Selecting the Right Co-teaching Format

Selecting which co-teaching format to implement may be influenced by a variety of factors, including:

Consider the scenarios below and decide which co-teaching format best fits each. Also decide how you would explain your selection to a co-teacher. (Multiple formats may fit a scenario; each will have some advantages and disadvantages.) The 5 co-teaching formats are

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


Which Format Would You Select?


1. Pre-algebra Lesson (8th grade)

Students will use a set of numbers to create math problems that meet a set of criteria. In the first activity, students must use three of the four digits 2, 3, 5, & 8 to create and solve a problem that finds a product between 150 & 200. (Source: Math for America Lesson Plans)


2. Character Charting Lesson

Character Perspective Charting helps students to develop fuller and more appropriate conceptualizations of stories. Charting a story from two points of view allows a greater appreciation and understanding as well as awareness of the interconnections of the themes and story structure. In this activity, students will complete a character chart for Huck and Jim from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The class consists of 24 students, is inclusive, and is co-taught by a geneal educator and a special educator.


Drawing of two teachers3. Character Conflict Lesson *

Throughout the lesson, one co-teacher tries to expand on what the other has forgotten to tell students. For example, when one says to the students "when the main character has a conflict with another character in the book, it is called 'character vs character'," the co-teacher says "why did you put 'character vs. character' and not 'character vs. man'?". The first responds: "This was to show that characters aren't always human." The two teachers talk to each other out loud so that the students can feel as though they are listening in on a conversation between the two. This is also a way to make it seem as though one of the students could have asked the question.


4. Reading Lesson *

The teacher has a scripted reading lesson plan she has developed. She asks the teaching assistant to take half of the class to the back of the room while she works with half in the front. Both teachers have the same objectives and materials to work from. They both spend a full 30 minutes instructing. Each is in charge of their own group, which has quite a few students.


5. Scaffolding a Science Lesson *

The science lesson on weather systems has an activity that asks students to fill in the blanks; one teacher models the activity with an example. The students are treated fairly and those that seem to lag behind are approached by a second teacher so that she can see what they are doing and whether they can answer the questions aloud. All students are instructed and noticed. Direct and explicit instruction is used, plus there is a lot of scaffolding by the second teacher for the students who were not sure of the correct answers to questions.


6. Writing Lesson *

One co-teacher explains that she will be taking 3 students to her own classroom for a small group activity. The remaining co-teacher and the special education student teacher stay in the classroom with the large group of kids. The large group works on writing a persuasive essay. (The student teacher does not know what the small group works on.) When the 3 students come back into the room they are given a simplified persuasive writing activity; they are told to think of something that impacts them and that they want to convince someone to change. They just have to write down the topic and hand it in before lunch.


7. Reading Remediation *

A student teacher and one co-teacher work with a small group. The activity is not based on what the students had been doing in the classroom (reading their own books); the small group does not focus on a book and talk about it together. Instead, the students focus on syllable types and patterns in different words like "fish and crash". These students' different learning disabilities are evident.


8. Co-teaching authority issue *

At times, students confuse one co-teacher, the special educator, with a teacher’s assistant. The students see her as something less than their general education teacher, because it is a collaborative classroom and the special educator has to attend to other duties at the school (e.g., assessments, IEP meetings, etc.). The general educator by comparison is in the classroom a majority of the time. The special educator still attends to her instructional role, but often not as actively. For example, the general educator talks more while the special educator just speaks infrequently or only to one student at a time.


* Scenarios adapted from pre-student teacher "Reflective Journals" from the Curry School's Teacher Education program.