Co-Teaching Instructional Methods

MUE 555: Collaborating with Families and Schools

Instructional Methods

Instructional methods are defined as how instruction occurs. Instruction can occur through “lecture, class discussion, small group discussion, simulation, experiences, or individual projects” (CSN, n.d.). Different instructional methods may be used throughout one lesson. Determining instructional methods for lessons depends on many things including

“the age and developmental level of the students, what the students already know, and what they need to know to succeed with the lesson, the subject-matter content, the objective of the lesson, the available people, time, space and material resources, and the physical setting” (Appalachian State University, n.d.).

For example, in one lesson, there could be a short teacher led lecture, a simulation, and small group discussions that break down what students learned from that stimulation. Including multiple instructional methods into one lesson help create engaging lessons.

Lessons that are co-taught include multiple instructional methods. Co-taught lessons may include an overarching lesson taught by one or both of the teachers, small group activities, jigsaws, and many more instructional methods. Almost any instructional method we have learned about can be implemented into a co-taught classroom!

Instructional methods can be categorized into two major categories. Teacher-led instructional methods and student-centered instructional methods.

Essential Questions

  • What is the difference between co-teaching models and instructional strategies/methods for co-teaching?

  • What are the best co-teaching instructional methods for different models of co-teaching?

  • What are the advantages and disadvantages to different instructional methods/teaching strategies within a variety of co-teaching models?

  • How can you evaluate the impact of instructional methods on co-teaching and inclusive education?

  • How are co-teaching instructional methods different from team teaching instructional methods?

Co-Teaching Models vs. Co-Teaching Instructional Strategies

Co-teaching models include:

  1. Parallel teaching

  2. Alternative teaching,

  3. One teach, one observe

  4. Station teaching

  5. Teaming

  6. One teach, one assist model
Instructional Methods:

Co-teaching Methods do not differ from other education methods we have learned about in our coursework. Co-teachers can use a variety of educational methods in the various models of co-teaching.

Please Note: The terms methods, strategies, and models are used interchangeably in literature and online. For our purpose models are how the classroom would look and strategies or methods are how the content is being delivered.

Co-Teaching Instructional Methods vs. Team Teaching Instructional Methods

It is unlikely there would be a difference in instructional methods between co-teaching and team teaching (Dr. Julie Steuber, personal communication, November 16, 2015). The main difference between co-teaching and team teaching is that co-teaching includes a general education teacher and a special education teacher while team teaching involves two general education teachers (Dr. Julie Steuber, personal communication, November 16, 2015). Both take place in one classroom. In both cases, all students in the classroom are both teachers’ responsibilities.

Teacher-led Methods vs. Student-centered Methods

Educational methods fall under two categories: teacher led and student centered. In other co-teaching settings teacher led methods may be better and in other co-teaching settings student centered methods would be better.

Teacher-led Method Examples:

  • Mini workshop

  • Modeling

  • Gradual release of responsibility

  • Learning centers

  • Conferencing

Student-led Method Examples:

  • Project-based learning

  • Small groups

  • Peer tutoring

Advantages and Disadvantages to Different Instructional Methods


  1. Small groups: Co-teaching allows for smaller instructional groups. Students benefit from more one-to-one learning (Kaplan, 2012).

  2. Modeling: Due to the small groups that are able to form during co-teaching, there are more opportunities for modeling. As a part of co-teaching, there is “stronger modeling during lessons” (Kaplan, 2012).

  3. Graphic Organizers: Using graphic organizers during co-teaching can “provide an outline for note taking or to emphasize relationships” (Conderman and Heiden, 2013, p.158).

  4. Test taking Skills: Co-teaching involves both a special education teacher and a general education teacher in one classroom. One advantage to having both teachers in the classroom is that each teacher can share their expertise. Special educators may be able to share some test taking skills with all students. “Special educators can also offer test-taking skills, study skills, and content area reading strategies to some or all students in the co-taught classroom” (Conderman and Heiden, 2013, p.159).


  1. Peer-tutoring: Although peer tutoring is a valuable instructional method, there is no benefit to co-teaching and using peer tutoring. Studies by Mcduffie, Mastropieri, and Scruggs show that, “ There [is] no interaction between co-teaching and peer tutoring, suggesting that there [is] no value added when peer tutoring was implemented in co-taught settings” (Mcduffie, Mastropieri, and Scruggs, 2009, p. 506).

  2. There are also disadvantages to small groups, mini workshop model and learning centers as instructional methods. It may get too loud for students that have sensory needs. Students may become overwhelmed by the amount of noise in the room if there are many lessons going on at the same time. Students may also have problems focusing.

  3. Teacher led lecture: A co-teaching model that has one teacher lecturing and then the next teacher lecturing back to back. According to an interview with a veteran team teacher, Julie Steuber, each teacher lecturing back to back as a method of team teaching is unsuccessful (Dr. Julie Steuber, personal communication, November 16, 2015).

Evaluating the Impact of Instructional Methods on Co-Teaching and Inclusive Education

There are multiple ways to evaluate the impact of instructional methods on teaching. Informal formative assessments provide a great way to get immediate feedback on the instructional methods. One informal formative assessment in particular is gauging the room to see if students are engaged and attentive. This provides immediate feedback during the lesson.

In an interview with Dr. Julie Steuber, a veteran team teacher, she mentioned that she uses mid-term and end-of-course formative assessments as a check in (personal communication, November 16, 2015). She also uses instructor evaluations (personal communication, November 16, 2015). These can be online or in person, and the person can be anonymous or put their name down (Dr. Julie Steuber, personal communication, November 16, 2015). Dr. Steuber mentions that she likes to ask students to evaluate her teaching methods and recommends asking the students the following questions:

  • Ask about attitudes of the class
  • Ask if there are any questions
  • Ask how I (as the teacher) can better support you (the student)
  • Ask the student how you are doing as a teacher
  • Ask the student what they would like to talk about when you meet

(personal communication, November 16, 2015).

Another way to evaluate the impact of instruction is through assessment. Dr. Patricia Becker used pre-, mid-, and post- assessments as an informal students understood the material and if the instructional strategies needed to be adjusted (personal communication, November 19, 2015). These were not criterion referenced. When Dr. Becker co-taught for Early Childhood, she used anecdotal logs, and carried a clip board around at all times (personal communication, November, 19, 2015). After both her and her co-teacher would meet to discuss what they had written down (personal communication, November 19, 2015). This was one way to evaluate instructional methods. Another way that Dr. Becker evaluated her instructional methods at the Middle school level was to use self-assessment, similar to Dr. Steuber (Dr. Patricia Becker, personal communication, November 19, 2015). For the self-assessment, she would use 'least to most' prompt (personal communication, November 19, 2015). She would also use observations for behavior problems (personal communication, November 19, 2015). These gave her information on not only how students were improving but if the instructional methods used were effective. She would use class assessments, tests, homework, and final grades as well to evaluate her instructional methods (Dr. Patricia Becker, personal communication, November 19, 2015). Lastly she would use the feedback from the co-teacher to evaluate her instructional methods (personal communication, November 19, 2015).

Co-Teaching Models and their Corresponding Instructional Stratagies

It is important to note that the instructional strategies are not every instructional strategy available. There are hundreds of instructional strategies that you can use with co-teaching, all of which you can use in a general education classroom that doesn't have a co-teacher or team teacher. There is no single best instructional strategy, what should be considered is best practice and what works for your class. However, it is very important that both teachers have similar teaching styles and similar teaching philosophies (Dr. Julie Steuber, personal communication, November 16, 2015; Dr. Patricia Becker, personal communication, November 19, 2015).

Parallel Teaching Model

There are a variety of instructional methods that work well for parallel teaching model. Examples of these include, but are not limited to, the mini workshop, jigsaw, modeling, small groups, graphic organizers, and gradual release of responsibility. Since parallel teaching is essentially two classes being taught simultaneously, whatever you would do in your normal class (if you weren't co-teaching or team teaching) would also work in the parallel teaching model. However, it should be noted that if you are doing things that can get noisy, this may distract the other portion of the class, which is why we chose the selections in our examples. Small groups would still be doable, but establishing small group norms, especially in regards to voice level, would be necessary.
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Alternative Teaching Model

Some instructional methods that work well in the alternative teaching model are: conferencing, small groups, and peer tutoring. For these instructional methods, students may benefit from working in a small group with a teacher. Modeling and graphic organizers are also successful in this co-teaching model. Students are able to receive some instruction that is geared more towards their needs if they are in the small group. Graphic organizers may also be filled out in the big group. Peer tutoring may be used in the small group with supervision from the teacher. Lastly, gradual release of responsibility may also be used as a part of the large group or the small group.

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One Teach, One Observe Model

There are many instructional methods that can be used as a part of co-teaching. As a part of the One Teach, One Observe Model some instructional methods that may be implemented include mini workshop, jigsaw, modeling, gradual release of responsibility, small groups, peer tutoring, and graphic organizers. The general education teacher or the special education teacher may be teaching the class the instructional portion of a mini-workshop, helping students jigsaw, modeling to students what they need to do as a part of the lesson, providing students with gradual release of responsibility, asking students to discuss questions in small groups, having students peer tutor each other, or teaching students how to fill out a particular graphic organizer. While the teacher is teaching, the other teacher is observing the students in the classroom. There are many other instructional methods that may be used as a part of the One Teach, One Observe Model, but these are a few that we thought would work well.
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Station Teaching Model

There are different instructional methods that would be successful as a part of station teaching. Station teaching allows for students to receive small group instruction with teachers. Some instructional models that would work well in a station teaching co-teaching model include learning centers, small groups, jigsaw, and mini workshop. Each of these strategies involve small group work that students can complete either on their own or with teacher instruction based on the material. Additionally in the station teaching model, modeling would be a successful instructional method. Graphic organizers would also be successful in the station teaching model. Teachers may be able to spend time with students working on specific graphic organizers that will help them be successful. Finally, gradual release of responsibility would also be a successful instructional method.
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Teaming Model

Teaming is essentially one classroom and two teachers acting as a singular unit, sharing responsibility of the whole class. Since this is the case, any instructional method would work for this co-teaching model. Some examples are mini workshop, jigsaw, modeling, graphic organizers, gradual release of responsibility, and small groups. Because of the unique nature of the teaming model, it is easier to move between teacher-led and student-led instructional methods, as the teachers are working in unison and they aren't splitting up the students. Specifically for early childhood, multi modal and multi sensory teaching methods work really well (Dr. Patricia Becker, personal communication, November 19, 2015). The use of drama and dramatic play, which involves modeling and scripting works well with early childhood education students (Dr. Patricia Becker, personal communication, November 19, 2015).
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One Teach, One Assist Model

In this model, there are many instructional methods that would work. Remember that this model should be used sparingly (Friend & Cook, 2013). However, it does provide some unique opportunities, such as conferencing. While one teacher is teaching, it is much easier to conference with a student or to assist students that need help, leaving the other teacher free to teach the content. In this respect, there aren't very many teaching strategies that would not work well with this model. Additional examples of instructional methods that work well with this co-teaching model include, but are not limited to, mini workshop, jigsaw, modeling, and graphic organizers.
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Examples of Lessons in Co-Teaching

The link provided has multiple lesson examples for co-taught classrooms. This example will provide you with different strategies each teacher is implementing for the example lesson with the corresponding co-teaching model.

Works Cited

2 Teach LLC. (2007). Co-teaching lessons database. Retrieved November 17, 2015, from

Appalachian State University. (n.d.). Instructional methods. Retrieved November 17, 2015, from

Brown University. (n.d.). Student-centered instruction. Retrieved November 16, 2015, from

Conderman, G., & Hedin, L. (2013). Co-Teaching With Strategy Instruction. Intervention in School and Clinic, 49(3), 156-163.

CSN (Ed.). (n.d.). Different instructional methods. Retrieved November 16, 2015, from

Friend, M. P., & Cook, L. (2013). Interactions: Collaboration skills for school professionals (7th ed.). Boston: Pearson.

Kaplan, M. (2012, May 10). Collaborative Team Teaching: Challenges and Rewards. Retrieved November 16, 2015, from

Mcduffie, K., Mastropieri, M., & Scruggs, T. (2009). Differential Effects of Peer Tutoring in Co-Taught and Non-Co-Taught Classes: Results for Content Learning and Student-Teacher Interactions. Exceptional Children, 75(4), 493-510.

MERLOT PEDAGOGY. (n.d.). Teaching strategies. Retrieved November 16, 2015, from