Gradual Induction

What is Gradual Induction?

Gradual Induction is the process of shifting the role of instructional leadership and classroom manager from the Mentor Teacher to the Teacher Candidate over the student teaching experience. We divide the process into four phases to clarify roles and responsibilities.  The Single Subject Credential Program at California State University Fullerton has always utilized a model of gradual induction for Teacher Candidate fieldwork. We have now added co-teaching activities as a way to shift roles of instructional leadership that occur throughout the 36-week placement for Mentor Teacher and Teacher Candidate.

Shifts in Instructional Leadership and Teacher Roles

  • The Mentor Teacher role shifts from sole instructional leader and sole teacher to primary instructional leader and co-teacher (during Phases 1 and 2); to secondary instructional leader, co-teacher, and support provider (during Phases 3 and 4).


What is Co-Planning/Co-Teaching?

The co-teaching model originated to facilitate collaborative teaching between general education and special education teachers. This model was adapted by St. Cloud University to support student learning in a general education classroom, when a veteran teacher is mentoring a student teacher. The Secondary Teacher Education Program (SECTEP) Council adopted the St. Cloud co-teaching model and many program faculty have been trained in its use. We have adjusted the model to fit the unique characteristics of our program (i.e., a full 36-week fieldwork model for secondary teachers).  In the CSUF Single Subject Credential Program, co-teaching is defined as two teachers (Teacher Candidate and Master Teacher) who share instructional leadership, classroom management, and teaching roles.     

Co-Planning/Co-Teaching is a natural part of the Master Teacher/Teacher Candidate dynamic.   

  • The goal of student teaching has always been for the Teacher Candidate to experience all aspects of teaching and to become an effective classroom practitioner. With an attitude of sharing the classroom and students by encouraging Co-Planning/Co-Teaching during student teaching, both adults and students benefit.
  • In co-teaching activities, the Teacher Candidate is able to develop skills in the classroom alongside a Master Teacher who remains actively engaged with the students. Co-Planning/Co-Teaching retains the expertise and added value of the Master Teacher as an active participant with students throughout the experience. 
How does Gradual Induction with Co-Teaching Work?

There are four phases in our Gradual Induction with Co-Teaching.  The responsiblities of the Master Teacher (MT) and Teacher Candidate (TC) during each of these phases are outlined in the table above.

Phase 1  occurs during the last eight weeks of First Semester fieldwork. 
  • The TC becomes "gradually inducted" into the role of the teacher in the classroom.  Little by little, the candidate takes on more responsibility by taking attendance, assessing student work, managing classroom routines, co-planning instruction, and working individually and with small groups of students.
  • Co-teaching strategies evolve as this phase continues. Initially, the MT and TC co-teach using One Teach, One Observe and One Teach, One Assist.  
Phase 2  occurs in the first six weeks of Second Semester fieldwork (Student Teaching).  
  • As the TC gains confidence and skill, she expands her role in instructional leadership by becoming more involved in co-planning. She takes on as much as the student assessment role as possible and co-teaches using additional strategies that allow for more independence.
  • In addition to Phase 1 strategies, the MT and TC will co-teach using Alternative, and Station Teaching. As co-teachers, the TC may teach second period with a slightly different activity, but designed to reach the same outcome (an example of Alternative Teaching).  Through these experiences the TC develops skills of an independent teacher.
Phase 3  occurs in the middle six weeks of the Second Semester fieldwork (Student Teaching). 
  • The TC assumes more of the instructional leadership and regularly teaches independently, but is able to rely on the MT to support instruction.  He also becomes more involved in classroom management and handles some student discipline problems.
  • The MT remains engaged and able to support student learning and continuing to co-plan/co-teach. In addition, the two continue to co-teach as instructional opportunities dictate. The most complex co-teaching strategies Parallel, and Team Teaching, should be utilized in this phase.
Phase 4  occurs during the final six weeks of Second Semester fieldwork (Student Teaching). 
  • The TC assumes the primary co-instructional leadership and classroom manager roles.  She plans lessons and submits them to the MT for review and co-planning.  She co-teaches with the MT and has multiple opportunities to teach independently.  All co-teaching strategies may be utilized in this phase.

Co-teaching is also a useful model to employ in advanced classes. Although it may not be appropriate for a TC to assume full control of advanced, honors, or AP classes, the Master Teacher, Teacher Candidate, and advanced students will all benefit from a second teacher in the classroom who is able to support student learning.  

Which Strategies Should Be Employed When?

CSUF teacher candidates are prepared to co-teach using several co-teaching strategies. Throughout fieldwork, the MT and the TC may decide which strategy best fits the curriculum, needs of students, and school schedule. Although these strategies are not hierarchical, some are more complex than others. Therefore, we offer the following recommendations:

Strategies appropriate in Phase 1:
  • One Teach, One Observe is recommended for the beginning of the first semester as the MT teaches all students and the Teacher Candidate observes instruction and behavior; roles reverse as the year progresses. The combination of Teacher Candidate teaching and Master Teacher observing may be an effective means to help the Teacher Candidate become aware of her teaching behaviors and student engagement patterns.
  • One Teach, One Assist is recommended for the beginning of the first semester as MT teaches and the TC assists by monitoring behavior, correcting assignments, or lending a voice to students or comments; roles reverse and/or alternate as the year progresses. 
Additional Strategies appropriate in Phase 2:
  • Station Teaching  is recommended once the Teacher Candidate has has gained experience as a co-teacher and independent teacher.
  • Alternative Teaching is recommended once the TC has begun independent teaching.
Additional Strategies appropriate in Phase 3:
  • Team Teaching  is recommended after the TC has gained experience as a co-teacher and independent teacher.
  • Parallel Teaching is recommended after the TC has gained experience as a co-teacher and independent teacher.
All strategies are appropriate during the second semester of fieldwork.

Additional Co-Teaching Resources
  • Teacher Actions During Co-Teaching  -  This resource offers suggestions for what one co-teacher might do while the other co-teacher is doing something else.
  • Why Co-Teach?  - This resource provides data-based evidence that co-teaching has the potential to improve student achievement as well as improve TC skill development .


Co-Teaching definitions and resources have been adapted from St. Cloud State University, Teacher Quality Enhancement Center, 2009: Research funded by a US Department of Education, Teacher Quality Enhancement Grant.