Lower Student-to-Teacher Ratio
With two teachers in the classroom, the student-to-teacher ratio is lower. This means that very rarely does a student have to wait with his or her hand raised to ask a question. Every student is getting the individual help he or she needs without having to compete for the attention of one teacher among 20+ students. With two teachers in the room, we can answer more questions, monitor behavior more closely, and work with students one-on-one or in small groups for longer periods of time. This means that students with special needs get the individualized attention they deserve without being segregated from their peers, and general education students get extra attention and assistance they need. All students benefit from more interaction with their teacher.
Two Heads Are Better Than One
When co-teachers work collaboratively, amazing things can happen. When I co-taught in a language arts classroom, I was a new teacher and my co-teacher was a veteran. I brought new and fresh ideas on how to utilize project-based learning and differentiation. She brought extensive knowledge of content and classroom management strategies. Together we tried new things and improved on aspects that had worked before. We broadened our horizons and tried new novel units. The students experienced a language arts classroom like they had never had before. Separately, neither of us could have implemented such a dynamic classroom environment. It was only together that we could really stretch ourselves and grow as teachers, which had positive implications for every student in our classroom.
More Differentiated Learning
Differentiation means that every student is being challenged at his or her appropriate level. This involves designing lessons and materials to meet the needs of students who are struggling, the students in the middle, and the students who need more of a challenge. With two teachers, they are better able to meet the needs of the struggling students while pushing the higher achieving students ahead, and still assisting and monitoring the students in the middle. Two bodies can work to meet more diverse needs than just one can.
Two Ways of Learning
Sometimes, a teacher will explain how to do a math problem a million times and a student just won’t get it. With co-teaching, another teacher can come along, explain the same problem in a completely different way, and the student will understand it. Co-teaching allows for two different explanations of concepts, which doubles the chance that students will understand at least one of the explanations. Co-teaching provides for one teacher to talk while the other writes, presenting auditory and visual inputs. It offers two personalities in the room, increasing the chance that students will personally connect with a teacher. Everyone learns differently, and having two teachers allows for a broader range of teaching techniques, which increases the ability to meet all the different learning styles.
There are many additional benefits of co-teaching. Unfortunately, all of this doesn’t mean you can throw two teachers into a room and get a wonderfully co-taught experience. Co-teaching is a lot of work. Both teachers must want to put in the effort and be willing to equally share their classroom. Both teachers should want to co-teach together. They need to get along and have similar philosophies on education. However, when given the right people and the right conditions, co-teaching can be an amazing situation for every student.