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Co-teaching Model Provides Effective Blend of Theory and Experience for Students

For professors who have spent much of their careers in academia, it can be hard bringing a real-world perspective into their classrooms. The McKay School Department of Educational Leadership and Foundations is piloting a new model that could help them in providing a reality experience for their students.

This semester David Boren, chair of the School Leadership Program, and Suzanne Kimball, coordinator of educator support for the Nebo School District, are co-teaching EDLF 601, Leadership for Learning Communities. Co-teaching the course has allowed Boren and Kimball to integrate academic theory and practical learning to teach students more completely. While co-teaching has been done before, this is the first time a course has been fully co-taught by a current district administrator and an EDLF professor.

“Not being in the field at the moment, sometimes we [professors] lose touch, and we want to make sure the theory works well in the field,” Boren said. “Having someone who is strong in the theory and someone who is strong in the practice teach together can really benefit the students because they get both perspectives.”

David Boren

The co-teaching model allows Boren and Kimball to work together to build a strong learning environment for students.

“David and I decide on the learning targets for the week's lesson,” Kimball said. “Before starting the course, we worked together to establish a standards-based grading system that supports best practices of self-reflection, and we established proficiency-level goals, allowing for growth throughout the semester.”

Boren feels that the new model enables better answers to questions and better class discussions.

“I can turn to Suzanne and ask what she has to add and she’ll bring up an experience I never would have thought about,” Boren said. “Or if a student has a question and I’m not quite sure how to answer, she usually has something to offer.”

Kimball has seen how the co-teaching model can help both professors and curriculum to develop and grow.

“It seems natural to work with another teacher in this course to collaborate on learning targets and assessments on the principles and practice of professional learning communities,” Kimball said. “I have thoroughly enjoyed stretching myself to teach the concepts that I have just put into action without having to guide someone else through it in an unknown setting. The [various] challenges and [problem-solving strategies] have been exciting to watch.”

This course has been the co-teaching pilot, and it is hoped that more professors will explore the possibilities of this teaching style. “It could range from full co-teaching to occasional consulting,” Boren said. “Many professors already bring in teachers from the districts to present, but we want to expand that. We want the districts to feel ownership for the program.”

Writer: Kirsten Clancy

Contact: Cynthia Glad (801) 422-1922