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How can we create a support program for teachers who are using the co-teaching model?

Co-teaching has become more and more popular within schools. Co-teaching is two or more people sharing the responsibility of teaching the whole class or groups. The planning, evaluation and instruction are all split between the people. Many problems can arise while co-teaching. Some problems are: Who is responsible for the students in the classroom? Who gives grades? How do we grade? Whose classroom management rules do we use? What space do I get? What do we tell the students that they have two teachers? What do we tell the parents? How can we get time to co-plan?

Sometimes there can be disagreements on the above questions. Conflicting or varying personalities can negatively affect the room and the student's learning.

How can we create a support program for teachers who are using the co-teaching model? How can we address and help solve co-teaching challenges?

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  • May 4 2014: From my experiences with co- teaching and observing co- teachers it is either a happy marriage or ends with a horrible divorce. Basically, I feel co-teaching when done successfully is wonderful because students benefit from seeing two role models working to reach a common goal which is their students' success. In addition, in order to provide support schools need to help teachers find a common ground such as similarities they can work with in the classroom. Equal and shared responsibilities need to be addressed. If teachers respect and listen to each other then co - teaching can be a success and students will have two teachers bringing their individual strengths to help the children succeed. There should be programs on co- teaching but it is also up to the teachers to be respectful of one another.
    • May 6 2014: I agree with you. It is up to the teacher's to be respectful and professional, but a year to work so closely with one another can be a very long year if you are not getting along. I think that the school's need to be proactive. If a teacher is new to co-teaching, they should attend workshops prior to the start of the school year. They could also divvy up the responsibilities and submit an informal plan of how they are going to manage their room. I believe this all needs to be discussed prior to entering the room so that everyone knows what is expected of them.
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    May 4 2014: Parents are co-teachers, use that model. Kids know which of their parents will make the final decisions on what. It's not the kids that have the problem, it is the teachers, just like in marriage.

    "It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages"- Friedrich Nietzsche

    Just like a marriage the co-teachers must have some kind of friendship in order to co-exist, and friendship usually comes from understanding and compassion.
    • May 6 2014: Some marriages do face turmoil and some do need counseling. Do we need to provide our teachers with support when things go wrong, or should our focus be proactive; mandating workshops prior to the relationship teaching them how to work together?
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        May 6 2014: Education is never finished so I believe our educators should always be in a state of learning. You can't teach what you don't know and with the pace at which knowledge is evolving teachers especially need to keep up. The days of a couple years of education and then teaching that for the next 40 years are long gone, I hope. My personal belief is teachers should not come from college where all they know is what they read in a book written by a corporation, they should come from business where they can teach what they have experience at (you know, the real world). Hence the (not without some merit) saying "if you can't do it, teach it".
        • May 6 2014: I agree that teachers should always be learning. It is a profession in which we must always be on top of our game and on top of the trends. But most school don't offer assistance or a learning environment for these teachers to create a successful co-teaching environment. Should teachers be responsible for going out on their own to learn this? Or should the school offer these opportunities?
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        May 6 2014: Personally I agree with Elon Musk, Einstein and Mark Twain that the whole education system needs to be massively overhauled.
        In the meantime a solution might be to give teachers a month off and spend the other two months in re-education for the coming year. However personal incentive is the biggest problem, if the teacher does not have incentive it will not matter what the school offers and if they do have incentive again it will not matter what the school does. Personal incentive has to come from within. By the way money is a result of personal incentive not the other way around.
        • May 6 2014: Absolutely. It is disappointing when teachers go back to school to obtain education in a "easier" subject just to get a bump in Pay. That incentive should be used for teachers to further their education in a field that is appropriate for their profession. They should be spending that time going back to school to learn new trends and new tricks to help grow an environment that is successful for our students to learn in.

          But we cannot force people to go back to school if they don't have the drive. So as administrators, should programs be offered with in the school that assist teachers in these struggling area such as co-teaching?

          -from the teacher that is currently back in school obtaining a degree in literacy and leadership and completing a project in which she reaches out to others :)
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        May 6 2014: You are in a bad situation, like making repairs to the Titanic on the way to the bottom.
        “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new”- Socrates
  • May 8 2014: I think it depends on the teachers and the principal. Given the right combination, it works and if one of the parts is wrong, it will not work.
  • May 3 2014: Hi,Dear Katielynn,co-teaching is urgent in education,because more and more work needed people to have cooperatoin skills to do together.But it seems the selecting measurements not consider so much about it if we just focus on exam grades.We will face the big challenge of cooperation ability in our teaching,I think it needs to teach from kindergarden or primary school...

    We need to do it one generation to on and on...
    • May 3 2014: Do you think that teachers should have an option to co-teach? Maybe this will eliminate negative feelings or conflict of personalities? I agree, it is crucial and necessary to have collaborative classrooms.
  • May 2 2014: "Good cop/bad cop." Teaching teacher/invigilating teacher.
    • May 2 2014: Is that a healthy relationship to be displaying to our students? Or do we want to show them two people as equals working together?
      • May 2 2014: Role models? Female teacher/male teacher? Older female/younger male? Older male/younger female?
        • May 2 2014: Just two people being able to work together cooperatively for a common goal. Doesn't matter what two people, if they can not work successfully together and the school is not giving them the tools to create a more beneficial environment, won't the students suffer most?
      • May 2 2014: If two or more! teachers work well together then put their classes together, if the room is big enough, else one teacher per class. What type of lessons do teachers tend to work well together? Physical? Sex education? Artistic?
        • May 2 2014: There aren't more students in the room because of co-teaching. Same class size, just two teachers. I believe when they make the statement that they are more successful, it is for the core subjects (math, English, Social Studies, and Science).
      • May 2 2014: Do teachers teach better when there are kids with special needs present? I bet they do! Is that why co-teaching and kids with special needs are more compatible?
        • May 2 2014: I believe that it is more along the lines of an extra teacher in the room to pull students for small groups. In my experiences, there is a whole group lesson and then the special education teacher will pull kids for either reteach or for more individualized approaches.

          I do not think that there is "better" teaching going on, since I have seen both; successful and unsuccessful co-teaching special education classes. I have also seen both for general classrooms.

          I actually think teachers tend to have more difficulties with special education classrooms. There is usually a wide range of challenges; hence why these students are put in that classroom.
      • May 2 2014: Pay them more.
    • May 2 2014: Mr. Patel, I do agree that something that may me too complex needs time and growth before it is implemented. But my question is, what can we offer to the teachers who may be stuck in this situation? Can't we try support programs before eliminating these jobs?
  • May 2 2014: For students with special needs, being out into the general education classroom may be the least restrictive environment. Research studies have shown that co-teaching can be very effective for students with mild special needs. Co-teaching can be a successful way to teach all of the students in a classroom environment. But, like everything else, there can be a downfall. Teachers who are uniformed of unfamiliar with how to implement this model will not be able to assist there students accordingly. Also, once put together, there may be a fight for dominance in the class or a conflict of personalities, strategies and beliefs.
  • May 2 2014: Here it goes. To get idea. Implement idea; Then find problem with its working. Then create monitoring how it works. Then comes advisory Then comes see how new things work. It never ends. If it works fine If it do not , dump it.
    • May 2 2014: "If it aint broke then don't fix it."
      • May 2 2014: If it is broke, should schools have mandatory support groups? How can we fix disagreements or clashing personalities in the classroom? Who is responsible?
      • May 2 2014: Co-teaching as shown to be beneficial for students with special needs. They are able to work with in the classroom, but are given additional support. At times, co-teaching proves to be successful. However, there are also many challenges and fears that go along with co-teaching. Teachers who are not familiar with the model for that you're not had any support, have a lot of difficulties assisting their students. There can also be clashing personalities, beliefs and strategies between the two teachers. Should we stop something that has proven to be very successful just because it has some flaws?
        • May 2 2014: Kramer:

          Your point is well taken. There are situations where idea is well suited in the circumscribed way. Other wise if it i too complex do not venture where venue is large