Collaborative Teaching

Workshop Series 4 of 5


Heather Briles, Larry Thompson and Amanda Wakely (Team B)
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Collaborative Teaching

Collaborative teaching (Co-teaching) means providing special education in regular education classrooms. It is a model of teaching that requires collaboration and communication among members of a team to meet the needs of all students. Co-teaching usually includes two educational professionals working together to teach a group of learners.

Models of collaborative teaching:

  • One teacher, one supporter- one teacher that has the primary responsibility for planning and instruction, and the support teacher roams the classroom helping students individually. This model can also be useful for the support to record student observations useful to the student's IEP or FBA.
  • Parallel Teaching- teachers plan jointly and then the class is split in half for each teacher to work on same information with individuals in smaller groups.
  • Alternative Teaching- means that one manages most of the class, while the other teacher works with a small group in or outside of the classroom.
  • Station Teaching- means both teachers divide assignment instructions and both have the responsibility of teaching their part of the lesson. Classrooms are divided into different stations and teacher and students work at a particular station during class times.
  • Team teaching- means both teachers plan and share teaching instruction with the students.

Examples of collaborative teaching:

  1. Special and general educators
  2. Social worker and a special educator
  3. Two general education teachers
  4. Paraprofessional and special or general educator
  5. Speech therapist and a special educator or general educator

Benefits to students:

  • One-on-one teaching- If a student needs help, the support teacher can assist the student while the other teacher continues the lesson. Collaborative teaching can help with better differentiation by level.
  • Smaller group teaching- The teachers can break the students into smaller groups to help them work on targeted areas of need.
  • Read aloud – The assistant can read to the student if needed or required by the IEP, without interrupting the other students or teacher.
  • Separate setting- The assistant can take the student/students who require separate settings for tests or reading somewhere else while the teacher continues to teach the class.
  • Behavioral issues- If an issue arises, the students can continue on with the class and the other teacher can mediate the situation. This keeps the students on track and focused on the main teacher and not the behavior.
  • Special needs- It also helps to have the other teacher or assistant so that the students with special needs have someone who understands their disability. This helps both teachers and the students. The students get the attention they need to be successful in an inclusive classroom, and the teachers get the added support they need to teach without having to stop class instruction to focus on one student.
Some additional student benefits include:
  • Multiple perspectives on content
  • Teachers model respect, teamwork and cooperation
  • Differentiation with same material
  • Reduction in negative stigma of students with special needs

Benefits to educators:

  • Shared responsibility with planning, instruction, classroom management
  • Allows for more effective instruction with minimal interruptions; helps with classroom management, behavior control, social situations
  • Opportunity to use each teacher’s strengths and conceal their weaknesses through planning, instruction, content material, management, etc. (i.e. teacher with stronger delivery instructs while other teacher supports students)
  • Differentiated instruction by level more effective with aide of another teacher (i.e. small groups and simultaneous instruction)
  • Teachers learn from each other; different experience, perspective, language (general education vs. special education)
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