A Closer Look at “Co-Teaching”

Over the past few years in Melrose there has been a push to adapt classroom instruction to better address student learning.  “Meeting the Needs of All Learners” has brought assessments for gifted and talented, along with cluster grouping of those identified as G&T.  Additionally, many schools have adopted a “co-teaching” model of special education support, although the models are quite different across the district.

Co-teaching is when two licensed teachers share responsibility for teaching some or all of the students assigned to a classroom.  One teacher is typically a general ed teacher, and the other a special ed teacher.  The responsibilities for planning, instruction, and assessment are divided between these adults, and students benefit from the opportunity to learn from teachers who may have different ways of thinking, teaching, or interacting.   The key to co-teaching is the division of labor:  general educators are responsible for the content of the instruction and special educators are responsible for facilitating the learning process.

Any student can be in a co-taught classroom, and indeed these classrooms should contain heterogeneously grouped children.  These teachers utilize a variety of groupings, and both teachers work with all students.  All students have strengths and these are put to good use throughout the day!

Over the past two years Winthrop has had the student population to support fully co-taught classrooms at 1st grade and 2nd grade, while having partially co-taught classes  in 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades.  We  have had success with both models, as teachers spend more time planning and talking with each other about curriculum, learning strategies, and student growth.  As our students rise to the following grade each year, and that new group of kindergarten children get ready to join us, time is spent assessing the needs of our special education students, looking at staffing, and reconfiguring the make up of our classrooms.  Additionally, we look for ways to better utilize paraprofessionals, and increase support for struggling readers, writers, and/or mathematicians (who may or may not be on IEPs.)

The calendar is busy with school events and social functions, but please know that every day the Winthrop staff is actively planning and preparing for the fall of 2012!