Exploring Co-Teaching Among Music Education Faculty and Graduate Students: Report from an Instrumental Rehearsal Techniques Course
D. Gregory Springer, University of South Carolina
Alec D. Scherer, Boise State University
Currently, there is a growing need for greater collaboration within and among music teacher educators, state agencies, accrediting bodies, and P-12 educators to support successful learning in public schools (Thompson, 2009). Although there is often an implicit awareness of the need for collaboration within university teacher education programs, many do not explicitly teach the skills needed for successful collaboration (Bacharach & Heck, 2007). Co-teaching, which consists of “two or more professionals delivering substantive instruction to a diverse, or blended, group of students in a single physical space” (Cook & Friend, 1995, p. 2), is one method for modeling collaboration for preservice teachers. Co-teaching allows instructors to think about their teaching in broader ways (Zhou, Kim, & Kerekes, 2011), and some authors (Brody, 1994; Crow & Smith, 2005) have described how co-teaching influences reflective practice. Although there are a variety of co-teaching models (Bacharach & Heck, 2007), prior research has demonstrated that co-teaching dyads are perceived as the most effective type of team-teaching approach by preservice teachers (Dugan & Letterman, 2008).
The present “best practice” investigation is focused on the implementation of a co- teaching dyad in which a music education faculty member and his graduate assistant engaged in a collaborative teaching scenario for an instrumental rehearsal techniques course during the Spring 2015 semester. This co-teaching arrangement placed 50% of the responsibility for course preparation, instructional delivery, grading, and out-of-class availability on each instructor. Student perceptions and instructor reflections were examined to identify outcomes for both students and instructors.
The co-teaching experience was believed to be largely beneficial for instructor and student alike. The collaborative nature of the planning process yielded a more well- developed course. For the instructors, a shared workload created weeks with reduced grading responsibilities. In addition, it promoted a reflective and productive dialogue between instructors throughout the course. Potential considerations for instructors include reduced autonomy in decision making, the potential for a lack of consistency between instructors, and the need for each teacher to take a lead role at times while the other accepts a more supportive role.
Like the instructors, students reported benefits from the co-teaching arrangement. Having two instructors increased the amount of help available both during and outside of class. The co-teaching experience also provided students with varied instruction due to two unique perspectives drawn from a wealth of knowledge and diverse personal experiences. Finally, a professional collaborative model was demonstrated by the instructors, a template that students can use for their own future collaborations (either in a similar co-teaching scenario or simply working with fellow colleagues). A challenge that arose from the co-teaching context was the necessity of communication between instructors, which resulted in a delayed email response time to student inquiries. Students may also find the potential for multiple expectations to be a concern, but with careful consideration and attention to detail in the construction of the course, many of these concerns can be anticipated.
Implications for music teacher educators who may consider similar co-teaching partnerships will be discussed.
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Dugan, K., & Letterman, M. (2008). Student appraisals of collaborative teaching. College Teaching, 56(1), 11-15.
Thompson, L. (2009). A call for collaboration. Journal of Music Teacher Education, 18(2), 1-3.
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