Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Educators Hoping To Improve Co-Teaching Begin Year Of Training

Lee Hale
Teachers Cindy Schow (right) and Melissa Rigby (left) of American Fork Junior High are taking part in a year long cohort aimed to improve their instruction as co-teachers.

A handful of middle school teachers began training this week meant to improve co-teaching. A practice used by many schools in Utah with varying results.

The group gathered in a classroom at the Utah State Board of Education offices in downtown Salt Lake City.


Most of the teachers have come in pairs, special ed and general ed, who teach at least one class period together. Like Cindy Schow and Melissa Rigby from American Fork Junior High.


Schow teaches special ed and has taught with general ed teachers for years. The hope is that exposing her students to a general ed classroom and curriculum fosters a better setting for growth.


But it can be tricky. Schow says it’s kind of like a marriage.


"You learn the strengths of each other and the weaknesses for that matter and you work through that," Schow says.


Becky Unker, one of the instructors, says the goal of this yearlong training is to help these teachers work through some of that awkwardness and become an effective team.


“We really get to see them develop that relationship and they bond with us we bond with them," says Unker.


Along with two full days this week, this group will meet together 8 other times throughout the year.


What makes this training unique is that it’s content specific. These are all math teachers and so all of the trainings are math-related.


“It gives it a context, it gives it purpose," says Unker. "Not just co-teaching for co-teaching.”


The state board is currently working on a study to show the effectiveness of these trainings and a plan to expand it to language arts in order to reach more teachers statewide.


Lee Hale began listening to KUER while he was teaching English at a Middle School in West Jordan (his one hour commute made for plenty of listening time). Inspired by what he heard he applied for the Kroc Fellowship at NPR headquarters in DC and to his surprise, he got it. Since then he has reported on topics ranging from TSA PreCheck to micro apartments in overcrowded cities to the various ways zoo animals stay cool in the summer heat. But, his primary focus has always been education and he returns to Utah to cover the same schools he was teaching in not long ago. Lee is a graduate of Brigham Young University and is also fascinated with the way religion intersects with the culture and communities of the Beehive State. He hopes to tell stories that accurately reflect the beliefs that Utahns hold dear.
KUER is listener-supported public radio. Support this work by making a donation today.