Co-teaching Concept and its Effectiveness

                                         Chandani Pant Bhatt* (

What is co-teaching?

Two or more than two teachers teaching together by sharing their responsibilities and experiences is termed as co-teaching. According to Bacharach, Heck and Dank (2004) co-teaching is two teachers working together with groups of students; sharing the planning, organization, delivery, and assessment of instruction, as well as the physical space. Co-teaching includes sharing the responsibilities of planning, instruction, teaching, using materials and taking evaluation of the students. Both teachers are responsible for differentiating the instructional planning and delivery, assessment of student achievement, and classroom management. Co-teachers develop the ability to exchange their ideas and concerns freely as they have their own knowledge, skills, and position. As co-teachers are intended to share the teaching responsibility in a co-teaching classroom, it develops an attitude, in the teachers, of sharing the classroom and students.

Good planning is essential for effective teaching in a co-teaching classroom. Based on my experience of working as a co-teacher, in the middle and high school setting, it is best that both the teachers have the same planning times or can make arrangements to meet before or after school for making the plan to teach together in the classroom. Teachers should meet before hand to discuss and agree on classroom rules, consequences for breaking rules, the classroom format and the class structure. This provides them the time to discuss and decide on the role of the content and curriculum expert, and facilitator. Doing this can support in fulfilling the main goal of education

As a co-teacher, I face a lot of questions about what is co-teaching and how it can it practiced best in a classroom in my staff room. The following presents a list of things to consider which also answer those questions. The list is based on my reading and experience of co-teaching.

Co-teaching is: (based on observation and personal experience):

  • Good participation between two teachers having same professional level.
  • An opportunity to be with the students having different abilities.
  • A challenge to get success in the general education curriculum for the students with different abilities.
  • Tool for the teachers to instruct different students in the classroom.
  • A way to promote the students to get the opportunities to be with learning process in the world.
  • To make the students interact with their friends for learning having the concept of learning by doing to reduce their learning disabilities.
  • A way to promote the teachers to share their knowledge, to have the unity, to do mutual support and to have the feeling of WE.
  • The best chance to be with your colleague to learn something new because everybody has a unique learning capacity and also it is good opportunity for the students to get instruction from two teachers at the same time.
  • It is a plan made thoughtfully and collaboratively by both teachers.

Co-teaching is not:

  • One teacher teaching and another teacher remaining passive.
  • One teacher only working with the students with disabilities.
  • The general teacher giving more attention to only to the active student.
  • Two teachers teach different content at the same time in whole class.
  • Personally giving more care to the student with disability.
  • Making plan in the class what to do and what to improve.

It is found that co-teaching can serve as an opportunity to be an excellent teacher with an excellent teaching style in the classroom. Likewise, the special educator can learn more about the general education curriculum and classroom management. Co-teaching gives both teachers the chance to learn a lot more about teaching together by sharing responsibility for student outcomes.

Techniquesto Co-teach

According to Marston (2014),there are 5 different ways to doing co-teaching. The following is the list of those techniques with their description.

Parallel teaching: It is a style in which both teachers are teaching at the same time. The students are divided into two groups and each of the groups is taught by one teacher. This style is good for large classes because the students can learn better in a smaller group.

Team teaching: In team teaching, the teachers share the teaching responsibility and it is one of the best teaching styles in the co-teaching classroom. For example, both teachers deliver the same lesson together. Either teacher can raise points or “jump-in” at any time. The teachers should bounce ideas off of each other and raise questions together in this style.

One teacher one drift: Model should be used occasionally but should not be used exclusively because students begin to view the teachers as being unequal in the classroom. In this model, one teacher teaches the lesson, while the second teacher drifts around the classroom and helps students who need extra attention. This model is similar to one teach, one observer in which the second teacher may observe students during the lesson and while they are working and document those observations to better learn how to teach the students.

Station or centre teaching: It is often used in elementary schools but may certainly be used in the middle and high school settings. Students work in stations or centres and the co-teachers may take responsibility for teaching and explaining directions for their assigned stations. Students benefit by working in groups.

Alternative teaching: It is when one teacher teaches to a smaller group of students who need extra help, or students who are advanced and need more of a challenge can be pulled out. The students in the small group can get extra help or can work on advanced lessons. This strategy is especially helpful for catching up students who have been absent. When pulling out special students, it best to include some non-special education students so that the special education students won’t feel singled out.

How to do in Co-teaching?

When it comes to co-teaching, a lot of teachers ask me how I do it. My answer usually includes the followingtechniques which are in line with the techniques listed by Dieker, and Murawski(2003).

       While one teacher is:           The other teacher is:
  • taking note on the board/ overhead
  • Ensuring “brain breaks” to help students process lecture formation
Taking roll
  • Collecting and reviewing last night’s homework
  • Introducing a social or study skill
passing out paper
  • Reviewing direction
  • Modelling first problem on the assignment
Giving instructions orally
  • Writing down on the board
  • clarifying any difficult concept
Checking with understanding with large heterogeneous group of students
  • Checking for understanding with small heterogeneous number of students
providing one to one support as needed
  • Providing different instruction to the whole class
Preparing one group of class for one side of a debate
  • Preparing another group for the opposing side of the debate
Facilitating a silent activity
  • Circulating or checking for comprehension
Providing large group instruction
  • Circulating, using proximity control for behaviour management
Running last minute copies or errands
  • Reviewing homework
  • Providing a study or taking test
Re-teaching or pre teaching with a small group
  • Monitoring large group as they work on practice material
Facilitating the sustained silent reading
  • Reading aloud quietly with a small group
  • Previewing upcoming information
Reading a test aloud to a group of students
  • Proctoring a test silently with a group of students
Creating basic lesson plan for standards, objectives and content curriculum
  • Providing suggestions for modification, accommodation and activities for the diverse learners
Facilitating stations or groups
  • Also facilitating station or groups
Explanting new concept
  • Conducting role play or modelling concept
Asking clarifying question
  • Considering modification needs considering enrichment activities

Challenges of Co-teaching:

Co-teaching is very effective way of teaching. However, there are some challenges to it such as, who will control the classroom and the way of communication during the lesson presentation. In addition to this, it is also difficult for the both of the teachers to run the same class with different instructions. Similarly, it also becomes challenging to follow the teaching and exercise strategies along with the management of the classroom assignments. Likewise, it could difficult to convince teachers for co-teaching if it is new to him/her. Also, making decisions about the level of students could be equally challenging. Most importantly, a lot of teacher seem to be wondering what the other teacher will be doing when one is teaching?

Before I begin any co-teaching, I usually consider doing following things to mitigate the above mentioned challenges.

  • Have a good conversation with the co-teacher and discuss about the class.
  • Separate the time for lesson planning and discussions regarding the teaching, learning, material and assessment processes.
  • Choose roles responsibility and be accountable for all students’ learning.
  • Know each-other very closely for their abilities, expertises and creations.
  • Be familiar with the areas that are not negotiable and of no compromises.

How to be ideal on Co-teaching partnership?

Based on my experience,there must be afeeling of mutual trust,cooperation and contributing in planning, instruction and assessment and the contributions of partner must be respected to become an ideal co-teacher. A separate time slot must be allotted for reflection and co-teaching. Similarly, both the teachers need respect each others’ perspectives. Likewise, it is necessary for the both the co-teachers tobe accountable for the education of every student in the classroom.

Steps to get mutual understanding for effectiveness on Co-teaching:

Based on my personal teaching experience, I strongly feel that the following steps would be useful in achieving mutual understanding and making co- teachingmore effective:

  • Existence of an interest to share the interests of life experiences in order to develop best professional relationship. This can ultimately lead to a much more trusting partnership, which also helps both the partners to better understand each others’ skills and talents.
  • Discussion on one others’ teaching styles, and expertise and strategies can also help in better planning.
  • Sharing and planning the topic beforehand helps to show a unified front. This will also help to create better impression of teacher among students.
  • Regular meeting in order to make planning and lesson preparation is also necessary to get mutual understanding for the effectiveness of co-teaching.

 The most important thing to be kept in mind is planning. If both the teachers are prepared well prior to the class, then only they can make aneffective teaching class.


Bacharach, N., Heck, W, T.,& Dahlberg, K. (2004).  What is co-teaching? Journal of College Teaching & Learning, 4, 19-26.

Cook, L. & Friend, M. (1995). Co-teaching: Guidelines for creating effective practices. Focus on Exceptional Children, 28(3), 1-17.

Lynne, C. (2004). Co-teaching: Principle, practices and pragmatics. New Mexico: New Mexico Public Education Department, Quarterly Special Education Meeting Publication.

N.A. (2014).Co-Teaching: General Guidelines and Procedures. Retrieved from

Dieker, L. A. &Murawski, W, W. (2003).Co-teaching at the secondary level: Unique issues ,current trend, and suggestions for success. The High School Journal, 86(4), 1-13.

Nevin, A., Villa, R., & Thousand, J. (2009). A Guide to Co-Teaching with Paraeducators Practical Tips for K-12 Educators. Thousand Oaks, California: Corwin Pres. (800) 818- 7243

Marston, N. (2014).6 steps to successful co-teaching. Retrieved from

Thousand, J., &Villa, R., &Nevin, A. (2007).Differentiated Instruction: Collaborative Planning & Teaching for Universally Designed Lessons. California: Corwin Press.

Washut Heck, T. & Bacharach, N. (2010). Mentoring Teacher Candidates Through Co-Teaching. Minnesota, Teacher Quality Enhancement Center. St. Cloud.

Villa, R. Thousand, J., &Nevin, A. (2008). A Guide to Co-Teaching: Practical Tips for Facilitating Student Learning (2nd. Ed.). Thousand Oaks, California: Corwin Pres. (800) 818- 7243

            (*Bhatt is an instructor of English Access Microscholarship Program, Nepal who has been working in Kanchanpur Access center since 2013. Besides, she has more than 7 years experience of teaching English as a foreign language in secondary and undergraduate level in Nepal. )



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