The Benefits of Co-Teaching Essay

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Collaboration in the world of education has become an increasingly popular method of addressing a variety of school issues, such as curriculum design, behavioral plans, professional development and management of resources. One of the areas in which collaboration is becoming more popular is co-teaching in special education, where special education teachers and general education teachers share the planning and instruction responsibilities for inclusion classrooms (Friend & Cook, 2010). As academic standards for the education of students with disabilities are held to the same standards as their typical peers due to the No Child Left Behind Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the co-teaching model has been increasingly implemented to meet those needs. Most research has shown co-teaching to be effective in the inclusion classroom, though there are a few studies which have refuted its significance and identified reasons for problems in implementing a successful co-teaching program.
Co-teaching is the collaboration of two or more credentialed teaching professionals, most typically a general education teacher and a special education teacher. To truly qualify as a co-teaching model, each teacher must be actively involved in the teaching of the lessons. Each teacher contributes their own unique expertise to the planning, instruction, and managing of all students in the classroom. If executed in this way, co-teaching can enhance the learning environment and involve and engage all students in the classroom. All students, from the academically gifted to the academically challenged, can benefit from the increased engaged time and more diverse instruction which the co-teaching model offers.
Within the co-teaching model itself there are six different ways in which the model can be implemented; all serve various purposes and each has its benefits and drawbacks. The first is where one teaches and one observes, a useful model when observation and data collection is necessary, but it does not give both teachers equivalent responsibilities. Station teaching breaks students into small groups and has them rotate to several teacher-led and/or independent work stations, a model which involves both teachers but can be noisy and distracting for both teachers and students. In parallel teaching, students are divided into two equal groups and each partner teaches the same material; this method ensures diversity and lowers teacher-student ratio, but requires that both teachers have similar content knowledge and teach at a similar pace. In alternative teaching, one teacher works with a small group of students who need additional instruction, while the other teacher works with the remaining students; this benefits those students who need more intensive instruction, but it can stigmatize them if they are always placed in this small group instruction. One teach while one assists is a method that allows for students to be supported during a lesson, but it...

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