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Elementary Science

Co- Teaching

Author Post
Brennen Doebel Brennen Doebel 80 Points


I am Brennen Doebel and I am a pre-service teacher at Wartburg College. I would like to know how hard it is to do co-teaching with one of your fellow teachers in public school or if it is even beneficial. 

Natalie LoBianco Natalie LoBianco 3248 Points

Hello Brennen! My name is Natalie LoBianco and, like Kyle, am a pre-service teacher at the University of Northern Iowa. Similar to you, I was a little skeptical about co-teaching, thinking it would be like group projects in college: hard to manage at times, and leaves me questioning if it would be more beneficial if I could do an excellent job completing it on my own. My perspective has changed, however, through the co-teaching opportunities I have been given in a few of my college courses here at UNI.

For example, in my Teaching Elementary School Science course this semester, I was able to develop a 5-day mini-unit with three of my fellow pre-service teachers, and co-teach one of the days we developed to my fellow classmates. Developing an entire mini-unit seemed like such a daunting task to me at the beginning. There were so many components to think about along the way. These components included finding performance expectations from the Next Generation Science Standards, finding a phenomenon to drive our learning and curiosity throughout the week, creating essential questions and learning objectives from the performance expectations, identifying and addressing misconceptions the students may have about the topic area, and signifying what Disciplinary Core Ideas, Science and Engineering Practices, and Cross-Cutting Concepts made the learning three-dimensional. All of these components needed to be determined before we even began planning the five lessons.

While I know I have the ability to compose great lessons, I knew, for a project of this size, I could not accomplish this on my own this time around. I also realized that I will probably have the same feeling when I begin my first teaching position, and have to develop lessons and units from the curriculum I am given so it will better suit my students’ learning. This will overwhelm me, and you might feel the same way too. That is why collaborating with your fellow teachers--particularly those teaching the same grade level as you--through teacher planning meetings, where everyone is working together to create the same quality lessons to instruct their students, or opting to co-teach, is so beneficial. During this mini-unit development process alone, it was wonderful to be able to bounce ideas off of one another. As the collaboration progressed, each of my co-teachers and I had at least one component of the lesson that we came up with. I thought of the idea to do a unit on erosion, one of my co-teachers found the phenomenon we needed, and another one of my co-teachers thought of the lesson that we ended up teaching. Preparing lessons with co-teachers is also nice, because you are able to divide up some of the work amongst each other. Each person can focus on a component or two of the lesson, making sure it is the best it could be. Looking back, I never would have came up with all these ideas without my co-workers’ help, and the unit would not have been as well planned.

Not only does co-teaching, or working with fellow teachers in general, help with lesson planning purposes, it also helps with carrying out the lesson. When my group was teaching one of our lessons, it was very convenient and comfortable to have the option to alternate who led different parts of the lesson. We had one of us present our KLEWS chart and lead that discussion with our students, one of us introduce the main activity for the day, one of us provide instructions for the activity, and so on. This each portion of our lesson strong, since co-teaching allowed us to master one section of the lesson, and feel well prepared to lead it. Co-teaching this lesson was also nice, because while one of us was leading the lesson, the rest of us could manage classroom behavior or distribute materials. Once the students were engaging in the activity, we also were able to have one of us observing each table of students, allowing us to better assess if they were beginning to understand the concept.

After completing this project, I fully understand the meaning of “two heads are better than one”. Co-teaching brings twice as many wonderful ideas to the lesson planning table, twice as many hands to piece all of the lesson components together, and twice as many teachers to lead and observe the students. I hope you get an opportunity to co-teach during your college experience, and I hope me explaining my co-teaching experience helps you get perspective on the idea!

Spencer Westhoff Spencer Westhoff 2380 Points

Hi Brennen,

I'm also a pre-service teacher, studying elementary education at the University of Northern Iowa. I think the difficulty of co-teaching is all relative to who you're teaching with and how well you work together. I think to co-teach, you have to plan together and be on the exact same page--you can't both be telling a student asking the same question a different answer. If you and your co-teacher are in sync on what your expectations and plans are, I think it will run smoothly.

Personally, I really like co-teaching at the moment, but I believe that's most likely my relative lack of confidence when it comes to teaching. Right now, having another person helping me teach a lesson is helpful, as it provides support if I falter in the lesson at any point. However, I think as I progress and as I learn to run a classroom in my own way, I won't like co-teaching as much because it requires a lot of communication and planning time that I otherwise wouldn't need if I understand my goals and objectives with the lesson.

Therefore, I think co-teaching actually would be beneficial for all teachers from time to time. We've all had teachers that assign something that makes total sense to them, but none to us as the students. Co-teaching opportunities would help with that personal echo chamber in an educator's own head because it forces them to communicate and be on the same page with another educator, and the likelihood of a confusing or unclear objective(s) being taught is reduced.

Hope that helped you, and good luck in your future career!

Mr. Westhoff 

Kyle Skillings Kyle Skillings 4340 Points

Hey, I am Kyle Skillings, an elementary education major at the University of Northern Iowa. Co-teaching is as beneficial as the amount of work you and your co-teacher put in. If there's no effort given towards the idea of co-teaching, then you find your self in a disjunct situation or even butting heads with your co-teacher. The best things to think of when co-teaching is communication and planning. Who will be responsible for what aspect of the lesson? What are my objectives for the lesson? What is the lesson going to focus on? Establishing these and knowing your content will lead to a successful and efficient co-teaching experience. When I've had the opportunity to co-teach lessons at UNI, I have had nothing but positive experiences and improvement as a teacher. I hope this helps.

Leah Willie Leah Willie 1790 Points

Hello Brenen,

I am a preservice teacher at UNI in Cedar Falls, Iowa. I will tell you now that co-teaching is really nice because then you are getting the ideas of another person in the profession. As with any partnering/group setting, there will always be a few bumps in the road, but ultimately you and your co-teacher are there for each other to succeed. I believe it is very benefitial for the students as well because again, they get two perspectives on the topics. Plus, it keeps the class refreshed when it's not the same teacher all the time. This is a great opportunity to get and give feedback to each other. 


I hope this helps.

Miss Willie

Lorena Leal Lorena Leal 3025 Points

Hi Brennan,


Co-teaching has both positive and negative characteritics. Some of the pros are, students get more attentions since there are two teachers, there is a smaller student to teacher ratio, and teachers can share ideas with eachother since both teachers have different ideas to bounce off of eachother. The negative characteristics could be, the two teachers might not be a good match to teach together. and there is lack of time to prepare since there are two teachers. I think that co-teaching is more beneficial than not co-teaching, because both teachers can collaborate. 

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