Single Subject Program Co-Teaching Pilot

Posted by Pamela Van Halsema on October 17, 2012 2:07 PM

coteaching pilot group photo

The goal of the Single Subject Credential Program is to prepare candidates to be successful secondary teachers for California Public Schools. Achieving that goal requires a study in teaching theories and pedagogy, balanced with valuable practical experience working in classroom settings with a professional mentor. This year the Single Subject program is impementing a new model for student teaching, called co-teaching.

Dr. Karen Grady and Dr. Susan Victor have been working closely with teams of teachers and single subject candidates in five local schools for this pilot: Altamira Middle School in Sonoma, Elsie Allen High School in Santa Rosa, Petaluma Junior High School and Lawrence Jones Middle School in Rohnert Park. Teams from the schools came to Sonoma State campus and participated in special workshop so they will be ready to put the model into practice in Spring semester 2013. Grady hopes to expand the model to more schools in coming years.

Co-teaching is defined as two teachers (mentor teacher and teacher candidate) working together to teach groups of students - sharing the planning, organization, delivery and assessment of instruction, as well as the physical space. Co-teaching involves a continuing partnership where the lessons are all prepared collaboratively and taught as a team. Both teachers are actively involved and engaged in all aspects of instruction. This differs from the prevalent model of student teaching in secondary classrooms where student teachers are expected to solo teach for the entire semester of student teaching. In the co-teaching model student teachers both team teach with their mentors and solo teach.

Mike Lesch and a co-teaching team from Elsie Allen High

The co-teaching model has been used and evaluated nationwide, and shows benefits not only for beginning teachers, but benefits for student learning. One high school student remarked, "While one is teaching, the other comes around and asks if we need help. It makes it easier to get around to everybody." The research shows that this model enhances classroom management, supports different learning styles and increases student engagement and participation. Another student noted, "I think we learn more because there are two different teachers in the room - which means they teach different ways - which means they know different facts - which means you're going to learn a lot more."

Mentor teachers have a lot to gain from the model too. Teachers who have implemented co-teaching in their classrooms noted that not only do student teachers perform better through the collaboration, but that they themselves feel a new energy for teaching, have experienced professional renewal, and have been better able to try new things because they are working in a team.