The Pros and Cons of Co-Teaching

What is Team Teaching?

Team teaching is an advanced method of co-teaching that requires both teachers to have compatible personality and teaching styles.  It is also important that both teachers feel competent in the subject area.

There are many ways to use team teaching in the classroom.  Co-teachers can equally present the content being taught, ask critical thinking questions, play ‘devil’s advocate’ in order to make a point, debate with each other and the students, and take advantage of both teachers’ knowledge of the subject.

It is important, however, that students clearly see no difference in hierarchy between the co-teachers using this approach. Normally, team teaching does not occur unless both teachers are comfortable with each other. Usually they have been together for a while and know the topic equally well.

When Co-Teachers Click

There are exceptions, such as when there are two people that click. This can happen in English or social studies. They’re comfortable with each other. They both read the story, banter off each other, talk about each other, talk about different points, and they share the classroom equally. Sometimes they don’t even have time to plan together, but they can still pull it off. It just depends on the personalities, but usually this situation occurs when teachers are very comfortable with each other and both know the content equally well.

It can be fun when you have reached the level where you can truly team teach. You play off one another, team with one another, and support each other. It can be amazing to watch an expert team managing the behavior and the instruction and the activities all at once. When the two teachers really jell, and they both know the subject well, team teaching is something to behold.

The Pros and Cons of Co-Teaching

Benefits of Team Teaching

  • Creates effective, fun learning
  • Teachers can use their knowledge effectively together
  • Keeps co-teacher involved in class
  • Allows for shared ideas including enrichment and differentiation
  • Breaks up the monotony of one person doing all instruction
  • Creates many spontaneous teachable moments

Challenges of Team Teaching

  • Co-teachers must click, not conflict
  • Requires supporting and carrying 100 percent of the load by both teachers
  • Both teachers may have to be equally involved in the planning, grading, correcting, and supporting in the classroom
  • Unless they are at the stage where they are finishing each other’s sentences, planning may take a long time

 


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6 Responses to The Pros and Cons of Co-Teaching

  1. Carol Chapman Allen November 27, 2011 at 7:27 pm #

    Time,
    How do we find the TIME to plan when everyone is doing more for less? I teach my 3 classes then co teach 4 other classes. I need time to plan with my co-teachers :(
    I walk with one teacher during her 15 minute lunch duty, stop in when I have a conference (which is not often due to ARD meetings and other Sp Ed obligations ) stay after school for shared planning time (when other meetings do not interfere) come early before class and even meet during lunch, when I am not doing tutorials with students or other meetings. There seems to a shortage of time, all around — any ideas? And I have very small classes, nothing the load like my co – teachers have.
    Oh and we text and email ideas and lesson plans.

  2. Susan Fitzell January 15, 2012 at 10:26 pm #

    Wow Carol! I’m impressed at the efforts you are making to plan together! Kudos to you! There are only two other options that I can offer that may help. Hopefully, some others comment and share their solutions.

    Many co-teach pairs are telling me that they are planning “in the cloud” using tools like “Google Documents”, “Edmodo” http://www.edmodo.com/, “Planbookedu” http://planbookedu.com/ and Dropox.com. I use both Google Documents and Drobox and find them excellent for working on projects, plans, and PowerPoints with my manager who is 2000 miles away and often on a very different schedule. We recently co-taught a session at the Christa McAuliffe Technology Conference and we did all our planning with Dropbox.

    The other option is to use an Acceleration Center a couple times a week for a small chunk of the class. Because you and your co-teacher create it ahead of time, (I recommend a time when school is not in session) it does not require on-going planning. This option provides a little reprieve during those weeks when work is overwhelming. Here are some links with information about Fitzell Acceleration Centers http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nek4p3Fol0A, and http://responsetointerventiononline.com/2011/11/using-fitzell-acceleration-centers-as-an-rti-strategy/. Hopefully, these links come through. I don’t know how to put them in correctly in a comment field.

    Anyone else have ideas for planning time?

    Susan Fitzell

  3. Beth July 16, 2013 at 11:10 am #

    May I use your excerpt and tailor your ideas for co directors of music? I will give you full credit to the music directors I’ll address in a workshop. Your description of co-teaching is a perfect fit. Thanks, beth

    • Susan Gingras Fitzell M.Ed., CSP July 17, 2013 at 3:23 pm #

      Hi Beth! Feel free to pass this on to anyone you’d like. And thanks! Would you mind sharing a copy of your final article with me? Also, if you would like, I’ll feature it on co-teaching online and would love the option of including it in my newsletter.
      Thanks,
      Susan

  4. Amy June 12, 2014 at 7:58 am #

    I’ve been reading your articles. My friend and I co-teach fifth grade, having a large folding door that separates our classroom. We’ve had the door open now for 8.5 years and love what we do. We’ve had great results, decent test scores, and lots of positive parent feedback. Now we have a new administrator who wants to shut our doors forever. We are heartbroken. Do you have any advice for us to try and change his mind? He’s spent NO time in our classroom and has no appreciation for what we do. He just likes to feel in charge. (He also thinks children should be reading at their frustration level 100% of the time, but that’s another story…) Help!

  5. Jean June 12, 2014 at 6:53 pm #

    A parents perspective: Are there parents of students who you have bonded with, and have a relationship with? Can you ask them to advocate on your behalf? You sound like a couple of amazing teachers. We have been blessed with some just like you. I would go to hell and back for those teachers – and certainly would not have an issue sitting down with an administrator to discuss why that classroom works so well. If only he would see it through for a year or two and watch the results himself. Best wishes to you!

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