6 Co-Teaching Models (2023)

As more schools move toward inclusion, integrated co-teaching (also known as collaborative team teaching) is becoming more common. However, not all teachers are familiar with co-teaching models, the planning and collaboration it takes, or the different ways it can look in a classroom.

Co-teachers are often general education teachers and special education teachers working together in the general education classroom. You plan lessons together and teach together to support the diverse academic and social-emotional needs of all students— those who have been identified as having a disability and those who haven’t.

Studies show that this co-teaching can successfully meet the needs of all learners when the co-teachers:

  • Have ample time to build a trusting relationship with one another
  • Have shared planning time
  • Each have the chance to use their expertise in the classroom

There are six basic models of co-teaching. Read on to learn how each model works, what it looks like in the classroom, and when to use it. You’ll also learn about the benefits and challenges of each co-teaching model.

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  • 6 Co-Teaching Models (1)

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1. Team teaching

(Video) 6 Models of Co-Teaching

In team teaching, both teachers are in the room at the same time but take turns teaching the whole class. Team teaching is sometimes called “tag team teaching.” You and your co-teacher teacher are a bit like co-presenters at a conference or the Oscars. You don’t necessarily plan who takes which part of the lesson, and when one of you makes a point, the other can jump in and elaborate if needed.

Team teaching can make you feel vulnerable. It asks you to step outside of your comfort zone and allow another teacher to see how you approach a classroom full of students. However, it also gives you the opportunity to learn about and improve your teaching skills by having a partner who can provide feedback and— in some cases— mentorship.

In team teaching, as well as the five other co-teaching models below, a teacher team may be made up of two general education teachers, two special education teachers, or one of each. Or, in some cases, it may be a teacher and a paraprofessional working together. Some IEPs specify that a student’s teaching team needs to include a general education teacher and a special education teacher.

Here’s what you need to know about the team teaching method:

What it looks like in the classroom

Both teachers teach at the front of the room and move about to check in with students (as needed).

  • Provides both teachers with an active instructional role

  • Introduces students to complementary teaching styles and personalities

  • Allows for lessons to be presented by two different people with different teaching styles

  • Models multiple ways of presenting and engaging with information

  • Models for students what a successful collaborative working relationship can look like

  • Provides more opportunitiesto pursue teachable moments that may arise

  • Takes time and trust for teachers to build a working relationship that values each teacher equally in the classroom

  • Necessitates a lot of planning time and coordination of schedules

  • Requires teachers to have equal involvement not just in planning, but also in grading, which means assignments need to be evaluated using a rubric or other non-subjective methods

When to use itWhen students would benefit from learning content and skills using multiple strategies and having access to more than one teacher’s experience and perspective

2. Parallel teaching

In parallel teaching, the team splits the class into two groups and each teacher teaches the same information at the same time. Parallel teaching works well to differentiate instruction when the content being taught is particularly challenging. Students can benefit from learning difficult material in a smaller group.

Parallel teaching can be a comfortable way to start co-teaching. You and your co-teacher plan together to make sure you’re covering the same material. And since you’re teaching your half of the class, you’re less likely to feel closely observed by your colleague. Here’s a closer look at parallel teaching:

What it looks like in the classroom The class is divided into two groups, and both teachers teach the same information simultaneously in different sections of the room.
  • Provides both teachers with an active instructional role

  • Lowers the student-teacher ratio and reduces the load of teaching a large class

  • Allows for small group instruction, which can be especially helpful for students who learn and think differently

  • Gives students the chance to ask more questions during lesson time

  • Provides a chance for students to work in heterogeneous groups (made up of varying abilities instead of groups of students with similar strengths and challenges)

  • Keeps the academic rigor of a demanding lesson, but splits the responsibility between both teachers

  • Requires both teachers have strong knowledge of the content so students will learn the same thing

  • Can be challenging to control for noise, distraction, and space when working in the same classroom

  • Requires careful timing to make sure both teachers end the lesson at the same time

When to use it

When teachers have equal content expertise and there’s a lot of information being covered in one lesson

(Video) Essential Elements - The Six Models of Co-Teaching

3. Station teaching

In station teaching, the class is divided into three or more groups and the classroom has multiple learning centers. As the students rotate through the stations, the teachers teach the same material in different ways to each group. For example, fractions may be taught with a fraction line at one and with cubes at another. If there are more stations than teachers, some stations may be student-led and at least one will focus on independent work or practice opportunities.

Both you and your co-teacher are responsible for planning and teaching an in-depth concept that helps meet the overall lesson goal. Learn more about station teaching:

What it looks like in the classroom Different learning stations are set up in various areas of the classroom, one for each teacher and at least one for independent student work.
  • Provides both teachers with an active instructional role

  • Allows teachers to use flexible grouping to tailor teaching to each groups’ needs

  • Lowers the student-teacher ratio

  • Resets student focus with each station rotation, increasing engagement

  • Provides time for students to engage with the content on their own as well as with teachers

  • Supports a UDL approach to teaching

  • Allows for more material to be covered in a shorter time frame

  • Provides a clear teaching responsibility for each adult in the room

  • Requires significant planning for teaching and material preparation

  • Students may not get to all of the stations if they’re not moving at the same pace

  • May be noisy and distracting for some students

  • Requires pre-teaching around expectations for independent work time

When to use it

When co-teachers have varying depths of knowledge on a topic and the students would benefit from differentiated instruction

4. Alternative teaching

In alternative teaching, one teacher instructs most of the class and the other teacher teaches an alternate or modified version of the lesson to a smaller group of students. Alternative teaching is also sometimes described as “big group/small group” teaching.

Small groups are often put together based on students’ learning needs. You and your co-teacher will need to find time to look over student data. This will help you figure out which students need support filling in gaps in background knowledge, which students need remediation, or which students could benefit from accelerated learning because they already know the content or have mastered the skills of the large group lesson. Here’s more of what you need to know about alternative teaching:

What it looks like in the classroom

One teacher is at the front of the room or roaming providing large group instruction, while the other teacher works with a small group of students in a different space.

  • Provides both teachers with an active instructional role

  • Allows for a lower student-teacher ratio

  • Provides additional support to struggling students without specifically singling them out

  • Gives a chance to re-teach, review, and pre-teach

  • Allows for intervention as well as enrichment opportunities

  • Lets teachers use flexible groups

  • Requires strong data collection in order to group students appropriately

  • May make students feel self-conscious, especially if they’re often in the small group

  • Can be challenging to control for noise, distraction, and enough space when working in the same classroom

  • Needs careful planning to make sure students don’t miss material being taught to the large group

When to use it

When there is a small group of students who need pre- or re-teaching of skills or content or who would benefit from enrichment on the topic.

(Video) 6 Co-Teaching Models: Engaging all Learners Through Push-in Support

5. One teach, one assist

In the “one teach, one assist” model of co-teaching, one teacher teaches a full group lesson, while the other teacher roams and helps individual students. This is sometimes called “one teach, one support,” because the second teacher often provides additional support for learning or behavior management.

This model of co-teaching can be difficult to negotiate because it may leave one teacher feeling more like an assistant. Building a strong relationship with your co-teacher and talking through when it makes sense to swap roles can make it easier. That’s key to making sure that both of you have a chance to teach content and to provide support to students one-on-one.

Debriefing after a lesson is also key. Both of you need to know which students needed extra support during the lesson, what that support looked like, and what each student was struggling with. Here’s what you need to know about this co-teaching method:

What it looks like in the classroom

The lead teacher is at the front of the room, where all students can see, while the other teacher roams among students and assists as needed.

  • Allows one teacher to teach a lesson without interruption from students who need assistance

  • Gives real-time help for students who need it

  • Allows teachers to use proximity to keep students on task

  • Provides for increased classroom management, which can be helpful if the class makeup is particularly challenging

  • Can provide newer teachers with the opportunity to observe more experienced teachers

  • Can create a dynamic in which students see one teacher as the one who manages behavior

  • Can appear as though one teacher is more “in charge” than the other

  • Sets up a possible expectation that one-to-one support can always be immediate

  • Requires solid planning to make sure the supporting teacher is used efficiently

When to use it

When one teacher is more familiar and comfortable with teaching a strategy, and you know many students will need individual support

6. One teach, one observe

In a “one teach, one observe” setting, one teacher serves as the primary instructor, while the other is simply observing students’ learning and collecting data, which can be useful in:

  • Determining what instruction takes place next
  • Seeing which students need additional help
  • Deciding what co-teaching model may be used next to address any identified needs
  • Identifying and tracking helpful school services, such as , , (FBA), (BIP),or (RTI)
What it looks like in the classroom

The instructing teacher is at the front of the room teaching all the students, while the other teacher is stationed somewhere inconspicuousto make observations.

  • Allows for uninterrupted observation and data collection

  • Provides data that can inform future instruction, interventions, and student grouping

  • Can create a dynamic in which students see one teacher as the “real” teacher

  • Can make it difficult for co-teachers to build a strong partnership

  • Loses instructional opportunities in a true co-taught classroom

When to use itWhen something specific needs to be observed, whether it’s information for an IEP meeting, FBA, or RTI, or simply about how students respond to the way material is being taught
(Video) Co-Teaching & Teacher Collaboration

Making co-teaching work

Co-teaching definitely has benefits, but it can also be challenging to implement. It can be especially hard for new teachers who are paired up with teachers who have more experience, or for co-teachers whose teaching philosophies differ from each other. But there are several steps you can take to help make co-teaching work:

1. Plan who’s doing what. No matter which co-teaching model you use, you and your co-teacher need to thoughtfully plan out which responsibilities each of you will have. Planning is vital to your success as a co-teaching team.

2. Agree on expectations. Having a conversation before the year begins about your expectations for students, behavior, homework, bathroom use, etc., can help you work out any differences you may have and come to a consensus for how your shared class will run.It’s also essential that both teachers share behavior management equally. Avoiding a “good cop/bad cop” situation can make it easier to maintain a positive classroom culture.

3. Understand the needs of all of your students. It’s critical that both you and your co-teacher understand the needs of all of your students, including those who learn and think differently. Knowing how to read an IEP or 504 plan, implement accommodations, and participate in IEP meetings is a shared responsibility.

4. Use signposting. Making sure both of your names appear on the door, on assignments, and in the classroom can also help your students see you as the team you are.

5. Keep setting aside time to collaborate. Planning and reflecting on the lessons you teach together is especially important. Keeping lines of communication open, raising concerns respectfully, and having a supportive and involved administrator can help bridge any gaps.

    Related topics

    • School supports

      (Video) Co Teaching Models: Strategies and Planning


    6 Co-Teaching Models? ›

    They include: one teach, one support; parallel teaching; alternative teaching; station teaching; and team teaching.

    What are the 5 types of co-teaching models? ›

    They include: one teach, one support; parallel teaching; alternative teaching; station teaching; and team teaching.

    How many co-teaching models are there? ›

    There are six basic models of co-teaching. Read on to learn how each model works, what it looks like in the classroom, and when to use it. You'll also learn about the benefits and challenges of each co-teaching model.

    What are various model of cooperative teaching? ›

    Station teaching, parallel teaching, alternative teaching, and team teaching are effective models of collaborative teaching which will enhance student and teacher learning. We hope to support teacher efforts in the use of different inclusive teaching strategies by providing examples to try in your classroom.

    What is the co-teaching model of inclusion? ›

    Co-teaching is often implemented with general and special education teachers paired together as part of an initiative to create a more inclusive classroom. Inclusion is “a belief system that embraces the reality that diverse individuals are included within a positive learning environment. ” (Stein, 2016, p.

    What are the four main co-teaching approaches? ›

    Four Approaches. Co-teaching has many faces. In a national survey, teachers experienced in teaching in a diverse classrooms reported that they used four approaches to co-teaching – supportive, parallel, complementary, and team teaching (National Center for Educational Restructuring and Inclusion, 1995).

    What are the 4 models of effective teaching? ›

    The 4 major teacher evaluation models and what they can do
    • The Value-Added Model (VAM) In basic terms, VAM measures how a certain teacher contributes to the progress of their students. ...
    • Teacher observations. ...
    • The Framework Model. ...
    • The Marzano Focused Teacher Evaluation Model.
    Oct 29, 2018

    What is the most effective co-teaching model? ›

    Team Teaching is when two teachers are simultaneously teaching content together in the classroom. Many consider this the most effective form of co-teaching, but it is also the most time-consuming.

    What are the elements of co-teaching? ›

    When establishing a co-teaching relationship, there are three important factors which must be considered: parity, planning, and partnership. Both teachers are equally valuable members of the classroom. It is important to make sure others (e.g. students, other faculty/staff, administrators, parents) know this.

    Why use co-teaching models? ›

    Collaboration and cooperation are at the heart of the co-teaching model, which allows the teachers to model appropriate behavior while interacting with one another. With effective co-teaching, students are exposed to daily lessons in encouragement, politeness, teamwork, and support without ever having to open a book.

    What are the models of teaching type? ›


    How do co-teaching models support differentiated learning? ›

    Working in a differentiated classroom through a co-teaching model allows for smaller learning groups that can be easily facilitated and managed. Within each group, content is specifically tailored to meet individual learning needs.

    What are the three models of inclusion? ›

    Inclusion in education means that all students receive equal access to education. The three main models to include students with disabilities in mainstream classrooms are full inclusion, partial inclusion, and mainstreaming.

    What is the least effective co-teaching model? ›

    The least effective models are One Teach/One Observe and One Teach/One Assist, which tend to be the most commonly practiced models. Station Teaching, Parallel Teaching, Alternative Teaching, and Team Teaching can increase co-teaching effectiveness by up to 33%.

    What is lead and support co-teaching model? ›

    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.

    What is the 4 C's model education? ›

    According to the report, the cornerstone of becoming a successful learner at any age comes down to the four C's: critical thinking, collaboration, creativity and communication.

    What are 5 advantages of co-teaching? ›

    The main advantages of co-teaching include better reliability in information transmission and problem solving, intensification of teachers' cooperation, their mutual enrichment and education, higher learning efficiency, better classroom atmosphere, better recording of observations during teaching, higher motivation ...

    What are 5 disadvantages of co-teaching? ›

    MORE, ...
    • People need to go at different speeds. ...
    • Someone may try to take over the group. ...
    • Quiet people may not feel comfortable. ...
    • Sometimes people just don't get along. ...
    • People may not pull their weight. ...
    • It is not fair! ...
    • A concept may not be understood as well if a person doesn't have to figure it out.

    What are the characteristics of successful co-teaching? ›

    Co-teachers need to have flexibility, a strong work ethic, and the ability to share responsibilities with confidence.

    What is the effectiveness of co-teaching? ›

    Co-teaching is an effective inclusive teaching strategy for students with and without a disability. Research studies have shown that students greatly benefited from having two teachers in the classroom to provide extra support.

    What is the difference between co-teaching and collaboration? ›

    What is the difference between collaboration and co-teaching? Co-teaching is defined as the collaboration between teachers. Why is co-teaching such an exciting opportunity? Co-teaching provides rich resources and learning opportunities for a diverse group of students.

    What are the 6 principles of cooperative learning? ›

    The eight principles are heterogeneous grouping, teaching collaborative skills, group autonomy, maximum peer interactions, equal opportunity to participate, individual accountability, positive interdependence and cooperation as a value.

    What are the 7 key concepts of cooperative learning? ›

    The seven keys work together to create an ideal learning environment conducive to cooperative learning. The seven keys include structures, teams, management, class building, team building, social skills, and basic principles (PIES).

    What are the 7 principles and practices of cooperative? ›

    Cooperative Principles
    • Open and Voluntary Membership. ...
    • Democratic Member Control. ...
    • Members' Economic Participation. ...
    • Autonomy and Independence. ...
    • Education, Training, and Information. ...
    • Cooperation Among Cooperatives. ...
    • Concern for Community.
    Dec 1, 2016

    What are the 8 principles of cooperative learning? ›

    The eight principles are heterogeneous grouping, teaching collaborative skills, group autonomy, maximum peer interactions, equal opportunity to participate, individual accountability, positive interdependence and cooperation as a value.

    What is the most popular form of cooperative learning? ›

    The most popular and most utilized of the cooperative learning strategies is probably the Think-Pair-Share technique. This is where students think about a topic or question, then pair up with a classmate and share their thoughts about it.

    What are the 5 standards of effective pedagogy cooperative learning? ›

    The Five Standards for Effective Pedagogy are:
    • Teachers and Students Producing Together. ...
    • Developing Language and Literacy Across the Curriculum. ...
    • Making Lessons Meaningful. ...
    • Teaching Complex Thinking. ...
    • Teaching through Conversation.

    What is the Cruickshank model of teaching? ›

    Cruickshank's Model

    Mitzel contributed the concept of classifying variables as "product, process, or presage" (Cruickshank, p. 17). Product is learning on the part of the student (change in behavior or behavior potential) while process involves interaction between student and teacher.

    What are the 6 levels of organizational inclusion? ›

    • The Excluding Organization. - Management, staff, and volunteers represent the dominant group only. ...
    • The Passive Club. - Policies, procedures, and practices reflect dominant value system. ...
    • Token Acceptance. ...
    • Symbolic Equity. ...
    • Substantial Equity. ...
    • The Including Organization.

    What are the 4 different types of level of inclusion? ›

    The 4 Stages of Inclusion
    • Stage One: Exclusion. No effort is being made. ...
    • Stage Two: Segregation. The children are allowed into a class but are kept separate from the mainstream. ...
    • Stage Three: Integration. The children are in a mainstream setting occasionally or permanently. ...
    • Stage Four: Inclusion.
    Jul 8, 2020

    What are the 3 curriculum design models? ›

    There are three models of curriculum design: subject-centered, learner-centered, and problem-centered design.

    What are the different types of modeling teaching? ›

    Model Types: Conceptual, physical demonstrations, mathematical and statistical, and visualization. This page briefly describes different kinds of models and provides links to more specific information about each of them.

    What are the basic teaching models? ›

    The four parts of the model represent the basic divisions. Box A denotes Instructional objectives, Box B includes entering behavior, Box C deals with instructional procedure, and finally Box D relates to performance assessment.

    What is effective co-teaching? ›

    By employing a co-teaching model, a classroom with a maximum of 16 students essentially cuts that ratio in half, allowing for more individualized attention, less potential for distraction, and greater student engagement on both individual and whole group levels.

    How many elements of cooperative teaching are there? ›

    There are five fundamental elements involved in cooperative learning. In fact, these five elements distinguish cooperative learning from other forms of group learning.

    What is co constructing teaching strategies? ›

    Co-construction implies teamwork between teacher and student; it works well for teachers and students to take over from each other and work together to run the lesson, to deal with questions and support individuals. Setting homework is a key element – the students love setting homework and providing feedback.

    What is the biggest challenge in co-teaching? ›

    It can be challenging for both co-educators to feel they have equal rights for all students. Also, teachers may become attached to the same student or devise different strategies to teach a particular student. When such a clash of interest occurs, co-teaching can be quite demanding.

    What are the 4 types of models? ›

    9 types of modelling explained
    • Runway models. A runway model works most commonly on the catwalk, which is the runway at fashion shows where designers showcase their work, such as a new clothing line. ...
    • Fashion/editorial models. ...
    • Commercial models. ...
    • Photographers. ...
    • Textile designers.
    May 11, 2023

    What are the 7 principles of teaching? ›

    The 7 Principles of Teaching – Engage Education |
    • Principle one: Encourage contact between students and faculty. ...
    • Principle two: Develop reciprocity and cooperation among students. ...
    • Principle three: Encourage active learning. ...
    • Principle four: Give prompt feedback. ...
    • Principle five: Emphasise time on task.
    Mar 10, 2023

    What are the major three types of modeling used? ›

    The three types of modeling in UML are as follows:
    • Structural modeling: - It captures the static features of a system. - It consists of the following diagrams: ...
    • Behavioral modeling: - It describes the interaction within the system. ...
    • Architectural modeling: - It represents the overall framework of the system.

    What are the three models of teaching and learning? ›

    Basic teaching models include direct instruction, lecture and inquiry-based learning.

    What is modern models of teaching? ›

    Out of these, collaborative learning, flipped classroom, self-learning and crossover learning are the four modern teaching methods that are widely used in higher education.


    1. Co-Teaching in Inclusive Classrooms, Grades K-6, Part I: Whole Group Structures and Strategies
    2. Co Teaching Models
    (Decker Middle School)
    3. 6 Co-teaching Models: Engaging all Learners through Push-in Support
    (Collections of a Special EDucator)
    4. Co-Teaching Top Ten Tips Video
    (The Co-Teaching Cocoon)
    5. Team Teaching
    (School of Education - CSU, Chico)
    6. Alternative (Differentiated) Teaching
    (School of Education - CSU, Chico)


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