Collaborative Teaching, by Maria Hutchinson This article originally appeared in Issue 49 of the UKEd Magazine. Click here to view.
Collaborative teaching can be defined as “two or more people sharing responsibility for educating some or all of the students in a classroom” (Villa, Thousand and Nevin, 2008, p. 5). They suggest that it “involves the distribution of responsibility among people for planning, instruction and evaluation for a classroom of students (p. 5).”
In this article, I will be describing how I have worked with two members of staff collaboratively as defined above and from the point of view of developing teaching through coaching – supporting the teacher in achieving a specific professional goal by providing training and guidance. I will also be referring to spot coaching – the process of exchange and continuous feedback between the client and coach.
As an education consultant, one of my roles is to coach teachers and model good practice. I was asked to work with teacher A on questioning, modelling and to develop strategies on how Year 4 pupils could up-level their work. The focus for teacher B was developing the teaching of reading in order for pupils to get to the expected standard by the end of Year 6.
The first part of collaborative teaching was to plan. Pupils were in the process of writing native American legends. They had already written the introduction. I suggested to the teacher the introductions could be used as a starter for a lesson. We chose four introductions and typed them up onto a power-point. The starter of the lesson would focus on reading the introductions and thinking about how the writing could be up-levelled. This starter would lend itself really well to questioning, modelling, and up-levelling, resulting in improving the overall writing.
Example of a pupil’s work:
One icy cold night, Mason’s mother was standing at the door she was shouting Mason ‘were are you’
‘Help has anyone seen Mason?’
But no one answered. Then I saw a little boy laying on the road so I went over there but it wasn’t Mason. So Mason’s mother went to go and get a torch.
‘Mason, Mason’ can you hear me.
The following types of questions were asked: Look at the first line. Is there any punctuation missing? Are there any misspellings? How can we describe the door? Look at the second part ‘went to go and get a torch’ – how can it be improved? Put your hand up if you think that is the best adjective, a verb to use. When pupils made suggestions, these were corrected on the smartboard.
This was the improved writing after questioning and modelling on the board:
One icy cold night, the worried mother was standing at the wooden door. She was shouting ‘Where are you? Has anyone seen Mason?’
But no one answered. Then I saw a little boy laying on the stone cold road so I ran over there but it wasn’t Mason. So the distraught mother fetched a much-needed torch.
Mason, Mason, can you hear me?’
After the starter activity, all pupils were given time to improve their writing. The teacher was pleased with the outcomes, and in future lessons has included modelling in his lesson e.g. writing down keywords on the board, explaining grammar in sentences. His questioning has also improved – further probing, hands up questioning. Pupils are given time to edit and improve writing.
I was asked to focus on improving the reading comprehension skills of a Year 6 class. During the meeting with the teacher, we talked about the importance of building reading stamina and teaching whole class guided reading. We decided to dedicate two discrete lessons a week to developing reading comprehension skills. The lessons were modelled. The first part of the lesson focussed on me reading the paragraph to the pupils. They then answered four questions together which included retrieval of information and inference and deduction.
Running is free, you can do it almost anywhere and it has many potential health benefits. Suitable for adults and children, it can improve your fitness, reduce your risk of illness and help to maintain a healthy active lifestyle. It’s no wonder an estimated six million people in the UK are now going jogging at least once a week.
1. What other word/words could have been used for free?
2. Name at least two places where running can be done.
3. What are the potential health benefits of running?
4. How does the author make you feel about running in the introduction?
Pupils were then given an extract to read and questions to answer in twenty minutes. Over the following weeks, this was then built up to reading three texts and answering the questions in one hour. Some lessons focussed on particular reading skills, for example, retrieval of information, inference and deduction, and point, evidence and explanation.
The teacher developed her teaching skills by watching me teach, team-teaching the following weeks, and using the same strategies. Evaluating the lessons and looking closely at pupil outcomes also enabled us to reflect and improve the following lessons and include other reading skills that needed to be developed. This year she has led the lessons and I have supported her through spot coaching with parts of the lesson, e.g. modelling on the board, explanation of key terms. The reading SATs result (expected) improved by 16% last year.
In my experience as a senior leader and education consultant, collaborative teaching is an important tool in developing a teacher’s skill set. I saw definite improvements in the teachers’ practice in future weeks and this was evident in the pupil outcomes whether it be book work or test results. Building a trusting relationship is important as well as giving the teacher and coach time to plan and evaluate the teaching and learning.
Maria Hutchinson @education_maria is an Education Consultant, working in Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire. She specialises in ITT, NQT support, primary English, and upper primary leadership.