At BASIS International & Bilingual Schools China, our early childhood and primary school classrooms benefit from two teachers—a Subject Expert Teacher (SET) with deep knowledge of the content and a Learning Enhancement Teacher (LET) well-versed in pedagogical approaches. Generally, the SET takes the lead in delivering engaging, subject-specific learning experiences, while the LET ensures individual student engagement and comprehension. Together, they collaborate to plan lessons and effectively deliver learning experiences that enhance student engagement and opportunities in the classroom.  

In their shared math classroom at BASIS Bilingual School Shenzhen, Zach King (SET) and Kory Wu (LET) skillfully navigate the dynamic co-teaching model. Their varying perspectives and experiences provide valuable insights into the nuances of the co-teaching approach in action at BASIS. 

The Subject Expert Teacher (SET) Perspective
Zach King, G4 Subject Expert Teacher (SET) 

… And leading our TIGER values here at BASIS, we have Teamwork!  

As a co-teaching partnership, unlocking the magic of teamwork is key to achieving educational success and creating an engaging classroom experience for our students.  

At the beginning of the 2023–24 academic year, I teamed up with Kory Wu, a Learning Enhancement Teacher (LET), to teach grade 4 math. As the year unfolds, our collaboration continues to grow and enhance the learning experiences for our students.  

Our individual teaching styles and approaches complement each other, and it is always rewarding to see students light up when they understand math from different angles. Using a multiplicity of viewpoints enriches the learning experience, so trusting each other’s methods and ideas is extremely important, not only for our students’ understanding but also for our own professional growth. If we are to teach well, we must remain open to learning ourselves. 

Like all relationships, understanding each other’s comfort zones and smoothly coordinating dual roles has taken time. Our co-teaching venture revolves around clear communication and fostering a synergy that creates a warm and enjoyable classroom environment—one where we spontaneously bounce ideas off of each other, engage the entire class in idea-sharing, and value each other’s opinions as we explore mathematics. 

In our co-teaching model, responsibilities are thoughtfully divided, with a balance between introducing new content and working through practice problems. However, what makes our approach unique is our mutual encouragement and trust in stepping in and blending our shared voices in the classroom when necessary.  

A simple nod here or a raised hand there demonstrates this flexibility, ensuring both educators actively promote student understanding and engagement while providing alternative perspectives. Having an extra set of eyes on the class also helps identify subtle cues and tailor teaching strategies to ensure every student comprehends the material.  

What’s more, the collaborative nature of co-teaching allows us to use each other as dynamic resources, making the material more engaging through real-world examples or interactive activities. Our partnership provides more opportunities to make the subject matter relatable.  

The most enjoyable parts of our co-teaching manifest during large group discussions where teachers and students actively explore materials and ideas flow from everyone. This collaboration generates an inclusive environment and enhances the learning experience. 

Our co-teaching experience has been a journey of shared growth, understanding, and flexibility. As we continue, I look forward to further developing our synergy in creating a stimulating environment for our learners. 

The Learning Enhancement Teacher (LET) Perspective
Kory Wu, G4 Learning Enhancement Teacher (LET) 

Embarking on a co-teaching adventure as the Learning Enhancement Teacher (LET) felt like delving into uncharted music territory. Initially, it was a theoretical melody. However, after several months of collaboration and constant communication with my co-teacher, Zach King, we discovered the most suitable and effective co-teaching methods for our shared classroom. By identifying challenges and leveraging our distinct personalities, we seamlessly integrated different co-teaching models to maximize academic progress for our students. As we fine-tuned our teaching instruments to strike the perfect chord, our collaboration transformed into a dynamic and harmonious symphony. 

Team Teaching in Action 

Our current co-teaching arrangement feels incredibly natural. We effortlessly complement each other’s contributions, collectively posing questions and encouraging student participation. Regardless of who leads a specific portion of the class, we seamlessly supplement each other’s content, fostering an environment where students actively engage, such as by collaboratively solving a challenging math problem. 

Diverse Teaching Styles for Varied Perspectives 

One unique aspect of our co-teaching journey is the fusion of Eastern and Western perspectives. Incorporating Chinese and Western mathematical thinking gives students a broader understanding of concepts. The merging of these perspectives sparks engaging discussions, encouraging students to approach problem-solving from multiple angles. 

Typically, Zach presents the concepts and basic examples, while I demonstrate more challenging and commonly misconstrued examples. These examples resonate with diverse students and deepen their understanding of the concept. We sometimes revisit previously covered material to help students review vocabulary. This approach diversifies our teaching methods and nurtures a holistic understanding of mathematical concepts. 

One Teach, One Support: Tailored Support 

During “One Teach, One Support,” Zach or I individually support students who are falling behind. This focused attention ensures a clear explanation of mathematical concepts, especially for students who find it challenging to keep pace with the class. Since some students hesitate to ask questions, this one-on-one approach helps us promptly identify and address student concerns. 

Before class, Zach and I discuss which students might need additional attention in specific areas. During this time, one of us takes a whiteboard and assesses their understanding of the content while providing guidance on targeted exercises. For example, when working on decimal addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division, during my support session, I present a few problems to the student, carefully observing the student’s step-by-step solution and emphasizing specific points on the whiteboard if they make mistakes. We continue this process until the student fully comprehends the concept and can complete the exercises independently. 

One Teach, One Observe: Personalized Instruction 

In the “One Teach, One Observe” method, we focus on the subject matter while carefully monitoring students’ overall engagement and attentiveness. This approach allows us to provide timely feedback to parents, fostering a collaborative duet between educators and families. 

For example, during our observation sessions, we identify students who may struggle to maintain focus. Acting as attentive conductors, we intervene promptly, providing additional support and creating an inclusive learning environment attuned to the individual needs of each student. 

Learning and Growth as a Co-Teacher 

As a homeroom teacher, co-teaching has enriched my professional growth. Collaborating with my co-teacher, Zach, has given me valuable insights into maintaining student focus and fostering a love of learning. Moreover, through continuous communication, I’ve gained a deeper understanding of each student’s strengths and weaknesses. This knowledge aids in tailoring instruction to meet individual needs through differentiated or group instruction. 

Co-teaching has transformed our classroom into a dynamic space where diverse teaching styles harmonize to create an optimal learning environment. This journey has improved student engagement and enhanced our abilities as educators. As we continue refining our co-teaching approach, we look forward to unlocking even more potential in our students and ourselves. 

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