Co Teaching In Secondary Education Education Essay


The title of this thesis is A Case Study of Co-Teaching in Secondary Education. A new way of teaching, which is not really new, it is just taking over a great deal of classrooms today. Why is one teacher not enough anymore or why is it better to have two or more teachers in one classroom?

The focus in this work is on how important is teaching in a team in schools nowadays and how is it different from other teaching. The term is called Collaborative Teaching and not Team-Teaching what a lot of people think. Team- Teaching is just a form of Collaborative Teaching. Anyway when Collaborative Teaching is used you still teach in a team, so lets take a look at the word team.

What is the definition of a team and what is co-teaching and what are the different models of co-teaching?

The other chapter is about the important factors to be a good teacher in a team. If you meet all the criteria, are you a "real team"? What are the differences to a group?

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There will be also some examples of co-teaching in different classrooms, with opinions from experts, teachers who are teaching in a team.

First of all you have start at the beginning and look at the word "team".

Definitions of a team

Earlier, future teachers at educational institutes were trained and skilled to be a lone fighter one day. Everybody had its own way of thinking about his or her career and was just interested in personal progress. Everybody wanted to be the best teacher at the school and confirmation from other teachers, pupils, superiors or parents was needed.

But the requirements for teachers have changed a lot in the last decade and the demands are going more and more into working in a team.

The premises for collaboration cannot be assumed as given all the time. The skills for working in a team are often just rudimentarily, because at the most secondary schools social learning is not as important as it should be and it is just encouraged desultorily. Which I also know from personal experience.

What does the word team mean?

The word "team" comes from the old english word tēon which means draw or pull. It is translated as "a family or brood of young animals" and later used in terms of "animal paddock". It second meaning is "a set of draught animals" which should mean "yoke".

(The Oxford Universal Dictionary, 1970, ". 2139)

A group of draft animals is pulling a cart or wain and they have to pull it with combined forces as a team. The better the animals can arrange their force with the others, the easier it gets. Nowadays the term is used for merger of people who come together, who perform sport- or workplace-connected activites. The activity is in harmony and comparable with a good group of draft animals. A group of sports people is comming the together with the common goal to win. Through the association of their skills they try to reach the goal. The better their harmony is, the better they play on the field or court. It is not enough to place all the bets on the best player, if the reconciliation does not fit.


Monitoring Teacher

This situation occurs when one teacher assumes the responsibility for instructing the entire class, while the other teacher circulates the room and monitors student understanding and behavior.

Roles shift between teachers during the class period or week.

Parallel Instruction

In this setting the class is divided into small 2 larger groups/smaller groups/partners and both teachers circulate and provide individualized support.

Active Partnership

The teachers actively share the instruction of content and skills to all students

Examples: One teaches while one constructs concept map, dialog between teachers is exchanging and discussing ideas in front of learners

1. One Teach, One Observe. One of the advantages in co-teaching is that more detailed observation of students engaged in the learning process can occur. With this approach, for example, co-teachers can decide in advance what types of specific observational information to gather during instruction and can agree on a system for gathering the data. Afterward, the teachers should analyze the information together.

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2. One Teach, One Assist. In a second approach to co-teaching, one person would keep primary responsibility for teaching while the other professional circulated through the room providing unobtrusive assistance to students as needed.

3. Parallel Teaching. On occasion, student learning would be greatly facilitated if they just had more supervision by the teacher or more opportunity to respond. In parallel teaching, the teachers are both covering the same information, but they divide the class into two groups and teach simultaneously.

4. Station Teaching. In this co-teaching approach, teachers divide content and students. Each teacher then teaches the content to one group and subsequently repeats the instruction for the other group. If appropriate, a third station could give students an opportunity to work independently.

5. Alternative Teaching: In most class groups, occasions arise in which several students need specialized attention. In alternative teaching, one teacher takes responsibility for the large group while the other works with a smaller group.

6. Team Teaching: In team teaching, both teachers are delivering the same instruction at the same time. Some teachers refer to this as having one brain in two bodies. Others call it tag team teaching. Most co-teachers consider this approach the most complex but satisfying way to co-teach, but the approach that is most dependent on teachers' styles.



A style of interaction in which two or more professionals work together toward a common goal. (Friend and Cook, 2003)


A philosophy that states that students with disabilities have the right to recieve their education in general education classroom, with necessary supports and services provided in that setting.


When educators collaborate and communicate regarding the same group(s) of students without necessarily teaching in the same classroom.

Team Teaching

A method of co-instruction by which both educators co-facilitate a lesson at the same time (on of the five co-teaching approaches identified by Cook and Friend, 1995)


The placement of students with disabilites into general education classes (usally part-time and without any additional services)


An interaction in which one party provides assistance and expertise to assist another party.

Job Sharing

When educators work part-time and take alternate days to instruct the same group of students.

What is Co-Teaching?

It is a way of teaching with many different names - collaborative teaching, team teaching, or cooperative teaching but, regardless which term it is used it is described that two or more preofessionals who deliver quality instruction to students with and without disabilities in a classroom. (Dieker and Barnett, 1996; Friend and Cook, 2007)

Co- teaching is referred to as the key for bringing people with diverse backgrounds and interests together to share knowledge and skills as they individualize learning for students. (Thousand, Villa and Nevin, 2006a)

Melinda L. Fattig and Maureen Tormey Taylor in their book "Co-Teaching in the Differentiated Classroom" define co- teaching as two credentialed teachers teaching together at the same time in the same classroom. Any pair or group of people can collaborate without co-teaching , but effective co-teaching cannot exist without collaboration.

Wendy W. Murawski describes co-teaching in her book "Collaborative Teaching in Secondary Schools" overall as a marriage. The process of finding the right partner as a "Dating" and "Living Together" scene.

Team- Teaching implies the word "TEAM" which means a group of people with a full set of complementary skills required to complete a task, job, or project. (Business Dictionary)

So let's take a look at those skills.

Abilty to cooperate: the willingness and ability, to intigrate yourself in a group and compromise with other people.

Ability to achieve consensus: the willingness and ability, to accord more with other peoples sentiments and goals, without forgetting his/her own ones.

Willingness to be in a team: the basic adjustment, that achieving other people's goals sometimes can be more important than achieving his/her own goals.

Willingness to communicate: the willingness to provide other people with knowledge, experience, information, suggestions or representations. On the other side also be receptive for it.

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Dialogue-ability: the ability, to altercrate with other peoples contributions in a factual way and also be able to contribute something in the group too.

Social flexibility: the willingness, to change his/her repeated perspectives.

Willingness for innovation: the willingness, to accept unusual ideas or new solutions for problems.

Frustration- tolerance: the willingness, to work on "shocks"(bad news) or assignments of guilt.

Critical faculty: the openness for factual criticism and the willingness to be self-critical with own sentiments.

Interaction ability: The skill, to build interacting relationships and the actions that go along with in in a way, so that interpersonal cooperation loses the least amount of its benefits.

Benefits of Co- Teaching

Why co-teach? Because there are a lot of benefits you can find with it. There are different outcomes for students and teachers. In the books it is said that it can be very useful to go through these benefits from time to time. So students and teachers can be aware of it in the classroom. It is also important to show benefits for both sides, students and teachers. If students are not happy, the teacher is doing something wrong. On the other side, if the teacher is not happy, no one is happy.

Benefits for Students

Access to the general curriculum for students with disabilities (Bauwens and Hourcade, 1997; Cook and Friend, 1995; Murawski, 2005a).

Positive social outcomes for the students with and without disabilities (Hunt, Alwell, Farron- Davis and Goetz, 1996; Pugach and Wesson, 1995)

Increased student engagement and increased use of strategies by students (Boudah, Schumaker and Deshler, 1997)

More individual attention and more interaction with teachers (Murawski, 2006; Zigmond, Magiera and Matta, 2003)

Improves students' social skills and self- concept through the reduction of pull- out situations that are thought to be potentially stigmatizing for students (Jones and Carlier, 1995; Salend et al., 1997; Walther- Thomas, 1997)

Benefits to students with disabilities include increased self- confidence and self- esteem, enhanced academic performance, increased social skills, and stronger peer relations (Walther- Thomas, 1997; Weichel, 2001)

Benefits to students without disabilities who participated in co- taught arrangements include improved academic performance, increased time and skills, increased emphasis on social skills, and improved classroom communities (Walther- Thomas, 1997; Weichel,2001)

Delivery of services and modifications can be provided to students with academic difficulties or who are considered "at risk" without requiring those students to be labeled as needing special education (Bauwens and Hourcade, 1997; Salend et al., 1997)

Students with disabilities had more positive attitude, were provided with role models for behavior and learning, interacted more with nondisabled peers, and were exposed to higher- level concepts and discussions than was typically found in a segregated special education setting (Dieker, 1998; Murawski, 2006)

Jones and Carlier (1995) also reflected on the benefits to students with multiple disabilites when engaged in a co- tought setting and found that these students increased the amount of interactions they initiated, exhibited increased self- confidence, decreased aggressive/ noncompliant acts, and that students without disabilities interacted more naturally with them over time. (Murawski, 2006)

The provision of individualized instruction through the use of differentiated instructional groupings and strategies made possible by having two teachers in the room is a key benefit for students with mild disabilities (Murawski and Dieker, 2004; Walsh and Snyder, 1993)

Co-Teaching approaches for bilingual classrooms have been found to produce significant possibilities for students, to include strong student- student relationships and increased student self- esteem (Bahamondee and Friend, 1999).

Behavioral and academic expectations remain high for students with and without disabilities (Dieker, 2001; Murawski, 2006).

Students with disabilities preferred to have co- teachers in content classes they deemed "difficult". They also preferred to have their needs met in general education classes rahter than to receive services through a resource setting. Students in inclusive classrooms had higher self- concept in the areas of social skills and academic self- esteem tha those students in resource classrooms (Murawski, 2006).

Benefits for Teachers

Teachers involved in co- teaching relationships state that this relationship resulted in increased professional satisfaction, opportunities for professional growth, personal support, and opportunities for collaboration (Walther- Thomas, 1997; Weiss and Brigham, 2000)

Special education teachers gain insight into the realities of the general classroom while general educators learn valuable lessons in planning, accommodating, and instructing students with learning or behavioral difficulties (Friend and Cook, 2007; Salend et al., 1997).

Teachers working together leads by extension to increased friendships, which can in turn increase both morale and student performance (Salend et al., 1997; Weiss and Brigham, 2000)

Having two teachers in one room allows for experimentation with new teaching methodologies (Giangreco, Baumgart, and Doyle, 1995; Murawski, 2006)

Co- teaching makes it easier to conduct hands- on activities and provide flexible testing situations (Cross and Walker- Knight, 1997)

Co- teaching enables whole group instruction to be provided while still meeting individual needs (Adams and Cessna, 1993; Murawski and Dieker, 2004)

Co- teaching provides for more on- task time, as both teachers are able to manage behavior (Cross and Walker- Knight, 1997, Gerber and Popp, 1999). In fact, co- teachers will spend significantly less time having to conduct direct behavior management that teachers instructing alone (Weichel, 2001).

Co- teaching encourages teachers to share expertise, providing one another with valuable feedback (Cross and Walker- Knight, 1997; Hughes and Murawski, 2001)

Co- teaching allows educators to assist one another in addressing the issues related to content, accountability, and structure unique to the secondary level (Dieker and Murawski, 2003).

Educators who had experienced co- teaching found that they were more energized and creative, were able to trust one another, and had more fun teaching (Adams and Cessna, 1993; Murawski 2003).

Hohenbrink, Johnston, and Westhoven (1997) reported on their own personal experiences with co- teaching and stated that it prompted self- reflection and led to significant changes in their understandings and teaching practices. (Murawski, 2003)

Gately and Gately (2001) stated that as co- teachers move into the collaborative stage of interaction, "communication, humor, and a high degree of comfort punctuate the co- teaching, collaborative classroom" (Murawski, 2003).

In a survey of special and general education teachers engaged in co- teaching, special education teachers reported increased job satisfaction, while general and special educators alike noted that co- teaching increased both teaching and learning potential (Bauwens et al., 1989).

Research studies on co- teaching have found that the value added by have a special education teacher in the room to co- teach resulted in more individual attention for students, more on-task student behavior, and more interaction with teachers (Murawski, 2006; Zigmond et al., 2003)

Barriers of Co- Teaching

With benefits there always come barriers with it, because nothing is easy to achieve in life. It is also important to take a look at those barriers and get rid of them as early as possible. Some of them are more serious than others, but each one can cause individuals or schools difficulties.

Lack of training or professional development

Teachers are often asked to "co- teach" without any pre- experience or training. They have no idea what it should or what it not should look like. The outcome was that teachers often had negative experience with co- teaching. In addition, those who managed to teach in in a team often reported that they had to spend way more time to figure out what is important for co- teaching and what should it include and that they would have needed to had some upfront training been provided to them.

Personality or philosophical clashes

Personalities matter. If two people are put together over a longer term and have to work together, their personalites have to match in some certain ways. Especially regarding to childrens education, it is important that the two teachers can compromise, collaborate, and communicate. It is like with a relationship and children. If the parents do not enjoy beeing together, the children are not comfortable either. Same with teachers and students, if the students pick up their teacher's bad vibes, the outcomes are generally negative - for students and teachers.

Limited resources

Resources are always a big issue in schools and co-teaching. Resources might be human or material. Not enough teachers to co- teach in all desired classes. And on the material side, not enough desks, teacher's guides. Resources can cause issue problems between teachers and administrators.

Reluctance to lose control

Control is hard to give up, especially for teachers who are used to be in control of different things (class, students, caseload, schedule, or content). Sharing this "power" is sometimes not easy for some of the teachers, particularly for teachers who have a different area of expertise.

Lack of time

Time is one of the biggest factors in co- teaching. It takes more time to plan, because there will be a second person in the classroom who have to plan in. In the books time is often displayed as the biggest factor for successful co- teaching. While some teachers find ways to make time to plan and collaborate, others lament the lack of time and resort to simply providing in- class support or other options. I have never heard of a teacher who feels that he has sufficient time to do all the things he is asked to do as and educator.(Murawski, 2009)

Many teachers need some practice and experience in co-teaching first to find time.

Lack of administrative support

Administrators are involved in every part which is already mentioned.

Administrators play a key role in:

Providing teachers with professional development related to any new educational initiative

Determing partnerships between co- teachers

Obtaining and doling out resources among faculty and staff

Creating the master schedule

Enabling teachers to feel free to try new things and "lose a little conrol"

Finding or creating time for teachers to plan, share, and collaborate

Administrators set the tone for the success- of failure- of inclusive practises such as co- teaching.(Murawski, 2009)

Are we ready to date? - Finding the right parnter!

Inclusion is important, more and more schools are recognizing that and embrace inclusion. According to Howard M. Weiner there are 3 levels of typical instructional focus. Level 1 is more toward whole class instruction and displays very little individual or differentiated instruction. In Level 2 schools, more differentiated instruction and cooperative learning are given. As reported to Weiner, Level 3 schools are dynamic, responsive, engaging, and dedicated to the success of all students.

To know what level of inclusiveness your school has right now, Weiner created a chart: Determining Levels of Inclusiveness.

(SOURCE: Adopted from Weiner, H.M. (2003). Effective inclusion: professional development in the context of the classroom. Teaching Exceptional Children, 35(6), 12-18)

Level 1

Level 2

Level 3

Little or no inclusion

Some students fully included

Dedicated to the success of all students

Ignores individual differences

Cooperative learning is notices in some classes

Focus is on how students learn more than what they learn

Minimal efforts to accommodate diverse learners

Some student- based activites

Examines growth indicators or need for improvement

High special education referral rate for minority and bilingual students

Some students in special education are regarded well by some teachers

Uses self- reflection to evaluate inclusive practices

Studies done on co- teaching have found that it can be a very effective method for meeting student needs (Magiera et al., 2005; Murawski, 2006; Rea et al., 2002).

However, administrative support is key to its implementation and, ultimately, its success or failure (Dieker, 2001; Rea, 2005; Spencer, 2005)

Everything starts with the administrators, they are the matchmakers. They can decide if there will be co- teaching, effective or not. There are many ways for the administrator to show if he or she truly supports co- teaching. A major part involves the awareness of the different approaches to collaborative support in the general education classroom. Another part is providing guidance in the logistics of creating co- taught teams and their schedules. The administrator has to provide support for co- instruction of students in inclusive classes, and also being aware of best practices in supervising co- taught teams.

Although, having to professional teachers in one class is the dream for a lot of people (administrators, teachers, and parents), not everybody can achieve this situation. On of the reasons can be budget problems. It is also very hard for an administrative force to to know what the possible approaches are for the providing support to students with special needs in the general education classroom.

Another important point for a successful start in co- teaching is that everybody has to be aware of the differences in these terms. Miscommunication at this stage can be devastating and can negatively impact the adoption and implementation of co- teaching.

As already mentioned: Co- Teaching is when two professionals co- plan, co- instruct, and co- assess a diverse group of students in the same general education classroom (Murawski, 2003)

Both teachers are equals in the classroom and both provide substantive instruction to all students (Friend and Cook, 2003).

According to Spencer, 2005, co- teaching requires a commitment from teachers and administrators. Both teachers are embedded into instruction, which means that the general education teacher is not the "real" teacher and the special education teacher has to deal with the role as a paraprofessional. Both teachers are dedicated to all aspects of teaching the class (planning, instructing,assassing).

Administrators must demonstrate a healthy respect for this collaborative and co-equal relationship if they want to ensure that both teachers and students value it as well. (Murawski, 2009)

Differences between In-Class Support and Co- Teaching

As stated in "Collaborative Teaching in Secondary Education" by Wendy Murawski, a great deal of schools do not have enough special education teachers to enable all classes to be co- taught. The special educators are often not as many in order to monitoring the growing caseload and cannot afford to be in one classroom all the time. In that case in-class support should also be acceptable. In-class support is different from co-teaching, there is no co- planning and no co-assessing.

During in- class support the special teacher takes over different roles:

Providing on-the-spot modifications and accommodations

Behavioral support

Proximity control

Other academic and social assistance if needed

The two teachers are in the same room and they are getting to know one another, but the level of commitment, goal setting, and shared decision making is lacking.They may be friends, but they are not two partners sharing equally in the collaboration required by two individuals commited to raising children together. (Murawski, 2009)

All in all, in-class supports are better than no support at all.