There are many complicated things about teaching sex education but the most difficult for me has been learning to work with other people; other people that have different ideas about what education looks like. This is something that teachers no matter what they teach face when they are co-teaching. It takes a special set of skills to work with someone you do not necessarily agree with on a regular basis.
There are a lot of times that co- teaching can be advantageous to both the students and the teachers. The students can learn from two or more teachers that may have different ways of teaching the same material. The teachers have more support when co-teaching. They are able to share both their success on their good days and their hard days (Hurley-Chamberlain & Friend, 2010). To figure out how to co-teach effectively you first have to know what co- teaching is not. The first being the most obvious co-teaching is not a process where each teacher teaches a different subject and there is no communication between the two teachers.
It is not co-teaching when one teacher’s ideas and thoughts are the only ones used in teaching the students. This has a tendency to happen when one of the co-teachers is older and has been teaching the topic longer than the other teacher (Hurley-Chamberlain & Friend, 2010). This is an example of a power dynamic that is not helpful to the co-teaching process.
So now that we have touched on what co-teaching is NOT we need to look at what it really is. Co teaching is two or more teachers that are sharing the responsibility for teaching one group of student’s specific content. There is a need for communication and trust in order for co-teaching to be a successful venture.
Cook (2004) came up with some elements to the cooperative process of co-teaching. The first element is Face to face interactions. Co-teachers have to decide when where and how often they are going to meet. They are also going to have to decide how much of that meeting time will be during school hours. They also need to develop a way to communicate between meetings.
Positive interdependence is also something that is essential to the cooperative working of co-teaching. There needs to be a feeling that the teachers are each individually responsible for all of the students learning and that they are pooling their knowledge and skills for the benefit of the students that they are teaching.
Interpersonal skills include the both the verbal and nonverbal components of communication and of trust-building. They are also useful skills in conflict management and creative problem solving. Effective co-teaching and any partnerships in general encourages each member to improve their social skills. Without this development co-teaching would be at a disadvantage.
Monitoring the progress is important in any partnership and any teaching adventure. It is equally important when dealing with co-teaching because both teachers have to be on the same page about improvements in the classroom.
Individual accountability is very important because each person has to be personally accountable for what they have agreed to do and contribute to the learning process for these students.
I believe that if some of these elements are taken into consideration then co-teaching can be a great experience and be great for both the students and the teachers, but if they are not then I think a co-teaching experience can be very draining and unproductive. (Hurley-Chamberlain & Friend, 2010)
cook, L. (2004). Co-Teaching: Principles, Practices and Pragmatics. California State University , 2-33.
Hurley-Chamberlain, D., & Friend, M. (2010). Is Co-Teahcing Effective? Retrieved April 9, 2011, from Council for Exceptional Children: http://www.cec.sped.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Home&TEMPLATE=/CM/ContentDisplay.cfm&CONTENTID=7504