Coteaching is still a relatively new concept for some schools and most parents. In fact, most parents never had coteachers themselves; it can be difficult for them to grasp when they haven’t seen it for themselves.
That’s why I send a letter home each year introducing myself and my coteacher to the parents and guardians. It decreases confusion later when parents are contacted by multiple teachers for the same class, or when Johnny is relaying something that happened in class and he isn’t able to fully explain why there are two teachers in the same class.
What to Include in the Letter Home
I start with a typical welcome paragraph that includes the name of the class, the teacher’s names, and some of the basics covered. For example, I always teach tenth grade so I include a little about the state testing in the spring.
We have the pleasure of having your child in our English 10 class this school year. This is an important year since all sophomores will be taking the Keystone Exams this spring. In order to prepare, we’re going to be focusing on reading comprehension with textual support, analysis of fiction and nonfiction texts, grammar, vocabulary, and academic writing.
What is Coteaching and Why We Use It
This transitions into the next paragraph of why it is a co-taught class. Part of my explanation talks about the extra help the students get with state testing prep. Another part of my explanation includes the variety of different learners in the class and how having an extra teacher helps reach each student.
To help our students master each of the areas listed above, this class will be co-taught. Coteaching is when two certified teachers are present in the classroom and they work together through the teaching process: planning, teaching, and assessing progress. Students frequently have different learning styles and preferences. Coteaching often allows those different needs to be more easily met.
What Co-teaching Looks Like
I know a lot of teachers who still struggle with this, so I make sure I include what parents and students can expect. After explaning why there’s a coteacher, transition right into specific examples of co-teaching in action. Explain the different co-teaching strategies and how they work.
Having two teachers in the same classroom looks different depending on the activity we’re doing in class and the needs of the students. Sometimes we like to split the class into two groups with each teacher teaching one of the groups; this allows for a smaller teacher-to-student ratio for more complex topics. Occasionally, one teacher will pull a small group aside for additional-support instruction while the other teacher assists students with an extension assignment. This way, students receive additional help when needed or they receive meaningful extension activities led by a teacher instead of busywork to complete independently at their desk. If you are interested in learning more about the different coteaching strategies available, this website offers quick summaries of each strategy: http://www.marilynfriend.com/approaches.htm.
Invite Future Communication or Questions
Most schools have a back-to-school night a few weeks into the school year, but I like to send my letter home the very first day of school. This way, parents can come in to back-to-school night already expecting both teachers and armed with any questions or concerns they may have.
If you have any questions or concerns, we are available via email: EMAIL ADDRESS for Mrs. Teacher A and EMAIL ADDRESS for Mr. Teacher B. We will also both be present for Back-to-School-Night on Wednesday, September 7th at 7pm. Please come see us coteach our presentation to see first-hand how our cotaught classroom works.
And of course I end with some sort of sign-off that includes my name and my coteacher’s name as well as both our signatures. We send it home via the mail to make sure parents actually get it.
I know, it’s only July. But it’s best to start working on this stuff now; it’s details like this that get overlooked in the craziness that is fall.