Co-Teaching in an Interdisciplinary Context

Co-teaching is an approach where two professionals deliver substantive instruction 
to a group of students within a single physical space (Cook & Friend, 1995).

Benefits for Learning

  • Students are exposed to different ways of thinking about a topic
  • Faculty are able to implement pedagogical approaches they may otherwise not have considered if teaching the course alone
  • Improved teacher-student relationships
  • Increased knowledge of subject matter from interdisciplinary perspective for both students and faculty members
  • Faculty may gain increased knowledge of instructional planning, delivery and evaluation from a new, shared perspective
  • Faculty increase their own knowledge of personal characteristics and teaching behaviors through communication, feedback and reflection with collaborator

Guiding Practices for Co-Teachers

  • Reserve time for communication and reflection upon the class’s events and planning for
the following session
  • Develop confidence in the safety of the co-teaching relationship through building trust
  • Foster an environment that promotes a spirit of parity where each faculty member’s contribution is equally valued, and each person has equal decision-making power
  • Get acquainted with your collaborator’s teaching style
  • Identify strategies to deal with power and potential conflict
  • Conduct careful and extensive reflection and course planning with your collaborator
  • Be present and engaged in all class sessions
  • Model modes of inquiry, methods of debate/dialogue with your collaborator
  • Plan and anticipate, but remain flexible to respond to evolving course needs and opportunities emerging from the co-teaching dynamic

Some references for further reading:

Cook, L., & Friend, M. (1995). Co-teaching: Guidelines for effective practices(link is external)Focus on Exceptional Children, 28(3), 1-16.

Conderman, G., & McCarty, B. (2003, Winter). Shared insights from university co-teaching(link is external)Academic Exchange Quarterly, 7(4) 1-7.

Cowan, M. A., Ewell, B. C., & McConnell, P. (1995). Creating conversations: An experiment in interdisciplinary team teaching(link is external)College Teaching, 43(4) 127-131.

Friend, M., & Cook, L. (2003). Interactions: Collaboration skills for school professionals. (4th editon). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

Leavitt, M. C. (2006, Fall). Team teaching: Benefits and challenges(link is external)Speaking of Teaching, 16(1) 1-4.

Letterman, M. R., & Dugan, K. B. (2004). Team teaching a cross-disciplinary honors course: Preparation and development(link is external)College Teaching, 52(2) 76-79.