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I had a chance to hear a snippet of a presentation on co-teaching during my time at the 2009 Office of Special Education Project Directors' Conference. Maryland has a co-teaching initiative and was presenting a panel on its approach.
When I think of co-teaching, I think primarily of what Maryland considers a "One Teach, One Assist" model: "One teacher is responsible for teaching. One teacher circulates throughout the classroom monitoring progress and providing assistance as needed." The criticism I have heard of this method is that special education teachers sometimes feel relegated to the role of assistants in the "real" teacher's classroom.
But that's not the only model out there, Maryland state officials said—it's not even the most preferred. Other suggestions include:
- Station teaching: Teachers divide content and students. Each teacher then teaches the content to one group and subsequently repeats the instruction for the other group.
- Parallel teaching: The teachers are both teaching the same information, but they divide the class group and do so simultaneously. This approach alows for increased supervision as well as increasing the opportunity for students to respond to teacher-led instruction.
- Alternative teaching: One teacher takes responsibility for the large group, while the other works with a smaller group for a specific instructional purpose. Maryland recommends that this approach be used sparingly to avoid the perception of a special education "pullout" program within the classroom.
- Team teaching: Both teachers share the delivery and have equally active roles in leading the classroom. This strikes me as a powerful method, but possibly one of the most difficult to deliver. It would seem to require teachers to be very much in sync, both in their instructional methods and in their lesson planning.
These models were adapted from work by Marilyn Friend
, who has done much work in promoting co-teaching. Do these alternate methods match up with your own experiences?