Co-teaching for K-12 English learners: origins, applications, and implications
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For the last 450 years, the United States of America has been a nation of immigrants. Throughout history, educating immigrant children in America has been approached with many different solutions, which have enjoyed varying degrees of success. Today, English Learners (ELs) in the K-12 public schools of America are typically served in immersion, English as a Second Language, bilingual, or dual language programs designed to teach content and English. Each of these programs has disadvantages which educators are trying to remedy in the face of an economic recession and high-stakes standardized tests mandated through No Child Left Behind. One solution that has been proposed is co-teaching: a content teacher and an EL teacher working together in the same classroom in order to meet the needs of ELs. Co-teaching ensures that ELs are not isolated from their native English speaking peers while receiving content instruction at the appropriate grade level and the necessary English instruction. While there are many advantages to co-teaching, there are also disadvantages and challenges to be considered before undertaking co-teaching as a way to educate ELs. Lack of mutual planning time, differing pedagogical philosophies, and perceptions of status are three problems that co-teachers face as they work together. In this essay, I address how the education of ELs has been shaped by various cultural, political, and social events, how co-teaching is a solution to the demands placed on K-12 schools, what issues need to be addressed by co-teachers before and during their co-teaching experience, and how different structures can be used in a co-taught classroom. I end this essay with a lesson plan illustrating how two teachers can work together to teach multicultural folktales in a fifth-grade Language Arts classroom.
English language--Study and teaching--History
English language--Study and teaching--Foreign speakers
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