Not everyone can teach a class size of 50+ students and this doesn’t make them less of a teacher. Reasons being that:
You can’t split yourself into many halves to meet the needs of all the students.
You may not also have the voice capacity to grab the attention of all your students.
Therefore, working with an assistant teacher(s) would be an ideal solution to this problem.
So how do you cooperate with an assistant teacher(s) to deliver an outstanding lesson?
What is Co-teaching?
Co-teaching is a model in which two or more teachers collaborate to deliver the same lesson to a diverse group of students in the same classroom.
It involves sharing the planning, organization, delivery, and assessment of instruction, and the physical space.
Although in secular teaching the term co-teacher has to do with meeting the needs of Special Educational Needs Students (SEN), a co-teacher in a Sunday school setting works with another teacher to meet the needs of all the students in a large class setting.
Now, this doesn’t mean the lead teacher will talk simultaneously with the co-teacher. This is obviously impossible. Rather, they’d be teaching simultaneously: one person instructs while the other person monitors and implements.
For this to happen, both teachers must be skilled at working together as a team.
So as a lead teacher, how do you work with your co-teacher to deliver an effective lesson?
- You need to prepare your lesson upfront, and with your assistant teacher(s) in mind.
- Lead instructions for your co-teachers to implement.
- Specify in your lesson plan how you’d want them to intervene in the lesson.
- Prepare structured questions and activities and share with your assistant teachers say 2-3 days before the actual delivery day.
- If you want them to share a background story, or to lead a small group discussion, specify how you’d want them to do it.
- Share your lesson plan with your assistant and the answers to the questions you’d ask in the course of the lesson. For example, you could share with them the main characters and their role in a scriptural passage and tell them the application lessons you’d want students to grab from it.
- Provide hints on how you’d want them to coordinate activities or group discussions.
- Break the class into small groups based on the number of co-teachers you will be working with.
- Turn your lesson into a mini-workshop session and lead the entire class through the co-instructors to facilitate the lesson. Obviously, a teacher-centred lesson will not work with this model. So if you didn’t prepare activities for the students, do not use this approach else you will waste precious learning time.
- Move around and monitor the activities of each group and set the pace of the lesson by sticking to the time allocated for each activity.
Take note that for this method to be effective, the lead teacher must have prepared his co-teacher(s).
Now, as an assistant teacher, how do you work with the lead teacher to ensure learning has taken place?
Here are some guidelines for the assistant teacher:
- Have a good understanding of the lesson so you can explain it to students who find it difficult to understand it or can’t hear the lead teacher from their seating position.
- Encourage learners to provide answers to questions asked by the lead teacher.
- Monitor the students to ensure that they are engaged and disciplined. Check for distracted students and politely bring them to order. Make sure you do not push uncommitted students too much else it might lead to a boomerang effect. You are not the police. You are a teacher. Let students feel comfortable in your presence.
- Offer spare bibles to students who do not have one and make sure they are using it.
- Politely discourage the use of phones in the class, except you’re sure they are using it for the right purpose.
- Ensure that learners sit to help them hear and see the teacher.
- Assist students who look confused during the lesson by offering them with some clarifications. Do this using an inner voice so do not become a distraction to nearby students.
To conclude, a teaching assistant makes a real difference in a bible lesson, especially if you have 50+ students in your class.
Both the lead teacher and the assistant teacher must strive to develop their collaborative and communication skills for co-teaching to be effective.
Above all, ensure you execute your role effectively either as a lead teacher or a support teacher.
As Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.Prov 27:17
Do you have other challenges not mentioned in this article?
Please share with us in the comment section below. I’ll be glad to help.
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Until then, Go Teach Like a Pro!
1 thought on “Do teaching assistants make a real difference? How to implement co-teaching in an adult Sunday school lesson.”
Very impressive, uncle. This shows there has to be much collaboration between yhe lead and co-teacher. By the grace of God, we’ll carry it through.