Creating a safe space: Co-teaching as a method to encourage learning and development in the Higher Education classroom

Main Article Content

Kenneth Mark Sweeney

Abstract

The use of the classroom as a learning space is integral for the development of all participants. This article explores how co-teaching within a Higher Education classroom environment can be used as a safe space for students and tutors to develop their pedagogical skills through connections, conversation, peer learning and inclusivity. Offering the opportunity to provide a ‘safe space’ for students and academics can prove to be a crucial experience to promote expressiveness, creativity and hone various communication skills. It allows students engage with their thoughts without fear of derision discussing a topic that is new, or they are initially unsure of. This can evoke confidence to actively participate where in traditional circumstances they may abstain. Simultaneously, this method can be effectively used for academic tutors, particularly those new to the role, to practice new teaching techniques, activities or assessments with the full support of a secondary colleague to ensure that the required learning objectives are met. This reflective analysis addresses three essential aspects that enhance learning and make the co-teaching opportunity unique; how co-teaching offers support for additional non-specific learning objectives, the notion of the ‘safe space’; and building relationships. These factors work together to reassess a sense of power sharing, and develop a new culture. Whilst the notion of co-teaching may evoke different perspectives from varying standpoints, and also does have some potential drawbacks, by ultimately taking a fresh look at the method and taking advantage of the unique opportunities for learning it brings there lies a potential to reinvigorate the higher education classroom environment in the light of changing approaches to digital and non-classroom learning that are emerging.

Article Details

Section
Reflective Analysis Papers

References

Bacharach, N. and Heck, T.W. (2007) ‘Co-Teaching in Higher Education’. Journal of College Teaching and Learning, 4 (10), 19-26 https://doi.org/10.19030/tlc.v4i10.1532
Bouck, E.C. (2009) ‘Co-Teaching…Not Just A Textbook Term: Implications for Practice’. Preventing School Failure: Alternative Education for Children
& Youth, 51 (2), 46-51
Brookfield, S.D. (1995) Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher. Indianapolis: Jossey Bass
Cook, L. and Friend, M. (1995) ‘Co-Teaching: Guidelines for Creating Effective Practices’. Focus on Exceptional Children, 3 (28), 1-16 https://doi.org/10.17161/fec/v2813.6852
Egan, G. (2002) The Skilled Helper (7TH Ed). London: Brooks/Cole
Fleming, N. (2005) Teaching and Learning: VARK Strategies. Honolulu: Honolulu Community College
Goleman, D. (1996) Emotional Intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ. London: Bloomsbury
Gravells, A. (2011) Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector (2nd Edition). Exeter: Learning Matters
Harge, O., Saunders, C. and Dickson, D. (1994) Social Skills in Interpersonal Communication (3rd Ed). London: Routledge
Honey, P. and Mumford, A. (1982) Manual of Learning Styles. London: P Honey
Maslow, A.H. (1954) Motivation and Personality. New York: Harper
Murawski, W.W. and Swanson, H.L. (2001) ‘A Meta-Analysis of Co-Teaching Research’. Remedial and Special Education, 5 (22), 258-267 https://doi.org/10.1177/074193250102200501
Reece, I. and Walker, S. (2006) Teacher Training and Learning: A Practical Guide Incorporating the New Professional Standards (6th Ed). Sunderland:
Business Education Publishers
Rogers, C. (1951) Client-Centred Therapy: Its current practice, implications and theory. London: Constable
Schon, D. (1983) The Reflective Practitioner: How professionals think in action. London: Temple Smith
UCAS (2019) ‘First rise in university applicants for three years’ Retrieved 25 March2020 from
https://www.ucas.com/corporate/news-and-key-documents/news/first-rise-university-applications-three-years
Van Der Stuyf, R.R. (2002) Scaffolding As A Teaching Strategy Retrieved 17 March 2020 from
https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/4cca/0aa813c2b329e309721bffe4c30613416bb5.pdf?_ga=2.158242298.1510035714.1584444287-1784507501.1584444287