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Using Co-Teaching Strategies Effectively: Team Teaching

Amanda Brightman-Uhl EDU 724 Laurel Ellis April 14, 2012 TEAM TEACHING 2

Team teaching is a co-teaching strategy that allows both teachers to be up in front of the whole classroom teaching at the same time. Bess (2000) sums up team teaching nicely for those who have never tried it, stating that like any form of collaborative scholarship, successful team teaching integrates the strengths of multiple viewpoints in a synthetic endeavor that no single member of the project could have completed independently. At its best, team teaching allows students and faculty to benefit from the healthy exchange of ideas in a setting defined by mutual respect and a shared interest in a topic. At its worst, team teaching can create a fragmented or even hostile environment in which instructors undermine each other and compromise the academic ideal of civil discourse. Friend (2008) states that it is a sharing of responsibility of leading instruction, the key characteristic being that both teaching are fully engaged in the delivery of the core instruction. It might be surprising to find out that this co-teaching strategies recommended use is only occasional. Friend (2008) explains that because in this approach you lose the valuable instructional technique of grouping. When both teachers are in front of the class you still have the issue of not being aware of the individual and subtle needs of the students. Friend & Cook (2000) state that 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. Team teaching can create a platform for teaching to try things they would not on their own but it is important that each teacher is comfortable and open to trying new things. If the co-teachers are not comfortable working together they it will not be beneficial to their students learning. This is perhaps the co-teaching strategy that requires the most practice and in some cases a teaming just is not an approach some co-

TEAM TEACHING teachers can implement. Grade Level: 3 Title: What We Know About The Water Cycle Estimated Duration: 30 minute lesson, with a follow-up experiment Objectives: Students will be able to understand that water travels in a cycle. Students will be able to understand the parts of the water cycle: evaporation, condensation, and precipitation. Materials: White board Markers Warm water Plastic wrap Marble Plastic bowl with flat bottom (whip cream bowl works well) Baby food jar Salt Key Vocabulary: Water cycle Evaporation Condensation Precipitation


TEAM TEACHING Procedures: What is a cycle? Something that goes in a circle. A bicycle has two circular tires. Something that travels in a circle is a cycle. Show students a glass of water, and discuss where water comes from. The first teacher is walking around the room asking question about how students think the water cycle works. The second teacher is drawing pictures of the water cycle on the white board as the students are explaining it. After there are some different example on the board the second teacher brings up an actual moving model of the water cycle on the interactive whiteboard The students fix the other water cycle prediction pictures they made as the first teacher facilitates by giving more examples while explaining the water cycle that is on the interactive whiteboard. Direct Instruction: The first teacher is the direct instructor as the second teacher writes the definitions on the whiteboard. Define the key vocabulary terms at board and provide examples of when students may have witnessed evaporation or condensation. Examples of evaporation include: Steam rising from a pot of water Puddles that have dried up Water sitting in a bowl that seems to „disappear‟ after a few days Examples of condensation include:


TEAM TEACHING Water droplets forming on the outside of your water glass A foggy mirror in a bathroom Foggy windows in a car Demonstrate the cyclical movement of water either by drawing the water cycle at the board, or sharing a poster of the water cycle. Explain that in the experiment to follow, we will be creating a mini water cycle. Practice:


At this time the first teacher switches and is leading the experiment while the second teacher is now explaining what is going on while they are doing the experiment. Place a tablespoon of salt in bottom of plastic bowl. Fill with about 1 inch of warm water. Taste water with finger to see if you can taste the salt. Place the empty baby food jar in center of water. Cover plastic bowl with plastic wrap. Set marble on center of plastic wrap above the baby food jar. Place in a sunny spot for a few hours, or one day. Later, check inside the baby food jar. There will be fresh water. Taste it to see if it

tastes salty. The warm water from the bowl evaporated, created condensation when it hit the cool plastic wrap, traveled down the plastic wrap to the center due to the weight of the marble, and dripped into the baby food jar as precipitation. Closure: Teach The Water Cycle Song: (to the tune of She‟ll Be Coming „Round the Mountain) “Water travels in a cycle, yes it does. Water travels in a cycle, yes it does. It goes up as evaporation, the clouds make condensation, it rains down precipitation, yes it does.”

TEAM TEACHING For the co-teaching strategy of team teaching I was really hoping to get into another general education classroom but it did not work out this time. The other special education teacher and I decided to try a science lesson using team teaching. She had a


lesson she co-taught during her student teaching with her mentor teacher, she said it went very well. We came together before the lesson and created a sort of script on who would do what when. We acted it out almost like a play, made some changes, I added a few elements to the lesson and off we went! I was a bit nervous at first and I did not expect that, there requires a lot more flexibility when both teacher are on center stage. For this particular lesson we invited our principal in to observe which could have added to my nervousness. Our four students reacted very well to having both of us at the front of the class teaching. Reflecting back on the lesson now I would have to say I am glad team teaching was the last strategy we tried, if it was the first I don‟t think it would have gone very well. By this point we are both very comfortable with each others teaching styles and can also predict each others next move. After about 20 minutes, before we tried the experiment we could sense that the students needed a short break. We did a short brain gym activity to get them centered and back on track to learn, after that they were ready for the experiment. Overall the lesson went better then I expected, it went smoothly and the students were engaged and active participants throughout the lesson. My principal said he was very impressed and he would have thought we had taught that lesson many times before. If I had the chance to teach this lesson over I would have started out with a partial water cycle before having them tell me what they already know. After a few guesses I realized they knew less then I thought and started scaffolding so they had a

better idea of TEAM TEACHING 7 what we where looking for. Even though we have been studying the water this lesson might have been better placed further into the unit. Friend (2008) explains my situation perfectly when she said some co-teaching partners feel like they are completely on their own, that they received permission to co-teach but have no school-level expectations have been set and no plan exists to expand the service model. After looking over chapter 6 in Friend (2008), I realize my school is currently on stage one; Co-Teaching Program Development and Evaluation. My next step is really pressuring administration to let my help establish the program and its goals. Clarifying intent, establishing a planning structure, assess needs and set goals are all things that will need to be addressed along the way. With permission, I will start gathering a team of teachers that are interested in co-teaching, starting the process and collecting data on more co-teaching partnerships than just myself. When we can do this and present it to the administration, I feel they will be more apt to fully commit to co-teaching in my school. At this time next year I would love to say that we have at least four co-teaching partnerships up and running, only time will tell. When implementing co-teaching strategies it is important to not always use the same one just because you are comfortable with it. Utilizing all the different co-teaching strategies at the right time for your class is the ultimate goal for any functioning co-teaching classroom. This does not mean that co-teaching has to be done everyday, but consistency and practice will only strengthen a classroom. This co-teaching partnership

overall has been a very positive one for me. Having done a dozen or more with the other special education teacher at my school and one with a general education teacher they all TEAM TEACHING went surprisingly well. I would have to say I prefer co-teaching with the other special education teacher because our personalities blend so well. We are both very laid back and can switch control easily. It is like the old saying goes, two minds are better then one. One of my favorite quotes by George Bernard Shaw was in Friend (2008), “If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples than you and I will each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.” 8



Bess, James L. Teaching alone, teaching together : transforming the structure of teams for teaching. San Francisco : Jossey-Bass, 2000. Cook, L., & Friend, M. (2004). Co-Teaching: Principles, Practices, and Pragmatics, Paper presented at the quarterly meeting of the New Mexico Public Education Department Special Education Meeting, Albuquerque, NM. Retrieved from Friend, M. (2008). Co-teach! A handbook for creating and sustaining successful classroom partnerships in inclusive schools. Greensboro, NC: MFI.