Why we use a co-teaching approach for our bilingual classes at SISD

Co-teaching is the practice of pairing teachers together in a classroom to share the responsibilities of planning, instructing, and assessing students. In a co-teaching setting, teachers are equally responsible and accountable for the classroom.

Co-teaching is a powerful model for bilingual instruction. SISD recognised the growing demand from Arab and non-Arab speaking parents for their children to be immersed in the Classic Arabic language and culture from an early age, not just learning it as an “add-on” language. We recently extended our existing English/French and English/German programmes to also include English/Arabic for Pre-KG to KG2 students.

SISD co-teaching programs are available for children from KG1 to Grade 4 (ages 4 to 9), with two teachers speaking English and another language in the same class every day.

Support for teachers and children alike

At SISD, Language Arts classes are taught using the co-teaching method until Grade 4, and then a Week A/B rotation approach from Grade 4 onwards. The co-teaching model is delivered in a  variety of ways including:

Station teaching: Teachers break the classroom into small groups, each identified by the language skills they’re targeting. Students are grouped by next steps and given different content accordingly.

Circuit teaching: More of a student-led approach, children have more agency and direction over their learning. They are grouped by next steps, and work collaboratively to achieve learning goals. Teachers rotate around the groups to monitor understanding, engagement, and task completion.

Parallel teaching: This method uses small groups based on language level. Here, both teachers provide the same content, targeted toward their students’ needs.

SISD’s dedicated language team supports teachers and provides them with the guidance and reading material they need to succeed.

Co-teachers are able to work together in a very collaborative way to ensure the best language acquisition and learning for the students. Every teacher has their own strengths, language proficiencies, and preferences, and they may use a number of different co-teaching models to respond to the diverse range of needs of their students, and maximise each teacher’s professional expertise.

SISD has additionally implemented “lab” classrooms where teachers can learn from more experienced staff through peer observation. The leadership team works closely with teachers, parents, and students, to ensure teachers and the community are equipped with knowledge and experience to implement this model effectively.

Improved social and learning environment

With co-teaching, the focus is not solely on the language students develop, but rather on the academic content. Co-teachers ensure the content is relevant and responsive to all children, resulting in a fluid classroom based on the needs of each learner.

SISD provides Language Support for students who require a personalised approach within the classroom. This has been proven to be more effective than ‘’pulling out’’ students who need additional support. Students are not stigmatised, and it levels the playing field for each child.

Bilingual learners need to feel a deep sense of belonging to take risks and make mistakes. Co-teaching provides a more diverse learning environment and builds trusting relationships among students, fostering a greater sense of community within the classroom. With additional adult support, children better cultivate soft skills such as participating in group work, taking turns in class discussion, and expressing their opinions.

Better understanding of multiple languages

Leveraging the home languages of children improves their academic success and helps them build an understanding of English by making connections with their prior knowledge. Co-teaching has shown that students create meaning out of the content they learn, while utilising their home language. The co-teaching model enhances the experiences of children, helps children to improve their mastery of academic language, and encourages them to use their language skills.

The collaboration and harmonisation required in co-teaching helps teachers to deliver a bilingual curriculum that capitalises on the connections created between languages. Because co-teaching employs two languages in one classroom, students have a better understanding of meaning and content in both languages learned.

Through translanguaging, multilingual students use their learned languages whenever they need to, smoothly flowing between two or more languages and in social settings. Students use skills in one language to support another language seamlessly.

For more information about our bilingual programmes, contact our Admissions team at admissions@sisd.ae.

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