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Thursday, February 18, 2021

by Matt Christensen

Five clear benefits to the multi-teacher classroom

Every classroom, whether general or special ed., is full of challenges and opportunities. Among these is the unique task of being able to engage students on a whole-class level, as well as in ways that appeal to their unique strengths and address their needs as individuals.

Co-teaching is more than just “two teachers, one classroom.” It’s a model of shared responsibility that allows for professional collaboration during planning, instructing, and assessing students. In any classroom setting, co-teaching allows students and teachers to experience and benefit from a wide range of learning styles, teaching techniques, and data-driven instruction, while promoting inclusion and a sense of community among a unique group of people working toward the same goals of success and growth.

“By using a co-teaching model, our intervention specialists are able to rely on each other to differentiate learning for our students,” says Jodi Johnston, Principal and Director of Admissions at Julie Billiart’s Lyndhurst campus. “One intervention specialist can be leading the lesson, while the other intervention specialist is redirecting, providing needed support, or collecting data. This approach benefits our students because it provides more personalized instruction, which allows us to see how those supports are working and what may need to be adjusted.”

Benefits of the co-teaching model are numerous, but there are five that can directly impact the day-to-day and long term progress of your student.

1. Reduced teacher-to-student ratio

JB models classrooms so that two teachers educate a maximum of 16 students, resulting in a 1:8 teacher:student ratio. This ratio is 1:6 in grades K-2 at JB. According to the Education Commission of the United States, the average ideal teacher:student ratio in all classrooms is 1:15. 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.

2. Increased instructional options

When two teachers facilitate a classroom community, students are able to connect with each one differently. Co-teaching affords both students and teachers more one-on-one / small group time during which they can bond more meaningfully, observe each other, and ultimately become aware of the most productive ways to interact. In addition, co-teaching allows for the co-planning process of lesson design to include insight from both instructors regarding how to reach students most effectively based on data taken during these small group sessions.

3. Greater student engagement time

“It’s great having a co-teacher because I can focus more on the content I’m teaching while the other teacher serves as a nonverbal prompter,” says Patrick Koenig, first grade intervention specialist. “While the lead co-teacher presents a lesson, the other co-teacher can float around the room while helping students follow the group plan and absorb the content more efficiently. Instead of letting students get distracted by needing to sharpen pencils, or having difficulty finding the correct page, the floating co-teacher helps them remain focused on the main points of the lesson, which is especially important at the primary level.”

4. Modeled teamwork

What better way to shape social skills than seeing two teachers work together? 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. Instead, the co-teachers instill the importance of such behaviors through their example, interactions with each other, and direction of the class.

5. Balance and time management

Teaching can be exhausting. But, to be an effective educator each day, a teacher has to be aware, alert, and engaged. The co-teaching model supports teachers in this way by allowing them to divide and conquer everything from daily routines, to progress reports and parent conferences, to grading papers. Having another adult in the classroom is essential for giving students the resources they need to succeed, avoiding wasted time, and establishing procedures that allow students to feel comfortable in any learning environment.

Thanks to the students and teachers who have passed through Julie Billiart’s halls, we’ve continued to refine the co-teaching model to be an effective tool in special education. To learn more about how Julie Billiart educators collaborate and cooperate in and out of the classroom, contact our admissions team at

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