Team teaching can be described as the division of labour, usually between but never to the exclusion of other teachers, who work with a range of students at once, with the aim of learning as much as possible from each other. This is a common practice in education, from primary school up to tertiary level. In some cases (but by no means always) group work is seen to have more benefits than individual study, as it fosters group interaction and brings people into close contact.
The first group to benefit from co-teaching arrangements are those in the special education teaching profession; by engaging with others who previously did not have a teaching career, they gain knowledge, experience and skills that they can then share with others in their field. The benefits for these professionals are not only that they find work by being a member of a co-teacher team but also that they develop a deep understanding of what it takes to really make a difference to a child and, by extension, their family. They gain confidence through working with others in a structured environment, developing both leadership and problem-solving skills. They may also find themselves with more job-related tasks to complete than they were previously able to handle, enabling them to rise to the challenge of new challenges.
Co-teachers can benefit too by the professional development they receive from their special education teachers. Many special education teachers take time off from their teaching role to go out into the community and get more involved, putting themselves in position to network with other teachers in their field, and perhaps even other specialists such as psychologists, teachers and counsellors. Having access to these resources can help co-teachers and special education teachers develop even further their own teaching skills, by honing their communication and problem-solving skills and developing further expertise in their chosen area.
Of course, there are a number of different ways that a co-teacher and their students can benefit from this practice. One of the main benefits is that it creates an environment where everyone is encouraged to learn and grow and can help those students who may struggle in a traditional classroom environment. It is also a great opportunity for teachers who are just starting out to get some experience in working with co-teachers and children, which can help them build up further confidence as they progress through their career.
The most exciting opportunity that a student, parent or guardian can have, though, is learning from the best. Strong co-teachers are able to encourage students to learn in a way that traditional teachers and educational experts may not be able to. This is because they are able to draw from their past experiences and successes as well as their natural gifts as people and educators, and draw upon their understanding of teaching and the way in which children learn to make the most of all available opportunities. In many ways, a teacher like this is more 'grown up' than any other teacher in the room, as they can draw from their own experiences and wisdom to create a course that will work for all students, rather than just some. They also have far more credibility and respect, as they have been doing this for years.
Of course, there are many aspects of team teaching that a student or family must consider before committing themselves to a co-teacher or course. . . . . . . Naturally, there is the money factor. If the student cannot afford to pay for this type of education, they may be better off finding another option. However, there are some great schools out there that allow students to pursue co-teaching as part of their course, and for which they do not need financial support. In short, if the family feels that this type of learning is right for their child, then they should definitely consider it.