5 Co-teaching Formats

While different teachers implement co-teaching somewhat differently to meet the needs of their integrated instructional styles, it is generally agreed that there are five formats that cover the majority of co-teaching situations. More recently, some experts refer to 6 formats based on the division of the "One Teach/One Support" model into two specific models: "One Teach/ One Observe" and "One Teach/One Assist". (See the Power of Two co-teaching training materials by Dr. Marilyn Friend.)

For instruction to be considered a co-teaching format, both partners must participate fully in all aspects of instruction. Full participation does not mean doing the same thing all the time: it does mean that each teacher's role is coordinated to contribute to the effectiveness of the lesson. Co-teaching also does not mean that one teacher is always the primary teacher and one is always in a supporting role. Co-teachers shift roles and focus to match the lesson and target student needs.

Review the implementation tips and videos given below to gain an understanding of each co-teaching format. Also, observe the 'What do you notice?' videos to see if you can describe the co-teaching formats. Check your responses with those provided. The five common co-teaching formats are

One Teach/One Support | Station Teaching | Team Teaching | Alternative Teaching | Parallel Teaching

One Teach/One Support

Note: The One Teach/One Support format is sometimes broken into two separate formats: “One Teach/One Observe” and “One Teach/One Assist”.


  • Layout example for One Teach/One SupportOne teacher leads instruction, while the other provides support to students who need additional help or enrichment, gathers observation data, or provides classroom management.
  • Both teachers know the distinct role they are carrying out in the lesson.
  • One Teach/One Support is often used when teaching new material/concepts or when one teacher has greater content expertise than the other.

Caution: If used too often with the same teacher taking the instructional lead, the One Teach/One Support format can lead to students seeing one teacher as the authority over the other teacher.

Here's what you should've noticed - One Teach/One Support (+ Click to expand/ collapse)

  • One teacher leads with whole-class instruction.
  • The support teacher discretely focuses a student on the task.
  • Students are focused on the lead teacher for the instruction.
  • The support teacher also offers clarification and then praises a student.

Station Teaching


  • Layout example for Station TeachingEach teacher works with a small group of children who rotate among various stations to complete the different tasks related to the same instructional content/objective.
  • Station Teaching is an efficient use of time that allows all students to experience multiple related instructional activities.
  • Teachers must communicate to coordinate the tasks and timing at the different stations to support the learning objectives.

Caution: Station Teaching is not used for differentiation purposes as all students participate in all stations.

Here's what you should've noticed - Station Teaching (+ Click to expand/collapse)

  • Each teacher guides the activity at her station.
  • Station teaching tasks are active learning tasks.
  • Station teaching can get noisy as students participate.

* Some video clips used with permission from their creator Cindy Alexander. The format layout graphics were adapted from an image created by Dr. Marilyn Friend.