Jase started third grade this year and for the first time, he is being taught in a co-teaching atmosphere. In the past, he has always had one teacher who has about 20 students.
This year he was assigned to Mrs. Y’s class. She has 22 students. She, however, co-teaches with the teacher next door, Mrs. S who has 23 students. They share three classrooms worth of space.
There are many types of co-teaching such as parallel, team, alternating, and station. In his class, they mix several of these varieties depending on what they are doing.
I would say parallel teaching is their main focus. Their schedules are the same. So if one is teaching science in her classroom, the other is also teaching the same science lesson in her own classroom. If one teacher is stronger in one subject, they might actually combine the classes for a lecture and then break into groups to put the lesson into practice.
Along this same line, when they do math, Mrs. Y teaches 10-12 kids, and Mrs. S teaches 10-12 kids. The remaining kids are divided into groups of 4-5 students (some from each class) and rotate through four different math stations. The kids are encouraged to work together and discuss the math problems at each station, and both teachers (along with a classroom helper) check on each station periodically.
This method of discussing and working together is used throughout the day. Whenever they are not in “lecture” mode, the teachers have the students pair up or work in groups. There is almost nothing that they do individually except for taking a test.
The teachers are constantly encouraging the kids to explain how they reached their conclusions. This allows the other students to see that you can get the right answer multiple ways.
Now co-teaching is not new. Co-teaching is about the two teachers working together. Yes, there are times when the classes retreat to their own areas but the majority of the time, the kids are intermingled and working together.
Their classroom is also set up to be changeable. The tables are on rollers so that the configuration can be set up to meet whatever the teachers need. They have projectors hooked up to their computers so all kids can see what they are talking about in multiple locations, and both teachers have auditory systems that can project their voices to either their own or both classrooms as necessary.
I find it a unique setup from what we are used to. And Jase really loves the format. It helps that Mrs. S and Mrs. Y work so well together. This is their third year teaching this way.
Our principal likes it so much that he has recommended all the classes be set up the same way. So Lexie’s class is set up with three classrooms too but her teacher and the teacher next door do only a small part of their day together. They by no means have the system down as well as Jase’s teachers. But it is a start, and I suspect the next year her classes will be more like Jase’s was this year. Or at least I hope so because I like this teaching method.