Tips and strategies for a collaborative teaching approach

Phil Henken
Phil Henken
Updated April 27 2023
Collaborative Teaching
Phil Henken
Phil Henken
Updated April 27 2023

There’s no doubt about it, teaching any type of learner–from grade school-aged children to adult professionals–can be challenging, but a collaborative teaching approach is a way to lighten a single instructor’s load. Technology and online or hybrid learning options are also useful for bolstering collaborative teaching’s effectiveness. Want to find out more? Continue below.


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What is collaborative teaching?

Collaborative teaching is a technique or techniques by which two or more instructors can teach and mentor the same group of learners. It may also be referred to as “cooperative teaching” or “team teaching.” One of the hallmarks of a collaborative approach is taking on collective responsibility and “ownership” for the outcomes of the wider group of students. The learners’ success no longer rises and falls, on a single instructor or educator rather taking responsibility for success or failure becomes a team concern.


Key benefits of collaborative teaching

Why should you go to the lengths needed to change things up for a collaborative teaching approach if your current style of instruction seems to be working? While you should realistically apply the maxim “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” there are certainly beneficial aspects. It could be worth considering some incremental adjustments. And, of course, if your existing curriculum is not hitting the target as far as goals or testing outcomes, it’s time to change something up. Here are some of the comparative advantages of a collaborative approach:


  • Collective identity and the sense of all being “in it together.”
  • Added support for educators who can mutually support and give feedback to one another.
  • The ability to try new things and receive quick feedback from colleagues and learners to understand what is and is not working.
  • Your curriculum becomes an ongoing process and can significantly evolve and improve over time.


Particular benefits of active teacher collaboration can include:


  • When educators take responsibility for the progress of all learners, needless to say, all students stand to benefit.
  • Instructors can learn with and from each other on a continuing and ongoing basis.
  • Teaching teams can supplement each others’ strengths and weaknesses, problem-solve together, and support the curriculum and one another’s professional growth.
  • Students (particularly young students) can observe their instructors collaborating, allowing them to observe useful practical skills for working constructively and professionally that they’ll need in further education and the workplace.

Collaborative teaching


5 strategies of effective collaborative teaching

●     Simultaneous Teaching

This is highly similar to standard classroom learning, except that there are two (or possibly more) teachers, and the class is divided into groups. The instructors will be presenting the same material at the same time to the groups. Smaller group/class size is usually considered a benefit to educators as they’re able to teach more directly and have a less burdensome workload.


●     Teach and Reteach

This style of collaborative teaching might be familiar to those who had student teachers in primary school/high school, as well as those who’ve completed “tertiary education” (colleges, graduate schools) and had professors who worked with teaching assistants. One instructor functions as a “lead” and is actively teaching the students new material. The second plays more of a support role, observing and assisting students. The co-instructor comprehensively reviews lessons, identifies areas students may be behind and helps them improve, and conducts exams/tests/evaluations to evaluate overall learning.


●     Supplemental Teaching

This collaborative teaching technique is a variation of a simultaneous teaching style. In supplemental teaching, the class is divided into a larger and a smaller group. In the larger group, one teacher works with students at their expected grade or expertise level, and the co-teacher works with the smaller group using different instructional goals. Main course information can be extended or remediated depending on student needs.


●     Collaborative Learning, Planning, and Assessment

There are a couple of potential approaches to collaboration including both planning and assessment and student collaboration. Collaborative planning and assessment in terms of educators or instructors can involve a teacher/instructor team working together to plan curriculum, units, or lessons and classroom-based assessments. This provides instructors with opportunities to work together and examine their practice, consult with colleagues, and develop their skills.


A second facet is student collaboration–breaking students into small groups to answer questions, work on projects, and engage in peer learning. The collaborative teaching here might just be the students learning from one another–however, these types of breakout groups can be used in conjunction with other methods, like co-teachers. The instructor or instructors will also need to take an active hand in setting group sizes (optimally 4 or 5), setting rules for language and collaboration, and evaluating students to work together in groups based on strengths and weaknesses. School-aged students in particular will need more guidance to get them working in groups effectively.


●     Linked and Connective Courses

This collaborative teaching approach involves a cohort of learners that are taking multiple courses, which are linked by a theme. These might be “first-year” students in a school, program, or discipline, or more advanced students. An example might be a set of courses linked by a theme of “the environment” and the courses linked being political science, English, and biology. Weekly, the instructors of the linked courses would hold a one-hour seminar for the cohort of the linked courses. There, students and instructors would discuss the course content and point out connections, similarities, and differences as well as overarching themes that emerge in the topic that connects the classes.


Collaborative teaching


Challenges of collaborative teaching

In addition to the typical challenges of designing courses and developing educational content, there is the further issue that in collaborative teaching arrangements, the educators will have to decide how to share teaching responsibilities. It will be important for instructors to work carefully and mindfully with one another and avoid contradicting one another or getting caught in counterproductive debates over content and techniques.


Additionally, there should be clear plans and outlines for granting credit for instructors–for some teachers, it could be off-putting to receive less public credit than they would for leading a course solo.

Some other challenges to bear in mind are keeping students engaged and satisfied they are getting equal attention despite which teaching group they may be in. Also, if the collaborative teaching group is a cohort within a larger student body, they might exhibit some cliquish behavior other than identifying with the general population of students.

Finally, if your collaborative teaching group size is going to skew larger than a normal class, there could be concerns about finding adequate instructional space.




Tips and practices for building a collaborative teaching approach

Teams need to be well-organized and connected. Even if the aim is in-person learning, an online collaboration platform will be a helpful augment.

Remember that improved outcomes and efficiency are the goals, and to avoid some of the potential pitfalls as outlined above. Consider some of these questions while designing your course and content:


  • What responsibilities are shared by the instructors, and which will be divided and assigned?
  • How will instructors facilitate student learning by assisting a primary instructor or primary responsibility?
  • How will disagreements be handled?
  • On what schedule will co-instructors be meeting to discuss a course, linked course, and class content? How can changes be discussed and implemented?


As mentioned, a course using collaborative teaching methods might be larger than a normal class. In this case, incorporating remote or hybrid options for learning and collaborating will be an advantage. This is another area where great quality technological tools will shine.


Collaborative teaching


Examples of collaborative teaching methods

Some additional practical methods for collaborative teaching could include:

Station Teaching: Dividing a class into small learning groups that are provided instruction at separate stations. This reduces the student-teacher ratio and increases student participation.


Team Teaching: Co-instructors are at the front of the classroom, dividing the responsibilities of lead instruction with equally active but potentially different roles in the lesson.


Parallel Teaching: The class group is divided in half (or into more than 2 groups) and is taught the same material by co-instructors. Unlike the “Simultaneous Teaching” method described above, students and instructors never rotate to other groups. However, all groups will be covering the same material.


Some further strategies for encouraging collaboration among students can include:


Group Discussion: Discussions can shift some weight off instructors and onto peer learning–the students themselves can interact, listen, and teach. Effective use of group discussion will nonetheless require instructors to guide and moderate.


Team-Based Learning: This is another student-oriented method. It is a type of small-group learning that emphasizes student preparation outside class and applied knowledge in class. It can pair well with other techniques where co-instructors divide a class.


virtual classroom


Kaltura solutions for collaborative teaching

If you’re looking for an enterprise-level solution for collaborative teaching, we’d like to introduce our platform for education and training: Kaltura Virtual Classroom. Our Virtual Classroom is both a versatile best-in-class platform for schools and universities and a high-quality virtual training format for businesses and organizations. Collaboration options are built-in to assist and enable both instructors and learners to have a maximally collaborative space.


Kaltura Virtual Classroom is an easily-branded continuous learning space that’s simple for students to reach with just a click. Whatever your aims, it can offer you all the tools for effective learning in one place in a portable format, with no downloads or installations required.


Within the virtual space, we enable a digital whiteboard, breakout rooms, and moderated Q&A options to keep students focused and collaborating. A continuous classroom space means that you can set up branding, playlists, and collaborative teaching activities like quizzes, and whiteboard activities. Should you leave and come back, you’ll pick right up where things left off. Meanwhile, students have access to live-streamed instruction and “out-of-class” activities, such as peer collaboration and supplemental reviews with instructors. Live classes can also be recorded for everyone’s convenience, including automatic transcription features. Built-in pro editing tools also give you the option to reuse and repurpose content.


Additionally, moderation controls ensure multiple groups are eminently easy to manage. Finally, advanced analytics show how engaged students were and when and where in the session so that curriculum and lessons can be tweaked to be more effective going forward.


Best of all, it’s browser-based (including a dial-in option) so it requires no special gear, software, or technical skills to get up and running. If you’d like to judge for yourself, we also make it easy to take a free trial.




Final Thoughts

Collaborative teaching can yield many advantages. Students may be able to learn more and be exposed to a wider range of ideas. Instructors can share out a workload and run courses far more efficiently. We hope that this article can serve as a jumping-off point for you to embrace collaborative teaching in your training or educational strategies. We’re willing to bet that if you research further into collaborative teaching techniques, technologies, and platforms that facilitate and enable your educational collaboration, you’ll be glad you did!

virtual classroom

Collaborative teaching tip #1: try Kaltura Virtual Classroom for free, today!

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