focus to include all aspects of the school environment.
As the reception towards co-teaching has improved in schools over the years, education programs targeted at teachers have also adapted collaborative approaches for effective teacher training. These days, teacher preparation programs are conscious of the advantages of developing the student teaching experience from a traditional model that shifted classroom control from the cooperating teacher and the student teacher to one where both cooperating teacher and student teacher shoulder the responsibility of educating the student.
In today’s classrooms, focus is now on inclusion, evidenced-based instruction, diversity, accountability, continuous assessment, and differentiation. To cater to these demands, many teachers are now collaborating for all or parts of their day.
In a situation where a student teacher joins the classroom of two co-teachers, it becomes a case of adding yet another collaborator into the mix. Where discussions on the subject of collaboration used to revolve around “the power of two,” it’s more like “the power of two or more” these days.
Advantages of Co-Teaching
The following positives have been reported by many educators who have participated in co-teaching arrangements as benefits which make the incorporation of co-teaching a rational move for most schools.
- Increased Adult Attention To Students
Since co-teaching brings two or more teachers together in a collaborative effort, it counts down on the number of students each teacher has to cater for. Co-taught lessons can reduce the teacher-student ratio and generally improve learning outcomes and knowledge impartation on the part of the students and teachers respectively. The lesser the number of students a teacher has to handle, the greater the impact of the lessons and vice-versa.
- Shared Expertise Among Two Or More Teachers
Co-teaching does come with the advantage of having different individuals with expertise in different areas coming together for the benefit of the students. As the educational field is a broad one with diverse areas of interest, having two or more persons take up their areas of strength is a win-win for the student.
- Shared Responsibility For Instruction And Management
When instruction and management is the responsibility of two or more capable persons, a lot more is offered to the students as no room is left to burnouts that are common with having to do too much work on a large number of students.