Types of Co-Teaching

What are the five types of co-teaching?

Friend, Reising, and Cook (1993) identified five options teachers typically use when implementing a co-teaching model. As teams progress through these 5 types, it is important to remember these types are hierarchical across three variables. First, as you move down the continuum of models, more and more planning time together is needed. Second, as you progress in the models, teachers need an equal level of content knowledge to make the model work effectively. This equality of content knowledge can be the greatest barrier to team teaching at the secondary level. Third, as you move down the continuum, teachers must share the same philosophy of inclusion and have a level of trust and respect. Typically this level of trust and respect has to be built over time, which also is another reason it is sometimes difficult to team teach at the secondary level or in larger schools, if there is not consistency over time in building team support. Key aspects of each type of co-teaching are provided below.

Lead and Support

One teacher leads and another offers assistance and support to individuals or small groups. In this role, planning must occur by both teachers, but typically one teacher plans for the lesson content, while the other does specific planning for students' individual learning or behavioral needs.

Station Teaching

Students are divided into heterogeneous groups and work at classroom stations with each teacher. Then, in the middle of the period or the next day, the students switch to the other station. In this model, both teachers individually develop the content of their stations.

Parallel Teaching

Teachers jointly plan instruction, but each may deliver it to half the class or small groups. This type of model typically requires joint planning time to ensure that as teachers work in their separate groups, they are delivering content in the same way.

Alternative Teaching

One teacher works with a small group of students to pre-teach, re-teach, supplement, or enrich instruction, while the other teacher instructs the large group. In this type of co-teaching, more planning time is needed to ensure that the logistics of pre-teaching or re-teaching can be completed; also, the teachers must have similar content knowledge for one teacher to take a group and re-teach or pre-teach.

Team Teaching

Both teachers share the planning and instruction of students in a coordinated fashion. In this type of joint planning time, equal knowledge of the content, a shared philosophy, and commitment to all students in the class are critical. Many times teams may not start with this type of format, but over time they can effectively move to this type of co-teaching, if they have continuity in working together across 2-3 years.