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Why do we co-teach?

When you picture a classroom environment and teacher, what image comes to your mind? Do you see a single teacher presenting information to a group of students rapt in attention? At Thrive, our teaching style looks very different from that of a traditional classroom.

Previously, we taught together in the only two sections of 3rd grade in a K-8 school. During this time, we fell into a very natural pattern of co-teaching. We brought to our classrooms a variety of tools and experiences from previous jobs, and found an organic give and take.

This spanned from specific academic areas (we rotated classes, with Amanda teaching math and Melissa teaching science), to more mundane tasks (we co wrote a weekly newsletter and sat together to do report cards). But it also included non academic activities and things that weren’t listed on our job descriptions. We easily slid into co-teaching activities in a variety of situations: when one of us wasn’t feeling well, when we had a student who wasn’t responding to one of us and needed a new voice, when we were feeling low on energy and needed to mix things up, or when one of us had a passion or expertise in a specific topic.

What we realized is that in a lot of ways our previous teaching experiences prior to this had been lonely. It was lacking in adult conversation as well as isolating in teaching practice and exposure to alternative ideas.

At Thrive, using co-teaching is a natural part of our model and looks different based on the day and the students:

Benefits of this flexible approach to co-teaching:

  • Observing another person teach and learn new techniques

  • Capitalizing on our strengths when working with students

  • Chances to observe, give and receive feedback

  • Offering different voices and perspectives to students and families

  • Opportunities to model different strengths and weaknesses

  • Modeling an adult relationship and friendship

  • Joint problem solving and a “divide and conquer” of workload

One of the most impactful parts of this co-teaching experience has been a joy-filled experience. At Thrive we share the gift of laughter together often. We are able to high five when our students make growth, we laugh together as we share a silly story, we make quiet eye contact of excitement as we observe kids persevering and problem solving. We believe that this joyful experience makes all the difference for our community as we all learn together.

We’ve found that co-teaching has been extremely beneficial for us and for our students. In recent years, there has been a lot of conversation about the workload of teachers in mainstream schools. Teachers are asked to carry students academic, social, and emotional loads. Here at Thrive, we have the chance to work together to share in these hard parts as well as the joy.

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