An innovative teaching method at Southside Elementary is helping students learn to love reading in a whole new way. First Grade Teacher Shelby Langrehr and English Language (ELL) Teacher Arlene Quinones Ferrer teamed up at the beginning of this school year to begin co-teaching reading in Langrehr’s classroom. Co-teaching is a method in which two teachers are together in one classroom, equally sharing the responsibilities of instructing students. In standard practice, ELL students are taken out of the classroom to work separately with their ELL teacher. Co-teaching allows these students to remain in the classroom with their peers instead, as both classroom teacher and ELL teacher work in unison to address student needs.
At Southside, Langrehr and Quinones Ferrer take turns teaching reading lessons or teach them together, then break into small groups to give students more one-on-one help. Although Quinones Ferrer focuses on the ELL group, she teaches all of the students. “They’re not my kids or your kids,” she said to Langrehr. “They’re our kids”.
The results, Langrehr and Quinones Ferrer share, have been astounding. “I’ve noticed so much growth in the students this year”, Langrehr said. “I’ve seen a huge increase in their motivation to read”. Research suggests that co-teaching creates many benefits for students, especially by creating an inclusive environment where diversity is welcome. ELL students are at greater advantage when they are able to remain in the classroom with their peers while still receiving the specialized instruction they need. Langrehr has seen her English speaking first graders develop curiosity and respect for the language and culture of their Spanish speaking classmates. All of the students have more opportunities for one-on-one interaction with a teacher, and benefit from the different strategies and perspectives that each teacher offers.
While the co-teaching method is new at Southside and unique to Langrehr’s classroom, she and Quinones Ferrer are passionate about the teaching style and hope to expand it to other classrooms in future years.