Collaborative Teaching 101

How to reach the benefits of co-teaching

What Is Collaborative Teaching

Collaborative (or co-teaching) brings a general and special educator together into one classroom. Teachers share responsibilities of planning, teaching, and evaluating in order to enhance the overall learning environment. This model works to meet the needs of diverse students by having teachers work together to differentiate the general education curriculum.

Benefits of Working Together

Teachers "report increased feelings of worth, renewal, partnership, and creativity" when affectively collaborating.

Students are the primary beneficiaries of this process. Special education student are better integrated into the general curriculum and teachers are able to differentiate instruction and modify the curriculum to incorporate student IEP goals. All learners are better accommodated through mutual planning and class design. Accommodations and modifications can be made to the curriculum according to individuals' needs without compromising the course integrity.

The stages of co-teaching relationships

A collaborative relationship can be broken into eight components: interpersonal communication, physical arrangement, familiarity with the curriculum, curriculum goals and modification, instructional planning , instructional presentation, classroom management, and assessment. Each of these components moves through three developmental stages independently.

During the Beginning Stage, special education teachers are often seen teaching a small group within a general education classroom. The co-teachers communication is guarded and awkward. This stage can be frustrating and difficult for many pairs to get through. There is not much benefit to the teachers or students until co-teachers move past this barrier stage.

During the Compromising Stage, teachers improve their communication skills and become more comfortable and trusting of one another. However, special educators can often take a back seat in the classroom. Students benefit for the open and honest communication that takes place and is necessary to move forward to the final stage.

The Collaborating Stage is the gold standard for co-teachers. This is when the benefits of collaboration can really take affect. Teacher planning pays off during lessons where they move fluidly throughout the classroom addressing the needs of their students. It is often hard to tell which is the general or special educator in a truly collaborative classroom.

Why all teachers should take this course

This class will focus on how to quickly and affectively move through the stages of co-teaching in order to maximize the benefits students will receive. During the course, the eight key components of collaboration will be addressed and best practices will be suggested for each element.

Educators taking this course will learn about the Coteaching Rating Scale and how it can be of service when improving a collaborative setting.

Administrators and supervisors of collaborative classrooms, who may worry about the costs of the practice, will be better able to examine the advantages of the model and provide co-teachers support in their classroom.

This class will prepare educators to implement this proven practice in their classroom successfully.

By: Kathryn Bodkins and Mackenzie Turbeville