Collaborative teaching provides a means towards a unique teaching experience for teachers and an excellent learning experience for students. This effect is achieved due to the presence of several teachers in every classroom to address various learning needs of students. For such an environment to be effective for students, it is important that co-teachers be in an agreement with each other and be able to share responsibilities. They should also be in a position to share common objectives and meet the expectations of the class. However, this environment is not easy to create; it requires much planning and a well-elaborated functional relationship between the teachers.
According to Macfarlane, (2013), teachers who are passionate about teaching find it easy to identify the right co-teacher. After successful identification, they work together to ensure that their relationship grows to be meaningful and strive towards achievement of their goals; even as much as there are difficulties experienced in starting a new relation such as awkwardness. The process of co-teaching requires participation and contribution from students, teachers, parents, and leaders among other people.
Participants of a Collaborative Teaching
Collaborative teaching requires contributions from both the teachers and the students. Teachers contribute to collaborative teaching through sharing their ideas, opinions, knowledge and skills in class. They also ensure that a good relationship exists between them, as it is a fundamental aspect of this kind of teaching. Nevertheless, students also play a crucial role in collaborative teaching by listening to their teachers, understanding the lessons, thus, and ensuring cooperation. In addition, students also offer new ideas and ask questions that will enhance understanding. Without both the teachers’ and students’ participation collaborative teaching would be impossible. Co-teaching can be an amazing experience if proper planning and communication receive the needed attention from the beginning.
Role of parents in collaborative teaching
Parents play a very important role in collaborative teaching because they are in contact with the students quite often. They can act as special education teachers by working hand in hand with the regular teachers in ensuring the students’ needs are met. For example, while at home, parents teach their children about various things like respect, obedience, courtesy, honest among other values that important in their daily lives. They do this in a friendly way in which their children can understand and do as they are taught. Apart from teaching their children, parents can also be routinely taken to a classroom to address students and teach them, this will also help to enhance an understanding on the students’ side because they are closer to their parents than to their teachers. In the plan, this strategy will be applied regularly so as to make sure that the students become all rounded both socially and professionally( Macfarlane, 2013).
Steps Considered in the Plan While Preparing for Co- teaching Process
The first step to be taken by both the regular as well as the special classroom and education teachers is to establish a rapport/relationship. It is necessary even before the students become involved in the process. The teachers will get to know each other on personal and professional levels because they are expected to teach together for the whole year. In addition, they should identify what they have in common, for example, if they are married, their hobbies, likes and dislikes (Waldron et al. 2014). In addition, they need to find out the level of professionalism that each one of them has. This step is important since it will have a profound effect on students who can sense both tension and harmony in the classroom.
Important Elements of a Relationship
Several elements will need proper consideration when dealing with collaborative teaching, and the most important of them is time. It is a key factor to take into account when scheduling in co-teaching. Co-teachers must observe the time to ensure that they do not waste it. Careful observation of the daily-allocated time will soon become a routine for the teachers and, therefore, maximum effectiveness will be achieved during the lessons. Keeping time can be a difficult task because of arising issues that may require careful consideration or be given a priority. In addition, the time aspect is an important factor when building a relationship between co-teachers (Walther-Thomas, 2012).
Another element of paramount consideration at this point is honesty. It is the source of an open communication between co-teachers. They are encouraged to be honest when addressing issues that affect them. For example, if one is not comfortable, slowing down the pace of the class, he/she should talk to his/her colleague about this matter and try to find solutions to the problem. Just like time, honesty is not an aspect that can be easily achieved (Waldron et al. 2014); it will require two or three teachers who are working together to learn about each other and to understand each other.
The second step in preparing for a co- teaching activity is the identification of teaching methods and using them to create a cohesive classroom. For example, one of the teachers does not use textbooks often but rather prefers practical approach to teaching while the other one might need to use a textbook as a basis for the following experiments or practices. Such a situation will require an understanding between the colleagues on their teaching styles to agree on the most appropriate way to conduct the lessons without straining each other (Walther-Thomas, 2012). Another issue for consideration is how to manage behaviors and discipline styles. A balance can be achieved by close examination of both instructional and discipline approaches and joining them together to create a cohesive classroom. In so doing, everyone is sure of his or her comfort. In addition, when planning for the lessons, each of the two methods remains applicable in a manner that they complement each other (Fiedler & Väljataga, 2011). The third step will be a discussion of strengths and weaknesses. It will require both the instructors to come up with a list of personal strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes. This list should receive proper analysis and comparison with the subsequent highlighting the strengths that seem to be dominant in one teacher. Having indicated the strengths of that particular teacher will, therefore, allow him or her to act as a leader in that area. This step will enable the differentiation of instructions made to meet the needs of students in the classroom, as well as providing space for an individualized instruction (Cramer et al. 2012).
The fourth step taken in the preparation for co-teaching is the discussion of individualized education plans and regular education goals. In order to develop an individualized education plan, the special education teacher will engage the regular teacher in the special education process. However, it should be noted that students in a special education class belong to both the special education teacher and the regular one. This fact will, therefore, require the general teacher to be well informed about the individualized education plan for every child. Teaching is effective when the teachers are aware of their student’s special needs, which is why it is crucial to incorporate this section into the plan. Similarly, the regular teacher should also engage the special education teacher in his/her goals for the regular students who, in their turn, belong to the special education teacher too (Bergren, 2011). In short, both instructors will address the goals, objectives and mandatory curriculum for each particular grade level.
The next step in the plan for the co-teaching process is the formulation of the plan of action. It mainly takes place at the beginning of the year in order to minimize disruptions that may arise from several decisions made throughout the year. The action plan will contain the following: scheduling, the expectations regarding classroom codes of conduct, the procedures that will be followed in a classroom, for example, class work as well as homework policies and handing in of assignments and other work materials, how to deal with failure to observe the rules and regulations, grading criteria, and home and school communication. The action plan will also ensure consistency when dealing with parents ( Fiedler & Väljataga 2011).
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The final step considered in the plan will be taking risks and growing. Co- teaching will allow the students and the teachers to take risks, learn from each other and grow together. Taking risk involves trying new ideas or teaching methods in the class. In this case, instructors will help each other in case of a situation where a new method fails to work (Bergren, 2011). Single teachers in class typically have trouble when the class bombs, sometimes they may be forced to stop and later on carry out an analysis on possible reasons of class failure (Hwang & Evans, 2011).
In conclusion, the co-teaching plan will ensure that the process takes place in a manner that will yield maximum results. All the participants will be encouraged to take part in improving its effectiveness by working hard, taking risks, as well as enjoying the benefits of the co-teaching process. It is important to note that this teaching style is not difficult to adopt as long as there is proper planning to handle all the necessities.