Two teachers working together with groups of students; sharing the planning, organization, delivery and assessment of instruction, as well as the physical space (Bacharach, Heck and Dank, 2005)
Co-Teaching is not a new phenomenon. Co-Teaching between two licensed teachers began in the early 70’s with the advent of Public Law 94-142 (now IDEA). Co-teaching provided a structure by which a general and special educator could work together (co-teach) to deliver instruction (Cook & Friend, 1995). Co-Teaching between two licensed teachers expanded to include content teachers, various intervention specialists, and multilingual teachers (EL).
This early model of co-teaching has also been applied to the student teaching experience where a cooperating teacher and teacher candidate co-teach in a classroom setting. Early research done at St. Cloud State University, found that K-6 students co-taught in math and reading, by a cooperating teacher and teacher candidate, statistically outperformed students in a classroom with a teacher candidate utilizing a more traditional approach, and outperformed students in classrooms where there was no student teacher (Bacharach, Heck & Dahlberg, 2010).
The outcome allowed St. Cloud State University to reexamine their traditional model and provided an innovative and effective model of student teaching. Through co-planning and co-teaching, cooperating teachers allow teacher candidates time to develop and practice all aspects of teaching with help and support. As the experience progresses, pairs seamlessly alternate between leading and assisting with planning, instructing, and assessing. Classroom teachers partner with teacher candidates rather than “giving away” responsibility. Co-teaching pairs are not expected to use co-teaching for every lesson but rather to determine when specific co-teaching strategies would be most useful in assisting student learning.
Qualitative data was collected from cooperating teachers, teacher candidates, and P12 learners involved in the project. Overwhelmingly, all three groups of stakeholders identified positive benefits of a co-teaching model of student teaching (Bacharach, Heck, and Dahlberg; 2010, Heck & Bacharach, 2010).