The Missouri Reader Vol. 43, Issue 2 - Page 48

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Co-planning. As described by Mageria, et al, (2006), “co-teachers need to work on the same goals and always remember to prioritize the needs of the students above anything else” (p. 6). The successes and challenges of co-teaching, as well as the successes from students, need to be communicated with each other (Fontana, 2005). Especially during the first year of implementation of the co-teaching model for any new pair, co-planning time is important.

For successful implementation of any co-teaching model, time must be spent planning between the general education teacher and the interventionist (Magiera, et al, 2006; Woodward & Talbert-Johnson, 2009). Teachers need to plan for the type of co-teaching model that will be implemented, the role each teacher will take in the class, classroom management styles, and how discipline will be handled within the classroom (Isherwood & Barger-Anderson, 2008). If possible, finding a time throughout the school day when both teachers would be available to co-plan is most beneficial to both teachers (Brendle & Piazza, 2017; Magiera, et al., 2006). Another consideration is planning which teacher will create the lesson plans, make copies for lessons, or complete grading so that one teacher does not feel all the responsibilities fall on their shoulders (Cook & Friend, 1995).

Communication forms, such as meeting schedules and agendas, as well as lesson plan forms can help to keep both teachers informed and on the same page (Faraclas, 2018). When time is short, using online forms of communication such as Google Forms, Skype, or email may be beneficial (Keeley, Brown, & Knapp, 2017

It is also important to remember once teachers have begun co-teaching, effective communication must continue. Communication will need to be an on-going process in order to best meet the needs of the students and make co-teaching a success (Fontana, 2005). Communication of the successes and failures of co-teaching and self-reflection of strategies implemented during co-planning is valuable (Hurd & Weilbacher, 2017

Co-teaching Models

Once the co-teaching teams have been identified, choosing the co-teaching model is the next step. Co-teaching allows for more flexible groupings within the classroom and more opportunities for collaboration between the two teachers. Teachers are also able to use each other as a resource and learn from each other (Woodward & Talbert-Johnson, 2009). Co-teaching can be presented within the classroom in many different ways. Cook and Friend (1995) identified five different types of co-teaching models that can be successfully implemented within the classroom. Those models are one teach/one assist, parallel teaching, alternative teaching, station teaching, and teaming. When deciding which model to implement, many considerations must be studied. Regardless of which model is chosen, research has shown that co-teaching can positively impact the academic performance of all students (Fontana, 2005; Marston, 1996; Pisheh et al., 2017).

One teach/one assist. The one teach/one assist model is the most commonly implemented co-teaching model because teachers find it the easiest model to implement (Fontana, 2005; Magiera, et al., 2006). One teach/one assist is different from the other co-teaching models, because during the one teach/one assist approach, there is a clear lead teacher in the classroom, and the other teacher is moving around the room helping students with the lesson the lead teacher is presenting (Cook & Friend, 1999). One teach/one assist is beneficial for students with attention issues, because it provides students with focus and attention issues the opportunity to receive the same lesson, the same way as other students, but it allows for another teacher to help keep that student and othersfocused and on-task (Turan & Bayer, 2017). However, when implementing one teach/one assist, it is likely that teachers may feel unneeded, or like a classroom support, instead of a teacher (Keeley, Brown, and Knapp, 2017). Even though teachers may feel this way, research has shown students still felt this model added value to their own learning (Keeley, Brown, and Knapp, 2017). The one teach/one assist model also does not require as much co-planning time together as other models since in this model one teacher is usually responsible for delivering all the content.

Parallel teaching. Parallel teaching is a co-teaching model that helps to decrease the student to teacher ratio within the classroom while presenting the same content just to two smaller groups within the classroom (Cook & Friend, 1995). When using parallel teaching, teachers closely plan and then implement the same lesson in the exact same way to smaller groups within the same physical space. Teachers in a parallel taught classroom have interchangeable rolls with no defined lead teacher. Both teachers present information and teach equally in the classroom. Parallel teaching is often used during hands-on activities, peer interactions, and responding aloud (Cook & Friend, 1995; Embury & Kroeger, 2012). One drawback to parallel teaching is the noise level in the classroom which could be distracting to both the teacher and other students (Carty & Farrell, 2018). Co-planning time is also increased since the goal is to deliver the same exact lesson just in smaller groups (Embury & Kroeger, 2012).

Alternative teaching. Alternative teaching is also a co-teaching model which helps to decrease the student to teacher ratio and allows teachers to more adequately address the needs of all students in the classroom (Keeley, Brown, & Knapp, 2017). In this model, a teacher will take a small group (3-8 students) and teach a separate supporting lesson. The other teacher would be teaching a related lesson to the whole group. This type of co-teaching model is often used with the pre-teach or re-teach approach in order to support struggling students because it allows for a smaller group. However, this could also be used as an enrichment group if that is what is best based on the dynamics of the class (Cook & Friend, 1995). Teachers also feel this co-teaching model helps with “student behavior, student confidence, and teacher authority” (Keeley, Brown, & Knapp, 2017, p. 533).

One consideration for using this model is alternative teaching could distinguish to the students within the classroom which students are receiving separate instruction (Cook & Friend, 1995). To combat this, Carty and Farrell (2018) tried letting students chose whether they would join the alternative group or not. However, the students who need the alternative grouping did not choose that group and instead stayed in the whole group lesson (Carty & Farrell, 2018). Another option to this is to have a private conversation ahead of time with the student so they understand why choosing the alternative teaching group would be best for them. Another idea would be to move the group in close proximity to the student in need

Station teaching. Station teaching also allows the teacher to student ratio to decrease. It also allows for more differentiated instruction within the classroom. In station teaching, teachers split the content into two to three segments and then present different content in address the needs of the students more accurately (Cook & Friend, 1995). Teachers have found this model to be effective though because of the ability to differentiate instruction and address students’ needs (Carty & Farrell, 2018).