Every day, third and fourth period, Jon Senigaglia and Natalie Stuart teach Economics together. It’s a new style of teaching, known as co-teaching, that started at M-A and has spread throughout the district. Before I was in their class, I didn’t know that co-teaching even existed, so I took a closer look at the history of co-taught classes at M-A by interviewing the two teachers.
Stuart started co-teaching at the school eleven years ago with our current principal, Simone Kennel, who was also a teacher at the time. The co-taught classes were a huge success. At first, there were only a few classes, but now “more and more classes are becoming co-taught,” according to Stuart. There are now nine classes co-taught at M-A, such as Allison Tovar and Diane Martinelli’s Modern European History class.
Co-teaching allows teachers with different specialties to collaborate to make a better classroom. For example, Senigaglia is a content specialist. He has been teaching at M-A for six years. He makes the lectures, and takes a leading role during lecture days. Stuart is a learning specialist, who works for the Academic Resource Department . She has been teaching at M-A for fifteen years, and they’ve been collaborating since Senigaglia came to M-A. In the first year they worked together, they built up a strong set of curriculum, and they thought it would be a “shame to… not get to use it.” They brought the curriculum, which was designed to be used by two teachers, to their co-taught classes.
Stuart says that “sometimes we’ll break off, and Senigaglia will give a lecture while I check in with my students.” Senigaglia says “in [his] solo classes… [he] wishes [h]e had the time to do” all the things having a second teacher allows, like checking in with individual students while keeping the rest of the class engaged with a lecture or discussion.
When grading, Senigaglia and Stuart say that co-teaching makes their life a lot easier. Although they have to make sure that they are both grading to the same standard, they each only have to grade half the assignments of a solo teacher. They said that they used their newfound free time to study, claiming that teaching requires a lot of time to study.
Senigaglia believes that the “point of co-teaching really is to be able to include more special ed students.” Having a second teacher allows classes to have many more students from Individualized Educational Programs, a type of Special Education. Because there are two teachers, Senigaglia can lecture while Stuart helps people who are struggling with the content, and they can have much more integration with students from all places. Co-teaching “benefits those who would struggle in a mainstream class”, while also keeping things “challenging for students in AP classes.” The two Econ teachers hope to one day teach more co-taught classes, full of people with the “whole spectrum of learning abilities.”