This article on indicators of effective co-teaching is Part 11 of the Collaborating for ELLs Series.
Lately, I’ve noticed an increasing number of people using wearable technology such as the iWatch. People who own iWatches talk about how it measures key health indicators: heart rate, steps walked, and hours slept. These indicators help us determine if we’ve been too stationary or haven’t slept enough. We can then take actions to change our behaviors so that we can become healthy again.
This analogy also works for co-teaching. Unfortunately, there’s no wearable device to monitor how well you’re co-teaching, but there are clear indicators of effective co-teaching between the content teacher and the English language teacher(ELT). We can use these indicators to measure the degree to which the co-teaching is asset-based, meaning that the expertise of both teachers are being capitalized.
Indicators of Effective Co-Teaching
I organized these indicators into three groups: student-facing, content-facing, and classroom-facing. Student-facing means how teachers work with students. Content-facing indicators are ones that address how teachers led instruction. Finally, classroom-facing means how both teachers use the physical space they share.
- Both teachers are expected to work with all students.
- Students seek help from both teachers based on content or language needs.
- Students respect both teachers equally and follow the instructions of both educators.
When Ms. Carol, a science teacher is absent, we’ve agreed that she doesn’t need to call a substitute. Because we’ve already planned our lessons together, she sees me as truly another teacher and has me lead instruction instead. Because of her attitude, students are used to this arrangement and also see me simply as one of their teachers, not strictly a remedial one.
- Both educators led instruction. The content educator teaches nuances of the content; the ELT teaches strategies to access the content.
- Both educators assess students and provide feedback. The content teacher assesses content knowledge; the ELT assesses use of academic language.
- Both educators differentiate content, process, and product based on students’ needs and interests.
In Mr. Arno’s science class, students often come and ask me for help writing their lab reports because I’ve led several sessions on writing like a scientist. Though I am officially responsible for the ELs, I make myself available to support everyone through the writing process.
- Both educators share the same space and resources.
- Both schedules are aligned to allow time for co-planning and co-teaching.
- Both teachers can arrange the class into small groups, stations, or whole class.
In one example, Mr. Duncan wanted students to present one-by-one. This was a time-consuming structure, so I recommended that we have students simultaneously present in small groups. Mr. Duncan gave me full control of how I wanted to arrange the students around the classroom. He didn’t feel like I was invading his space because we were co-teaching using the same classroom.
The running theme in these indicators of co-teaching is collaboration. When students see that the content teacher and the ELT are working in tandem, they begin to see that both teachers are valuable and both play a distinctive role in students’ development based on the teacher’s area of expertise.
We could also substitute the word “equality” for “inclusion” when thinking about co-teaching. The content teachers need to be included as a positive contributor to class and allowed to assume an expanding role in leading instruction.
Now that we have a list of indicators of effective co-teaching, we can extend these indicators into evaluation of our collaboration in terms of co-teaching and co-planning. In next’s week post, I’ll share ways to evaluate one’s collaboration formally or informally through self-evaluation.