Understanding The Two Teacher Model

Understanding  the Two Teacher Model

Also known as co-teaching, two teacher model is essentially a blended learning model.

It came out as a buzzword in the China EdTech market in mid-2016 and has surfaced again in the pandemic teaching times. The core philosophy of the approach is having two educators for all the teaching requirements. The practice is done as per teachers' needs or organizations' rule book. The practice works best when both the teachers involved in the model are equal. 

Traditionally, the primary purpose behind collaborative teaching is ensuring that students who need special education services are taught in the least restrictive environment (LRE). For most students who learn and think differently, the general education classroom is the LRE. 

In a co-teaching model, teachers work together to plan lessons, teach students, monitor student progress, and manage the class. The approach makes it easier for educators to focus on all students irrespective of their vivid needs and ensure that their learning goals are met. 

Some key benefits of the model are:

  • Reduced student-teacher ratio leading to more attention to students' learning need.
  • Enhanced collaboration among teachers and students.
  • Flexibility for educators to try new things in the classroom that they otherwise wouldn't have done alone.
  • Both the teachers can help and support each other and develop innovative activities and practices for students.
  • Increased instructional options for students.
  • Staff development and professional growth from collaboration and expanded professional network.

Watch out the video below to understand how the two-teacher model can be utilized in classrooms:

Co-teaching can be done at one's wish. When there are two teachers available for each class, responsibility is shared, flexibility and creativity increase, and it becomes easier for educators to do what they do. Also, there could be scenarios where they have to go by the school rule book and function as per organizations' instructions. Let's look at the possibilities of teaching in a two-teacher model.  

Marilyn Friend and Lynne Cook coin six approaches to co-teaching in their book, "Interactions: Collaboration Skills for School Professionals". Let's look at each of these below:

  • One Teach, One Observe

    This approach can help educators with classroom attention and improve students' performance significantly, especially in exceptional education cases. Under this method, both the teachers can pre-decide what specific observational information they want to gather from their students' behaviour and classroom performance. They can agree on a system to gather this information and analyze the results.
  • One Teach - One Assist

    This second approach may come in handy with early education classes. In this approach, one teacher would take up the responsibility to teach and take the lessons while the other can keep an eye on students' assistance needed in the classroom. This could help kids in their early age education when they're just learning to read and write.
  • Parallel Teaching

    Students enjoy group activities as they engage them, and the sense of competitiveness pushes them to do better. Educators usually conduct group discussions and debates to fill the classroom with enthusiasm and help students get on their best foot forward. However, one concern of doing these group activities is the reduced attention of the teacher. This is majorly due to the lack of assistance for the teacher to deal with two separate groups with so much information and ideas to offer. Having two educators in a classroom can help with such activities. In this approach, both the teachers cover the same information, but the students they are addressing are different. All students are divided into two groups, and each teacher gets to teach one of these groups simultaneously. This could be further extended by group discussions and debates that will help students understand and self – check their knowledge on any given topic. For educators, this will reduce the teaching workload and help them bring engagement into the classroom.
  • Station Teaching

    This approach allows teachers to divide content and students. Each teacher then takes up one group and teaches them the part of their content, while the other teacher does the same with the second group. The process is followed subsequently for all the divided content where both the teachers get to teach their part to both the groups. If students have a clear understanding of the topic, a third station could be provided to them, bringing the opportunity for them to work independently. This approach is best fit for higher classes and in subject areas that require practical demonstration.
  • Alternative Teaching

    Every classroom has a few students that need more attention and focuses for them to perform up to their potential. It's that extra effort from the teacher's end that makes all the difference. However, if there's only one teacher to take up all the students, it's unreal to expect them to teach students differently while ensuring that they can complete the curriculum on time. In this scenario, a co-teaching model can benefit both the students and the teachers. In alternative teaching, one teacher can take up the large group's responsibility and teach them at the pace they feel comfortable with while the other works with the group that needs the extra effort and attention.
  • Team Teaching

    This has to be the approach that depends on the teacher's teaching style. Under this approach, both teachers deliver the same lesson to the class at the same time. Many teachers refer to this method as having one brain in two bodies; others call it team teaching. This has to be the most complex style of co-teaching but also the satisfying way to teach. The approach can work wonders with kids in their storytelling classes and similar subjects, where teachers have to explain and narrate information to kids using the art of storytelling.

Additional Readings:

Collaboration in a Two-Teacher Model By Dana Hardt: This blog post comes from the horse's mouth, sharing the experience in a two-teacher model. She shares her journey, practices, lesson plans, classroom routine and a general overview of how the model works and how it helped her with the classroom teaching-learning needs. 

Team Teaching Tips And Options: This blog post by Kathleen Morris will give you complete insights on the co-teaching method. It covers benefits, tips, experiences, and more to understand what it is and how it works.

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About the Author
Author: Priyanka Gupta
Priyanka is a blogger by profession and has an increasing interest to write about the edtech space. While writing she keeps in mind the educators to come up with right resources and ideas which might be relevant for them in relation to effective use of technology in their profession and institutions/classrooms.
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