ESL Co-Teaching Models

Instructor: Sarah Mills

Sarah is an educational freelance writer and has taught English and ESL in grades k-12 and college. She has a master's degree in both Literacy and TESOL.

Co-teaching has become a common method of instruction for schools with English as a second language (ESL) students. In this lesson, teachers of ESL students will learn about different models of co-teaching.

The Concept of Co-Teaching

School districts, principals, and teachers are often searching for the best way to service the ESL (English as a second language) students in their schools. The two most popular models for instructing ESL students are the pull-out and push-in methods. The push-in method, in which the ESL teacher works with his or her students inside the regular classroom, has been gaining popularity in recent years because of the social benefits of keeping students in the same learning environment as their peers.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to pushing in to a general education classroom. Let's discuss some of the most common styles of co-teaching.

Alternative Teaching

In alternative teaching, the classroom teacher assumes responsibility for the majority of the class, while the ESL teacher works with a smaller group of English learners. The content may or may not match the rest of the class. For example, while the classroom teacher is reading a story to the class, the ESL teacher may be working with a small group of English learners at a table in the back of the room. They could be reading the same story with added instructional support or they could be working on a vocabulary exercise.

Supportive Teaching

During supportive teaching, one teacher is considered the 'lead' teacher in charge of instructing the entire class. The other teacher acts as an assistant and circulates the room to offer support to students. In an ESL classroom, the teacher providing support may work primarily with ensuring ESL students understand all that is being taught. This approach ensures that all students are accessing the grade-level curriculum and have extra support when needed. Teachers may or may not switch back and forth between acting as the lead teacher and assistant.

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