Personalized Learning Through Co-Teaching, Team Teaching, and Collaboration

Writing for The 74, Thomas Arnett and Bryan Hassel summarize ways innovative schools are utilizing novel staffing structures to facilitate personalized learning. Excerpts from their piece appear below:

By adding personalized learning to teachers’ workloads without changing how schools are organized, schools face a great risk that their attempts to personalize learning will fall short of their promise.

Some pioneering schools with noteworthy student achievement results have begun to address this by personalizing their instruction through innovative staffing arrangements combined with blended learning. These approaches often provide teachers with team-based support and career paths, and give students more opportunities for small-group instruction, connections to adults, and instruction personalized to their needs.

Over the past year, Public Impact and the Clayton Christensen Institute have partnered to study some of these schools, using site visits and interviews to investigate eight such district, charter, and private schools or school networks in New York, Nevada, North Carolina, Illinois, and California. A new report, released last week, documents the findings from this research, accompanied by school profiles and videos.

Key elements of these schools’ innovative staffing models included:

New roles

These roles included teacher-leaders, collaborating teachers, support staff, and teachers-in-training. Teacher-leaders led small instructional teams. They often planned and directed instruction for other team teachers, coached teachers, and analyzed data. Collaborating teachers had roles similar to those of typical classroom teachers, but they worked in teams and supported one another more than usually happens in traditional settings. Support staff were noncredentialed educators who tutored or mentored students and led one-on-one or small-group instruction. Teachers-in-training supported teacher-leaders or collaborating teachers and taught while learning on the job. All these roles helped the schools personalize learning by providing more students with great teaching.


What made the staffing arrangements at these schools unique was how they organized their various educator roles into small teams for co-teaching, team teaching, and intensive collaboration. In multiple interviews, teachers stressed that “these are our kids,” and most of the schools rejected the notion of every teacher owning his or her own classroom.


The roles and teams at these schools not only allowed educators to better support their students but also provided increased opportunities for support, development, and career advancement. School teams had cultures of intensive coaching, with weekly or even daily observations and feedback.


Many schools also created paid fellowships and residencies that enabled them to train their own teachers, thereby building their flow of future educators.


For more commentary, see:

For the report, see

For school profiles and videos, see