Isn’t it Distracting for the Students?

Flip Flop Teaching

Parallel Teaching

I’m often asked how it is possible for two teachers to co-teach in the same room at the same time without distracting students. In all honesty, in all my years of coaching co-teachers, I’ve never seen students get distracted by parallel teaching. Rather, it’s the teachers who get distracted. This is especially true if one of the co-teachers is a control freak who is too concerned about what the other teacher is saying to focus on her half of the class. I make that statement with compassion and understanding. It’s so difficult to let go, especially when you care about your students and their success.

Parallel Teaching

Let’s look at parallel teaching. What is it? How do we do it? This approach allows teachers to split the class in half, with each teacher co-teaching one half.  The class can be split up according to learning profile, for behavior management (with students who feed off each other separated), or randomly.

With this approach, group size is smaller, allowing greater supervision by the co-teacher. While co-teachers are teaching the same information with this approach, working with a smaller group allows them to identify students who may be having difficulty understanding. In a larger class setting, identifying these students is much more difficult.

Parallel Teaching: Benefits

  • Co-planning – Two heads are better than one.
  • Allows teachers to work with smaller groups.
  • Each co-teacher has the comfort level of working separately to teach the same lesson.
  • Can separate students who feed off each other.
  • Two teachers means two different teaching styles which, in turn, can reach a larger range of learning styles

Parallel Teaching: Challenges

  • Requires co-planning time.
  • Both co-teachers need to be competent in the content.
  • The pace of the lesson must be the same.
  • There must be enough flexible space in the classroom.
  • The noise level must be controlled.

So, how might you and your co-teacher use parallel teaching to your advantage?


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