Co-Teaching for English Learners

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‘Teacher collaboration is not an option: It’s a must’ when a book starts out with this key message you know that you are going to be reading something that will be of great value to you.

Co-Teaching for English Learners is available to buy from Amazon (in the UK) by clicking on this link.

It is an essential read for any EAL specialist and mainstream teacher that has the opportunity to work collaboratively to deliver highly effective teaching for EAL learners at all levels of proficiency. I would also argue that a co-teaching relationship between EAL specialists and mainstream teachers can benefit monolingual learners as well.

Chapter 1 starts with the quote that started this review ‘Teacher collaboration is not an option: It’s a must’ In the UK right now we seem to be moving away from co-teaching and this is a great shame and concern to me as an EAL specialist. The skills and knowledge that both EAL and mainstream teachers bring to our classrooms is of great benefit to all our the learners in our classrooms both EAL and non EAL. Chapter 1 gives an overview to co-teaching and discusses the collaborative instructional cycle which is something that all co-teachers should try to abide by in their practice. The chapter also outlines essential skills that both teachers need to bring to their relationship including skills such as trust, collaboration and communication, and collective efficacy. As co-teachers it is essential that these ground rules are the set out as the basis for an effective co-teaching relationship to flourish.

Chapter 2 ‘Co-planning’ goes in to great deal about what is termed in the book as ‘the most important component of the collaborative instructional cycle.’ As the authors state ‘Co-teaching does not happen without it!’ The best co-teaching does not happen off the cuff or on the spot, for co-teaching to be of most benefit co-planning must happen. Chapter 2 highlights essential elements of collaborative planning, co-planning essentials, curriculum mapping and alignment, unit and lesson planning frameworks, a co-planning routine, increasing co-planning effectiveness and how we can use technology for effective co-planning. As well as these great sub headings what I like most about this chapter are the templates that we can use to enhance our co-teaching relationships. There are templates such as a ‘unit planning template, weekly planning template, and a daily lesson planning template.’ Of course, a lot of being able to use these templates depends on the time we are given to plan collaboratively but these templates give essential guidance on how effective co-planning should look. On time, the section on ‘use of technology for co-planning’ gives some great ideas about how we can overcome barriers of time restraints. There are no excuses for co-planning not to take place!

Chapters 3 – 9 gives in depth studies of the different models of co-teaching that we can use to deliver effective language and content integrated learning. Each chapter is set out in a similar format:

  • An intro to the model
  • A closer look at the model
  • Advantages of the model
  • Challenges of using the model
  • Strategies to use when using each co-teaching model (a great resource for teachers of EAL learners)
  • Variations for arranging classes for co-teaching and how to combine models effectively in the classroom

The chapters on the various models provide practitioners with a wide array of tools that can be directly applied to any classroom situation and in depth studies of these models can greatly enhance effective co-teaching in the mainstream classroom.

In my own teaching practice I have used a range of the models and have sometimes combined models with great success. An understanding of the models and how we can use them can only be of benefit to all of our learners.

Chapter 10 goes into detail about how we can collaboratively assess. The chapter discusses the huge benefits when teachers assess together and most importantly the benefits this has for our EAL learners. The chapter offers a framework for co-assessment, as well as some examples of how co-teachers can co-assess and, amongst other things what to assess when you collaboratively assess a learners work.

The last chapter of the book ‘Reflection: Closing the Collaborative Instructional Cycle…and starting a new one’ discusses how important it is for co-teachers to reflect together on their teaching. This is vital if we are to build strong co-teaching relationships that benefit learners in our classrooms. The chapter highlights some of the worthwhile conversations that co-teachers should have, how to solve problems that might arise, how to take actions based on your reflections and evaluating the effects that your co-teaching is having on your learners. As ever there are lots of templates that you can use when you reflect and one of my favourites is the ‘Co-planning Reflection Checklist’ that both teachers can go through.

Throughout the book there are QR codes that you can scan that take you to short videos in which both authors are interviewed and give you snippets of fantastic insight into different sections of the book. I re-watched a couple of these recently and they offer fascinating insights into some really useful topics. In addition, as mentioned, there are lots of strategies that you can use when you are developing your co-teaching relationship and the in-depth studies of the different co-teaching models will really help to refine your co-teaching relationship.

I highly recommend Co-Teaching for English Learners if you are looking at developing your co-teaching relationship. It could be a great resource for both EAL and mainstream / content teachers.

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