I am a general education teacher in an inclusive classroom setting.  This means I have a special education teacher push into my classroom for two hours a day.  I love co-teaching!  I’m lucky to have a great relationship with my co-teacher.  Co-teaching can be hard.  It takes time and practice to find what co-teaching models work for both teachers and the students.  There are many different co-teaching models out there.  Throughout my day, I use three different co-teaching models in my classroom.

Station Teaching:

One model we use is called station teaching.  In this model, each teacher is working on a specific skill with a small group of students.  I use this model during readers’ workshop.  I work with two small groups and my co-teacher works with two small groups during an hour period.  While we are each working with a group, the rest of the class is independently reading.  In this co-teaching model, each teacher is responsible for planning and implementing her own lesson.  For example, I might be working on supporting our answers with text-based evidence with my advanced group while my co-teacher is working on phonics skills and sight words with her struggling readers.  This model allows for a lot of differentiated, small group instruction.

Alternative Teaching:

Another model we use in my classroom is alternative teaching.  In this model, one teacher is responsible for teaching the majority of the class while the other teacher is working with a small group of students.  We use this model during our math block.  I am up at the smartboard teaching about eighty percent of the class, while my co-teacher is at the back table working with the remaining students.  This model allows my co-teacher to focus on student IEP goals while also being able to modify the curriculum.  For example, the whole class might be learning five different addition strategies for adding two-digit numbers while the small group of students might be working on mastering one or two of those skills.  Everyone in the class is learning two-digit addition strategies but the curriculum can be modified appropriately for students.

Parallel Teaching:

The third co-teaching model used in my classroom is parallel teaching.  Unfortunately, due to tight schedules, we only use this model once a week.  We call it “Mix It Up Monday” for the students.  In this model, the class is divided in half and each teacher is working on a similar skill.  This model is great because it doesn’t separate students based on ability and it allows for both teachers to work with all the students.  We each plan a twenty-minute reading lesson and then after the twenty minutes, the students rotate to work with the other teacher.  The students love working like this!  They always ask “When will it be ‘Mix It Up Monday’?”

These are just three examples of co-teaching models, that I have found work great in my classroom.  Don’t be afraid to try out different models to see what feels right with your co-teacher and for your students.

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Chrissy Talbot

Chrissy Talbot

Elementary School Teacher

Note: Fresh Ideas for Teaching blog contributors have been compensated for sharing personal teaching experiences on our blog. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer or company.