Want to take your co-teaching up another level? Try using the “one teach and one interpret” co-teaching model.

We’re familiar with the “one teach, one observe” method used in many co-teaching situations. And recently I suggested that co-teachers build on this with “one teach, one take notes,” as a good way to internalize the material being taught and to present a good face to external observers, like administrators, who may not immediately perceive the reason why one teacher appears to be simply observing.

One teach, one interpret takes co-teaching to another level. Let’s say one teacher is a content area expert who excels at delivering information through direct teaching. Meantime, the other teacher’s strong suit is in converting textual information, whether orally or by writing it into a visual format.

How would the above example work in the classroom? Visualize this: The content specialist is delivering the information verbally, augmenting it with notes via PowerPoint. At the same time, the other teacher may be drawing a picture on the board—a “snapshot device” that incorporates the first teacher’s concepts into a drawing that looks like a snapshot from a camera.

co-teaching models - one teach one interpreteAnother example is while the subject matter expert is direct teaching the content, the other teacher is dramatizing the information. Imagine how using actions to exemplify the content, or even adding costumes and props to this dramatization, can engage students!

Both teachers can think up any number of implementations: If one teacher knows sign language, he or she could sign specific keywords and phrases and have the students repeat those phrases, and the correlating signs, at certain periods during the lesson. Or, the teachers could convey the objectives being taught using analogies, real-world experiences, stories or any other variation to reinforce the content by reframing it from a slightly different perspective.

Interpreting in a visual way the material being taught provides a new dimension to co-teaching and fully engages both teachers. It can also appeal to the visual-kinesthetic learner.

“One teach, one interpret” does not require extensive content area expertise, nor does it require substantial planning time. It’s very possible that a specialist in the classroom knows little about the content, yet can listen and interpret the content differently for the students, thereby providing instruction that reaches more learners and is increasingly memorable. It also supports the specialist in learning the curriculum. That’s a win-win for everybody.

Best Practices in Co-teaching & CollaborationExplore even more tips, tools, and resources for collaboration at TheHowofCo-teaching.com!

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