New teaching style gets education majors up close and personal with Waco classrooms

The School of Education has been implementing a new system that changes the way education majors work with children in the classroom.

The co-teach method allows education interns to work more closely in the classroom in order to teach students in a more efficient way.

Dr. Krystal Goree, director of the Office of Professional Practice and clinical faculty in the School of Education, said the co-teach model comes from the special education field.

“Two professors took the co-teach model that was developed by special education and received a huge grant from the United States Department of Education to study using it with pre-service teachers,” Goree said. “They developed it to include seven strategies and there’s no hierarchy in those strategies, but what they recommend is looking at your class through pre-assessment and knowing your students.”

The co-teaching method includes seven strategies, such as supplemental, alternative and team teaching.

Goree said the School of Education decided to start using the co-teaching method after Baylor faculty and Waco-area school district personnel, who work closely with the education department, attended a National Association for Professional Development Schools conference.

“At that conference there were several presentations from university partnerships from local districts who had implemented the co-teach model,” Goree said. “Some of us heard those presentations and thought it would be a great fit for Baylor University in our professional development school program.”

Partner districts include Midway ISD, Waco ISD, Connally ISD, Robinson ISD and La Vega ISD. Each was receptive to incorporating the co-teach method.

“We were hoping for earlier and more intense collaboration between our mentor teachers and our students,” Goree said. “That is exactly what we’ve seen happen. It’s been very exciting to see the model implemented and the effects for the children in the classroom, for our candidates and for the mentor teachers.”

Goree said she hopes the future of the co-teach model will engage the future educators more quickly when they enter new classroom environments.

Bay City senior Rachel Webbon, a first-grade intern at Hillcrest PDS Elementary Magnet School, said adding the co-teaching method into the classroom has allowed for a better flow and partnership between her and her mentor teacher, Tamara Holey.

“One way that I know that it’s helpful for me is I feel like I have ownership of the classroom now,” Webbon said. “Knowing that I’m a co-teacher in this room, and I have authority in this room, and this just makes my internship that much more meaningful.”

Holey said having the co-teach model in the classroom is a powerful teaching tool for all involved.

“I have found that it’s just beneficial to [Webbon], myself and my kids,” Holey said. “It just makes such a stronger partnership within the whole classroom.”

Holey said having the co-teach model has allowed more time for her to focus on the needs of each student. She added that it really helps target those kids that need extra time with the teacher.

“I get to spend more time with my tier 2 and tier 3 students working on those skills that they need,” Holey said. “I can sometimes spend 30 minutes to even 35 sometimes if I catch them at a station. If we’re co-teaching I can pull them aside and we can do a book study, a vocabulary web, book reports, things like that with them.”

Having the co-teach model also allows Holey and Webbon to demonstrate teamwork in the classroom for students to see. She and Webbon support and cheer each other on all the time in the classroom, Holey said.

“We work as a team,” she said. “We may view things a little different but we’re going to work together.”