Creating a safe space: Co-teaching as a method to encourage learning and development in the Higher Education classroom
Keywords:Co-teaching pedagogy, Safe Space, Inclusive Learning, Diversity, Learning Tool
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.
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