Co-Teaching Strategies

Co-Teaching Strategies in the Collaborative Classroom.

Why I Chose to Create a Framework to Implement a Co-Teaching Plan.

What prompted an overworked 6th grade math teacher to create a framework to co-teach in the collaborative classroom? First of all, a little about our school. We are a Title I school in which the majority of our students receive free or reduced meals. I knew our school needed help, especially to reduce or eliminate our special education gap. Our data has demonstrated that. I also knew several schools that effectively used co-teaching strategies to reduce or eliminate their special education gap scores. What was their secret? I began a quest to find out.


What I found out was that they used co-teaching strategies. Not just one or two but at least four. And they utilized all faculty in the school. From the content teachers, special education teachers, instructional aides, and even the principal. They all were active facilitators in the classroom. So I knew there were more effective strategies that our school could implement to increase student gap scores but also increase student learning across the board. I also found out that there are more factors that contribute to student learning besides implementing a framework. It involves a lot of work and cooperation.


This was a good idea in theory but how would I convince all stakeholders to buy in to this idea? I had a discussion with my principal about this theory before school started. He loved it but neither of us had a clue on how to implement it. Then, one day I saw a former colleague share a link, on Facebook of all places, to write a proposal for leadership project that would provide a solution that addressed a need at your particular school. Thus, began my journey through CTEPS which not only assisted me with this project but also helped me grow as a teacher leader in my school. I was way outside my comfort zone.

Research

After I was accepted to create and implement my project, the first item on the agenda was research. I discovered that there were many co-teaching strategies out there, but there were six main strategies that were used that proved most effective in student achievement. The six main strategies are listed as follows. The first two strategies are used quite often and are basically the only ones used in a collaborative classroom.


1. One Teach-One Assist: This method usually has the content teacher instructing the students as a class while the special education teacher monitors and assist students that are obviously struggling.


2. One Teach-One Observe: This method involves one teacher who is the main instructor, while the other teacher observes and gathers information on what data needs to be gathered to assess student learning.


3. Parallel Teaching: Each teacher divides the class and teaches simultaneously.


4. Station Teaching: Classes are divided into two or more stations, students rotate the stations while the each teacher repeats the instruction to each group that rotates to each station.


5. Alternative Teaching: One teacher takes responsibility for large group instruction while another takes a smaller group to for more specialized attention.


6. Team Teaching: This is when both or all teachers deliver the instruction as a pair of teachers.


Most co-teaching involves two teachers but after having implemented this plan, I have found that any adult that is in the room, should be a facilitator of learning. Therefore, any of these strategies should include instructional aides or other adults that are frequent in the classroom whether it's a true collaborative class or just a class in which an instructional aid is in the classroom for one particular student. They can contribute as well as be a facilitator in the classroom.

Initial Survey, Results and Professional Development

After I conducted my research, I wanted to survey the teachers to gauge what they knew about co-teaching strategies and their willingness to use them in their classroom. Then I analyzed the data and discovered they weren't as knowledgeable as I had hoped but were willing to learn.


This led to conducting a PD on six co-teaching methods. I used the links above to explain why using a model for co-teaching is beneficial to all students as well as explaining the six co-teaching methods. As we discussed each co-teaching method, I also showed a video that demonstrated each method. It was very eye-opening for me as well as the teachers.


I discovered several factors that I hadn't accounted for such as time for planning due to scheduling conflicts. Because of the way our special education teachers are scheduled, this limits what they can do in the collaborative classroom. We have 3 and 2/5 special education teachers at our school and all of their caseloads are at maximum or beyond capacity. Also, each special education teacher has to collaborate between at least 4 different teachers each day. It doesn't leave a lot of time and energy to use a variety of co-teaching strategies. So we discussed the most efficient methods to plan and implemented strategies among the grade level teachers and their special education collaborators. We all decided co-collaborators would meet regularly to discuss content. The content teachers will write their content, goals and assessments on monthly calendar and the special education teachers can choose a minimum of two different strategies per month that they can co-plan, implement and assess along with the co-collaborating teacher. We all agreed that this was doable for all participants involved and would be most efficient.

Initial Survey and Results

Co-Teaching in a Collaborative Classroom-Station Teaching

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Analyzing Student Data

To analyze student data, I utilized our district assessments. The student data didn't show the progress that I had initially hoped for; however, discussions with students, discussions and anecdotal observations with teachers, and overall grades have showed a slight gain in student understanding and growth. The following link shows the growth with math and language arts in each grade level. Students' identities, of course, are coded for confidentiality purposes.

Survey- Teacher Response to Use of Co-teaching Strategies

After conducting several months of using co-teaching strategies in their perspective classrooms, I conducted a second survey of teachers that used these strategies in the classroom. These are the final results:

In Conclusion:

In conclusion, this was a learning experience! I am now contracted to conduct a small PD for the entire district before the start of school next year. I also plan on asking my principal, curriculum coordinator, special education director, and our RtI specialist permission to conduct a larger school-wide PD before school starts. After careful reflection on my final product, and a lot of trial and error, I realize that this needs to continue. I feel it is necessary to initialize this before school starts by having all people involved in learning, planning, implementing, and assessing strategies and methods in all classrooms. Factors that weren't measurable such as lack of time or miscommunication can be all but eliminated if we all meet before the start of school so that we can establish expectations from the get-go with our students and co-facilitators.

Theresa Williams

I have been teaching at Morgan County Middle school for 17 years. I have taught 6th grade for 16 of those years. I love teaching 6th graders and I love teaching math!