A Treasure Trove of Co-Teaching Strategies
Reviewed by Laura Von Staden
In just over a 120 pages, Elizabeth Stein provides a treasure trove of strategies, tips and ideas not only for co-teaching but for creating a positive student-centered learning environment in every classroom.
Stein begins Two Teachers in the Room by discussing the co-teach models and how they can best be used to tap into the strengths of each of the teachers, emphasizing the importance of acceptance and communication between co-teaching partners.
She then quickly moves on to her ideas about going beyond the simple co-teaching relationship to build a highly successful classroom culture that helps all students and teachers to reach their potential.
The strategies, tips and steps outlined in this book are well referenced, but simple and easy to implement. The vast amount of information in each chapter is nicely chunked by topic headings, graphics, tables, rubrics and reflection opportunities.
Key resources for topics of frequent concern
Stein addresses the key topics that all teachers seem to be searching for information about or assistance with. Things such as differentiated instruction, individualized instruction, growth mindset, classroom management (even for the most difficult of behaviors), motivation and engagement, critical thinking skills and social emotional learning to mention a few – all in five succinct chapters.
Each chapter is filled with specific tips and activities to use in specific instances and provides many thought provoking guiding questions both for teacher-to-teacher discussions and for use with students. Each chapter also provides space for reflection and commitment to implementation and concludes with co-teaching connections, key ideas, and a reference list.
A closer look at classroom management
In the chapter on classroom management, for instance, Stein provides tips for helping co-teachers create a shared learning space in ways that honor both teachers’ philosophies and their strengths and weaknesses, avoiding the “mom vs. dad” situation often employed by students who believe they can play one teacher against the other.
She follows this by providing guiding questions and action steps that correlate with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (p. 45) and then offers a tuning protocol that can be used with students as they take ownership for the behavior in the classroom.
The chapter also contains tips for how to help students seek and receive positive attention and be mindful of their choices, to establish a moral identity and to help the class enforce a restorative justice model, and more. As you can see from this small sampling of just one chapter, the range and depth of immediately usable tips and strategies is enormous.
For co-teachers and their colleagues next door
The ultimate goal of using all these strategies is for students, even those who struggle the most academically or behaviorally, to take ownership of their learning and their future – all in a supportive classroom culture that meets their needs – while helping both teachers to teach to their strengths and teaching philosophies.
This is definitely a great read for all co-teachers, but I would also recommend it to every teacher, and especially beginning teachers. The resources, tips and strategies in this book are sure to fill any teacher toolbox.
Dr. Laura Von Staden is a Middle School Special Education Specialist in Tampa, Florida. She serves on numerous committees both at her school and within her district and works closely with the local university where she is a Professional Practice Partner and master mentor. Dr. Von Staden also facilitates both online and face-to-face Professional Development and writes curriculum for her school district. She is working toward her second doctorate, this one an EdD in Program Innovation and Development.