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Many schools are using team teaching in order to support the needs of a variety of students. This lesson will introduce you to the various models of team teaching as well as strategies to support a successful partnership.

What Is Team Teaching?

When educators hear the words ‘team teaching,’ they might picture two teachers, both standing in front of the classroom delivering the same lesson together to the same group of students. Although this is one model for team teaching, sometimes educators are surprised to learn that there are actually six different models that support the team-teaching approach. These six models are:

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  1. One Teach/One Observe
  2. One Teach/One Assist
  3. Station Teaching
  4. Parallel Teaching
  5. Alternative or Differentiated Teaching
  6. Teaming

In this lesson, we will discuss each team-teaching model and why team teaching is used in schools today. We will also review practical strategies for managing the successful team teaching relationship.

The Six Team Teaching Models

One Teach/One Observe

In this model, one teacher is primarily responsible for delivering instruction to the entire class, while the other teacher is serving as an intentional observer. While observing, this teacher can observe and record student behavior, student understanding, or even the teaching teacher’s style and behavior.

One Teach/One Assist

Teachers using this model divide the teaching responsibilities so that one teacher delivers the lesson and the other teacher monitors and assists individual students that may need help.

Station Teaching

Station teaching allows each teacher to work with smaller groups of students.

The teachers divide the students into groups and create activities for the students to engage with the lesson material along with the assistance of a teacher. These stations can involve the teaching of new content, reinforcement of previously learned material, or challenging activities for students that are ready.

Parallel Teaching

In this model, the teachers divide the class in half. Each teacher works with one of the groups of students, teaching the exact same content. Teachers can decide to divide the group randomly, or to divide the class according to readiness level for the lesson or preferred learning style.

Alternative or Differentiated Lesson

When using this model, one of the teachers teaches the main lesson to the majority of the class. The second teacher works with a small group of students to either provide remedial help or to extend the lesson with more challenging material.

Teaming

This approach involves both teachers working together to deliver instruction to the same group of students at the same time.

Rationale for Team Teaching

Schools use a team-teaching approach in order to support a variety of students within the general education classroom. Oftentimes, general education and special education teachers can team teach in order to help meet the needs of students with disabilities or gifted students. Additionally, general education teachers can team teach with English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers to support English language learners.

Strategies to Support Team Teaching

Initial Discussions

Communication is key for an effective team-teaching relationship. Before teachers begin to work together, they need to discuss a variety of important topics so that they can create a shared approach for their classroom.

Some of these topics include classroom management styles, plans for communicating with parents, preferred classroom routines and procedures, and each teacher’s philosophy of education.

Intentional Feedback

Team teachers need to have planned sessions where they can give each other feedback and share their reflections about the effectiveness of their partnership. A brief conversation at the end of each week can give each teacher the opportunity to share methods that are going well and also share any areas of concern.

Shared Planning Time

It is imperative that team teachers have time to plan lessons together.

Because this time can be somewhat limited in schools, teachers should make sure that they utilize their planning time effectively. Creating a planning time agenda can help keep teams on track. For teams with limited shared time, online tools and web-based documents can help connect teachers that cannot physically meet to plan.

Professional Development

Ongoing professional development can help team teachers enhance their skills. If resources are limited to attend workshops or seminars, team teachers can observe or interview other teaching teams for support.

Lesson Summary

In order to support the learning of students with disabilities, gifted students, and English language learners, many schools use a team-teaching approach. Teachers can choose from six different approaches to team teaching:

  1. One Teach/One Observe, where one teacher leads the lesson and the other observes the students as well as their partner’s teaching style
  2. One Teach/One Assist, where one teacher instructs the students and the other provides assistance to individual students throughout the lesson
  3. Station Teaching, where students work in smaller groups at activity-based stations directly related to the lesson, supported by both teachers
  4. Parallel Teaching, where students are divided into two smaller groups, each of which work with one teacher on the same lesson
  5. Alternative or Differentiated Teaching, when one teacher presents the lesson to the majority of students, while the other works with few students who may need additional assistance or more challenging content
  6. Teaming, both teachers working together to deliver instruction to the same group of students at the same time

Finding times to effectively communicate is an essential component to a team’s success.

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