Co-teaching is when two educators work together to plan, organize, instruct and make assessments on the same group of students, sharing the same classroom. This approach can be seen in several ways. Teacher candidates who are learning to become teachers are asked to co-teach with experienced associate teachers, whereby the classroom responsibilities are shared, and the teacher candidate can learn from the associate teacher. Regular classroom teachers and special education teachers can be paired in co-teaching relationships to benefit inclusion of students with special needs.
Recently, in Ontario the Full-Day Early Learning Kindergarten Program has been implemented where an Ontario Certified Teacher and a Registered Early Childhood Educator co-teach in a kindergarten classroom.
To evaluate the effectiveness of co-teaching, partnerships can use the Magiera-Simmons Quality Indicator Model of Co-Teaching, which gives standard definitions for co-teaching skills through 25 quality indicators and a rating scale. Co-teaching is often evaluated on the amount of shared leadership is present, the amount of co-planning time, honest communication between the two educators, and how much respect and trust is present in the relationship.
There are several models of co-teaching, identified by Friend and Cook (1996), including:
Research on the effectiveness of co-teaching has yielded mixed results.
As a delivery model for special education services, one study found important strategies were infrequently observed in this model, and the special education teacher played a subordinate role. Thomas E. Scruggs, Margo A. Mastropieri. George Mason University. "Co-Teaching in Inclusive Classrooms: A Metasynthesis of Qualitative Research" Exceptional Children July 2007 vol. 73 no. 4 392-416.
Another study reviewed student outcomes via a resource room model and co-teaching. It found resource room delivery superior in terms of academic progress. Other research has shown that the results of co-teaching benefit both the educators and the students. but the study lacked long-term data.
One author reviewed eight studies of students impressions of co-teaching, and found the majority preferred receiving services outside of the classroom for part of the day, noting they formed a better relationship with their special education teacher and understood content better in specialized instruction within a resource room.