Co-Teaching: The Power of Two Teachers

Co-Teaching: The Power of Two Teachers

by  Kendra Engl, EAL Team Leader/MYP Language and Literature Teacher

We are fortunate at YIS to have co-teaching entrenched in all divisions for English as an Additional Language (EAL). Co-teaching has made it possible for two teachers working together to plan, teach, assess and reflect to best support the language and content instruction being taught in every lesson to every child in the class. At the elementary level, co-teaching is taking place from grades 1-5. In secondary, the EAL teacher is working with different teachers from grades 6-12 in various units or on writing tasks. This year, we have introduced coaching in the area of language acquisition which is available for all teachers at our school. Through coaching, teachers can work on improving student learning through implementing new ideas by reflecting on their own teaching practices. Co-teaching enriches the students and allows teachers to become stronger educators by learning from one another. At YIS, the fabric of students with different cultural and academic backgrounds creates a diverse community of learners.  Our teachers also come from different backgrounds, with varying perspectives, both of which enhance student learning.

One outdated approach to EAL was to have students who were learning English removed from the classroom to learn English as an isolated subject in a separate room. The modern approach to EAL has students stay in the regular classroom with all students learning the same content because language acquisition takes place when students are learning in their classrooms. An EAL teacher uses their experience and perspective to ensure that the academic language in a lesson allows each child to understand the content. The two teachers working together in a lesson form a close partnership, and may adapt their content and strategy for each lesson based on the requirements of the students in the class. The numerous co-teaching models from which teachers can choose provide flexibility for teachers to plan on how to work with all students for each lesson. 

Students have a richer learning experience because two experts work together to help all the students in the classroom. Co-teachers inherently model collaboration which students witness through the dialogue between their teachers. Co-teachers are constantly communicating with one another to adjust what they need to do to help the students learn and reflect on the next steps of learning. One benefit is that students’ needs are met through differentiated instruction that is tailored to help all students. Students in the classroom receive extra attention and more feedback on how to improve from their teachers. 

If you have any questions about our EAL Program, please contact department Head, Kendra Engl.