What is Co-operative Teaching or Co-teaching?

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The process of co-operative teaching helps you give due attention to students with special needs.A situation in a classroom where two teachers work on a class together may be called co-operative teaching. This can be used in any classroom, and is often used in classrooms where a teacher collaborates with a special educator.

While both – a general educator and special educator – have their rightful place even as they work together, their responsibilities vary. A general educator is responsible for the content, while the special educator facilitates the learning process.

It is important that we do not view the special educator or the second teacher simply as a ‘helper’ or ‘assistant,’ as their functions are dynamic and essential and is not, in any way, secondary to the primary educator. Instead, the two teachers teach together, i.e. co-teach, in the classroom.

There are various approaches to co-teaching.

  • One teach, one observe

In this approach, one educator teaches in the classroom, while the other sits back and observes the students, drawing specific observations and analysing their behavior.

  • One teach, one assist

In this approach, one person teaches while the other helps those who need assistance. This is used specifically when one of the educators has specific expertise in that content or to help gifted learners.

  • Parallel teaching

Here, the class is divided into two groups and each educator handles one group, teaching the same content to both groups. This approach is used when a lower adult-student ratio is preferred. It may also be used to encourage student discussion.

  • Station teaching

In this approach, the educators divide the content between themselves and students sit with one educator before moving to the other. A third station may be formed where the student can work independently.

  • Alternative teaching

In this method, students who need extra attention are put into a smaller group that is handled by one of the teachers separately while the other works with the bigger group.

  • Team teaching

Here, both educators work together, teaching the same content at the same time, filling in each other’s gaps. This is also called tag team teaching. This approach is very complex but can be satisfying to both the educators.

In order to select the approach that is ideal for your classroom, we have to consider four crucial factors.

Student characteristics: We need to consider the behavior of the students. If students have a low attention span, then that needs to be taken into consideration. If students need extra motivation in order to learn better, then an approach that suits that need should be considered.

Teacher characteristics: The teaching style and other characteristics of teachers should be considering while choosing an approach. It is always better to ensure that the co-teachers get along with each other.

Curriculum: The curriculum needs to be considered while making a decision on the approach. Different subjects demand a different style of teaching. Hence the approach we take would differ based on the content.

Other situational considerations: Due consideration needs to be given to factors that would affect the students’ learning process. Sound and space are examples of two factors that need to be considering before making a decision on co-teaching.

The following pointers may be useful to sustain a successful co-teaching experience in the classroom:

Establish Rapport: Building a relationship with the co-teacher can go a long way in ensuring that you both are on the same page and understand each other. Connecting with the other teacher on a personal level can help you both have better chemistry. This would help make the students more comfortable.

Understanding teaching styles: Before venturing into a co-teaching session, it is helpful if you are able to understand your teaching style and as well as the teaching style of your co-teacher. This would help you plan your session together, ensuring that each person handles those aspects that they are comfortable with.

Identifying strengths and weaknesses: It is also helpful to know what you are good at and what your weakness are. Comparing honest notes with the other teacher would help you and your co-teacher play according to both your strengths and complement each other.

Formulate a plan of action: While planning your lessons with your co-teacher, it is important that you function as a unified team. This goes a long way to ensure that the efforts taken are coordinated and united.

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Discuss Here: How do you use co-operative teaching to enhance the learning process in your classroom?

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