Co-teaching is where two teachers work together with groups of students and share the planning, organisation, delivery, and assessment of teaching, as well as the physical space.
Friend, Reising and Cook (2010) suggest there are 5 types of co-teaching;
1. Team teaching
Both teachers are responsible for planning, and they share the teaching of all students. The lessons are taught by both teachers who actively engage in conversation to encourage discussion by students. Both teachers are actively involved in the management of the lesson and discipline. This approach is commonplace and very effective with the classroom teacher and a student teacher or two student teachers working together.
2. Alternative teaching
One teacher manages most of the class while the other teacher works with a small group or individual inside or outside of the classroom. The small group does not have to integrate with the current lesson, e.g. to catch up on a missed lesson, to conduct an assessment or to provide support or challenge work.
3. Parallel teaching
In parallel teaching, the teacher and a student teacher plan jointly but split the classroom in half to teach the same information at the same time.
4. Station Teaching
Both teachers divide the teaching content, and each takes responsibility for planning and teaching part of it. In station teaching, the classroom is divided into various teaching stations where the teacher and student teacher are at particular tables and the other ‘stations’ are run independently by the students or by a Teaching Assistant.
5. Lead and Support
With this model one teacher has the overall responsibility for planning and teaching, while the other teacher moves around the classroom helping individuals and observing particular behaviours.
Beyond teachers in training, co-teaching is not something you will see in many schools because it is expensive. Where two qualified teachers teach together the biggest challenge is to make it work because both teachers have to be seen as equals rather than one teacher being perceived as the teaching assistant.
Co-teaching can work and is ideal for sharing the workload and designing and developing lessons together.