is a type of co-teaching which takes place in situations where a small number of students require a specialized or remedial attention. One instructor usually deals with the larger group and the other works with the smaller one. In other words, in alternative teaching, the large group completes the planned lesson while the small group either completes an alternative lesson or the same lesson taught at a different level or for a different purpose. This arrangement might take an entire class period, or it might be used for just a few minutes at the beginning or end of a lesson.
2.6.6. Supportive Teaching
In this model of co-teaching, one teacher has the primary responsibility for leading the instruction while the other team member supports instruction by adding questions, clarifying information, prompting students, etc.
The general and special education teacher’s direct instruction to whole group, prompt academic engagement, clarify instructions, collect instructional and behavioral data, and teach and support classroom rules and routines. To maintain parity, these roles must alternate. Each teacher must have opportunities to lead and to support.
2.6.7. One Teach, One Drift
In some cases, the most effective use of two adults in one classroom is to have one person keep primary responsibility for teaching while the other circulates through the room providing unobtrusive assistance to students as needed. Although this approach to co-teaching has value, it is also often over-used, possibly because it makes few demands for change on the part of the teachers. This approach to co-teaching can be used when the lesson lends itself to delivery by one teacher; when one teacher has particular expertise for the lesson; in new co-teaching situations – to get to know each other; and in lessons stressing a process in which student work needs close monitoring.
Overall, the ultimate goal of co-teaching is to meet the educational needs of students. Co-teaching brings together a team of teachers to share all aspects of teaching – planning, instruction and assessment – for an inclusive, heterogeneous group of students in a shared classroom environment. In fact, co-teaching provides a free and appropriate education to all students in a least restrictive environment. In this situation, all children in the classroom are gaining not only an academic education, but an exposure to people who are different from themselves. Many students without physical or educational disabilities would not otherwise be exposed to someone who does have a disability. Another equally important goal of co-teaching is for both teachers in the classroom to be seen as an equal team by the students. There is no separation between the general and the inclusive educators. Both instructors are there to teach and assist anyone who needs help. In short, co-teaching is when two or more people share responsibility for teaching some or all of the students assigned to a classroom. Through this strategy, the teachers share the responsibility for planning, instruction and assessment but in a manner that involves working and planning together as true team partners not two teachers simply sharing a classroom. Co-teaching is not about taking independent turns planning and instructing, but working together to plan, instruct, and assess student progress.
To summary, in an effective co-teaching classroom, a positive, collegial relationship between the two teachers is essential and often takes time and effort to develop. Both educators should assume full responsibility for the education of all students in the classroom, including planning, presentation, classroom management, and evaluation. This can be nurtured by clear expectations from administrators, fostered through the mutual exploration of individual and partnership belief systems, and cultivated through time for reflection. What we can imply from the diversity of co-teaching models is that the basic premise of these models, as Gately (2005) holds, is “two are better than one” (p. 36).
In practice, however, successful co-teaching is not easily attainable because of a number of factors, including lack of professional preparation, poorly defined roles, lack of clear expectations, frustrations with implementation issues (Cook & Friend, 1998), and our backgrounds and personalities (Hohenbrink et al., 1997). They hold that possessing different kind of personalities and cultural backgrounds, co-teachers might face conflicting process in dealing with each others’ interests. Another issue is continued ownership struggles (Wood, 1998). And, as Quarcoo (2005) maintains, some factors may influence the relationship between the roles of co-teachers. For such and other possible reasons, the idea of co-teaching has not fully been incorporated in the current education systems as a fixed and stable method for teaching second or foreign languages and other sciences.
2. 7. Benefits of Co-Teaching
Co-teaching, with its roots in active and ongoing collaboration between general and special educators, promises benefits for students with and without disabilities as well as for general and special education teachers (Walther-Thomas, 1997). Participants in empirical studies have reported benefits for students with disabilities included increased self-confidence, higher academic performance, and improved social skills and peer relationships (Austin, 2001; Walther-Thomas, 1997). Pugach and Wesson (1995) reported that the students in the classrooms they studied believed they had immediate access to their teachers, which allowed them to be more successful. General education students in the classroom did not readily identify students with learning disabilities. This finding indicates co-teaching classrooms may be able to transcend barriers that create permanent classes of higher- and lower-achieving students. Benefits also exist for general education students and students who struggle academically but do not qualify for special education services.
The study by Pugach and Wesson (1995) described co-teaching environments that allowed teachers to create flexible groups to provide improved instruction for general education as well as special education students. Teachers in the study were able to model cooperation and conflict resolution, which fostered better peer relationships among students in the classrooms.
In Walther-Thomas’ (1997) study of co-teaching teams, participants reported low-achieving students in co-taught classrooms achieving better than those in traditional classrooms. Additional benefits for general education students were improved knowledge of strategies and study skills, better social skill development and creation of classroom communities where students felt a sense of belonging.
Research has shown general and special educators benefit from co-teaching classrooms as well (Walther-Thomas, 1997). Co-teachers reported a greater level of teacher efficacy and professional satisfaction they are reaching all students. Co-teachers also believed the experience of working closely with a colleague, though requiring hard work, allowed them to expand their knowledge of and skill in new teaching strategies. In addition, the teachers in Walther-Thomas’ study acknowledged that collaboration across professionals engaged in co-teaching was increasing in their school.
2.7.1. Benefits of Co-teaching for Teachers
In addition to the benefit of working together as a collaborative, co-teaching team to educate all students, the profits teachers gain from experiencing co-teaching include personal and professional growth opportunities and sharing of classroom management duties. Personal and professional growth by teachers in co-teaching arrangements is exemplified when they learn different strategies and techniques from each other.
Partnering with another teacher provides opportunities to gain different perspectives of teaching strategies by opening a collective focus on student learning. Besides providing teachers with a sense of collegiality, co-teaching can provide teachers with a synergy that invigorates them as professionals to try new, innovative strategies and activities to meet the needs of all students in of the diverse student population in a regular education classroom (Friend & Cook, 2007; Hourcade & Bauwens, 2001). A co-teaching arrangement allows teachers to share classroom management duties. Co-teachers are able to assume fewer roles in general because their partners can take on a portion of the roles typically done by one teacher (Bouck, 2007). Consequently, more time can be devoted to meeting the individual needs of diverse learners (Duchardt et al., 1999). Additionally, when co-teaching is successful for the teachers, it sets the stage for all students to benefit from being educated in an inclusive regular education classroom; outcome proponents of co-teaching have theorized through the years (Walther-Thomas, 1997).
2.7.2. Benefits of Co-teaching for Students
The co-teaching service delivery model offers potential benefits for students with disabilities and other low-achieving students (Bauwens & Hourcade, 1997; Kohler-Evans, 2006; Walther-Thomas et al., 1996). A three year study by Walther-Thomas (1997) states that students in an inclusive classroom taught by co-teachers improved their academic learning, improved their social skills, and improved their collaboration skills.
Results from another study indicated that with two teachers in the classroom, the co-teaching service delivery model lowers the teacher-student ratio. Therefore, more