BASIS Curriculum Schools utilize an innovative co-teaching model, known as the LET/SET model, which places two teachers in each classroom throughout the entire school day.
The LET/SET model improves on the typical co-teaching model by using learning experts and subject experts, instead of simply using a lead teacher and assistant teacher, like many other schools do. Both the Learning Expert Teacher and the Subject Expert Teacher in a BASIS Curriculum classroom are experts in their respective fields.
Learning Expert Teachers are experienced in pedagogy, or the methods and best practices of teaching, especially in regards to early-childhood education. LETs are responsible for two crucial elements of the BASIS Curriculum, performing interventions and providing differentiation. Interventions cover more than just behavioral issues; LETs actually track and provide necessary interventions for students who have been identified as below grade level in an area. They also provide differentiation in their classrooms, working with individual students or groups of students to either help catch up or enrich.
Subject Expert Teachers usually hold advanced degrees in their respective field. Their expertise helps them understand how to break down complex subject matter, and they know what their students need to master in order to succeed at the next level.
LETs are assigned to a specific cohort of students for the school year. They lead these students to different subject specific classes throughout the day, which are taught by the SETs. In addition, LETs teach special Connections courses that weave together various lessons and subject matter from different fields. In Connections courses, students are taught how the concepts they have been learning are connected in the real world, such as how math and musical composition are closely linked. Together, the LETs and SETs bring an invaluable synergy to their classrooms that inspires students to love learning and to challenge their intellectual boundaries.
To gain a better understanding of just how powerful the LET/SET model is, consider what these LET/SET duos have to say about it.
Julie Molton-Roper (humanities SET) and Amanda Grunden (grade 2 LET):
Julie (SET) and Amanda (LET) are thankful to have one another to rely on, because it allows them to focus on what they do best.
“I love having a LET in the classroom,” Julie said. “Because of the LET I can focus on teaching just one subject and pay extra careful attention to my lesson plans.”
Teaching with a LET means Julie can focus on providing quality instruction, and rest easy knowing that if any behavioral issues arise it won’t derail the whole class, because the LET can pull students aside for an intervention.
As a LET, Amanda enjoys customizing instruction to best meet the needs of her students.
“The LET knows the students really well and can help guide and speed up their progress. We get to see the students in each of their classes so we know how to help out,” Amanda said. She would not have time to develop these relationships however, if she was constantly working on lesson plans.
Thanks to the SET, Amanda has time to pull individual students, or small groups of students, aside for customized instruction. She can identify when a student is struggling, get to the bottom of the problem, and design a plan to get them back on track.
Agustin Temporini (math/science SET) and Jason Grunden (grade 1 LET):
For Agustin (SET) and Jason (LET), one of the highlights of working together as a LET/SET duo, is the sense of comradery and teamwork that develops while corralling groups of energetic first graders.
“Working together definitely helps with the sanity factor,” Jason laughed. Having two teachers, each focusing on separate elements of classroom instruction, definitely helps keep the students calmer, he explained. As a result, everyone has more fun in class.
Besides the strong bonds that develop between LET/SET pairs, the model also offers many practical advantages.
Agustin finds that having the LET’s assistance not only gives him more time to lesson plan, but also to instruct and review. For example, “…without Jason, I could spend a quarter of the class period checking for parent signatures in Communication Journals,” Agustin said. By saving time on these types of administrative tasks, Agustin has more time to help the class review complex subject matter so they can fully understand it.
While Agustin leads the class in their daily lessons, Jason has time to observe the bigger picture and watch for any issues from the back of the class, potentially nipping them in the bud. “In another way, I’m the team manager. I know my kids, what’s going on, and what to do about it,” Jason said.
If Jason notices a student is struggling, either behaviorally or academically he can pull himself away for a moment to speak with parents in order to discuss possible solutions.
Beth Blackstone (humanities SET) with Melissa Vazquez (grade 3 LET):
As someone who taught outside of the BASIS Curriculum Schools network, Beth (SET) realizes the value in co-teaching with a LET, especially when it comes to parent communication.
“It’s nice for me to be able to focus on the planning and the delivery aspects,” Beth said. “The LET really takes care of parent communication.”
Melissa (LET) knows the classroom runs most efficiently when parents contact her first if they have questions or concerns. This way the SET can focus on instruction in an uninterrupted environment.
In a fast-paced academic setting, Melissa understands that parental involvement is necessary if students are going to get sufficient practice time in at home. She makes herself available to parents as much as possible, and gives them frequent updates on their child’s progress.
“I have parent meetings all the time. I meet with some parents weekly, and even talk to a few every day,” Melissa said. It just depends on the student’s individual needs and their academic standing, she added.
The duo agrees that working together enables them to have a positive impact on the lives of their students in a way that would not be possible if they were teaching solo. “I don’t think one person can do it alone. You can’t be emotionally there for one kid, and be there academically for 32 more,” Beth said.
The LET/SET model enables them to teach content ahead of grade level, and ensure that each student is able to master it before moving onto the next level.