Co-Teaching: Setting it up for Success

If you are coming to Asia to teach EFL, in many cases you’ll be coteaching. Also, if you are teaching ESL in North America, usually you are also doing some form of coteaching and supporting a regular class program. [read my General Guidelines/Overview document]

It is essential you do it right or your life can be hell. I was asked to give some advice recently and I’ve copied it below. You can find out lots more with my co-teaching manual and in this folder of articles. 

Advice? LOTS but I’ll try and be succinct. I’ve
said my piece a few times here on this subject but I understand the search function here is lousy as hell (why? think about it, there definitely is a manipulative reason and I find it particularly galling in this day and age of computer literacy and quick access to knowledge.).

1) human tape recorder

Number 1. Teachers can prepare by understanding what the relationship is about – helping students (not power). Be professional and understand what a coteaching relationship entails and is. Here’s a powerpoint outlining the types of coteaching options that are available depending on the time/planning/curriculum knowledge (fluency), philosophy, personality/trust.

Co-teaching PPT

I have lots of other reading in my prof. development and research folders. Tons of clear headed articles/presentations on the topic. Even just reflecting a bit before getting in the water will help. Nunan’s anthology on collaborative teaching is a good read. Also, The Collaborative Teacher. Gain some understanding of the others possible problems. Go into the relationship with empathy and understanding. This also goes with anyone venturing into a foreign culture.

Number 2. – Communication, ease in. This will make or break your life. Not something you want to get wrong. Don’t demand, be cooperative and ease in during the first number of weeks. Those most successful at coteaching are forthright but diplomatic. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Number 3. From day one. Make a time, atleast 1 hour / week to sit together and plan. If too many coteachers, have a group meeting. Meet EVERY week, regardless if you have stuff to talk over professionally. This time together is crucial. Most importantly, day 1, go through the questionnaire I’ve developed. Do it properly, by the instructions and talk about what roles you will have, who does what etc…..get on the same page. Coteaching Questionnaire

You each have strengths, use them to their fullest.

Number 4. Want to succeed.

You might take my survey, developed from another but which I’ve made so that you can score a coteaching relationship. Under 50 is very poor – 100 wonderful. Or take the quiz online at EFL Classroom 2.0

There are 3 “warning signs” that teachers should beware of when starting a coteaching relationship. Know them and try to diplomatically steer things into another direction.

2) token foreigner

3) korean teacher inadequacy/withdrawl

You can deal with these in several very effective ways in my opinion, but that’s another discussion/entry….
Hope this makes “some” sense. I’ll finish by offering this hilarious video – 50 Ways to love your Co-teacher. Rock on!

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Teacher trainer, technology specialist, educational thinker...creator of EFL Classroom 2.0, a social networking site for thousands of EFL / ESL teachers and students around the world.

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