There are as many co-teaching models as there are types of students. That’s important to keep in mind when you’re dealing with a larger class where students are all at different levels. Even if they’re all working on the same assignment, they may need to work at a different pace or have a different learning style.

In a class with students at different levels, the traditional model of station teaching is one way to do it, where you split the class into two different activities to learn the same standards. But co-teachers can also individualize while doing station teaching, or mix other co-teaching models like “one teach, one support.” You can do this when chunking lessons.

co-teaching - chunking lesson plansFor example, Erin and Michelle were two co-teachers that I worked with at a middle school in New Hampshire. They used 20-minute chunks of time for station teaching: The first five minutes of the class or the lesson were a warm-up, while the next 10 to 15 minutes were used for direct instruction with the whole class on the objective for that day. That was accomplished either through team teaching or “one teach, one support.”

During the direct instruction period Erin and Michelle also set behavioral expectations for their students for the next chunk of class time. Students could choose to work alone, or with a partner, or in small groups. They could choose what approach they wanted to take to complete the assignment.

After setting those expectations, they had the students get into their stations. All the students had to complete the assignment, but they had choices on how to do it, and could choose how to accomplish the tasks necessary to meet their goal. Some did the work on their laptops, some wrote it out by hand. Some students read the book while others listened to an audio version. However, they were all working toward the same objective. That was key.

Combining station teaching with individualized work gave students the freedom to work at their own pace, while honoring their learning style. Michelle and Erin rotated through the stations to make sure they supported every student, not just the ones who needed intervention.

This co-teaching model offers a lot of room for customization. Depending on the rapport between you and your co-teacher, and the atmosphere of the classroom, you can vary the station teaching and maximize your opportunities for student success. Whether the student is struggling or has needs, or is high achieving, each one gets the attention they need, and that’s a beautiful thing.

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