Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Why I miss team teaching

I've spent the last 5 years working in a school where team teaching is the norm and now I miss it more than anything else. I have always been involved in programs that involve some form of team teaching and these usually involved students who were disengaged and so, were taking part in some type of alternative program. In the past 5 years though it's been with senior secondary students, teaching maths with a teaching partner and our two classes.

What I miss the most is the collaboration and the planning together as you prepare for your class. I miss the sharing of ideas, the opportunity to get another opinion about how our students are going and just enjoying the conversations about learning that we have in this process.

There are some factors that I believe make team teaching work well. Firstly the teachers need to be committed to the ideal of teaching in a team and all that it entails. It can't be done well if the teachers believe they can just teach in their own style and they'll take turns leading the class. This, to me, isn't team teaching. There must be an agreed purpose to the way the class is structured. Teachers need to be open to the possibilities that team teaching provides and be ready to try something that may take them out of their comfort zones. The most challenging part of team teaching is either letting go the control to share the stage with a peer or putting yourself out there to show your style, to give away your secrets. I think if we've never team taught before we are in ether one of those camps but both depend on compromise.

Successful team teaching depends on teachers being able to bounce ideas off each other in the class. Imagine your students wondering who is going to say what next and listening as teachers clarify concepts, put differing opinions forward and engage them in the conversation. Imagine being able to take aside a small group for some extra help or extra challenges while your partner looks after the others. Imagine having backup all the time. I so miss it.

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