Team Teaching

Team Teaching is ‘a group of two or more teachers working together to plan, conduct and evaluate the learning activities for the same group of learners.’ (Goetz, 2000) Team teaching is becoming more popular in education today. The advantages of team teaching include: students have two teachers to ask for help and support, students can connect with a different personality, different teaching and learning styles will take place, there is support for the teachers, lessons are planned together incorporating different ideas and creativity and teachers working together model teamwork and cooperation for students to experience. However there are also difficulties with team teaching. These can include a conflict of interests, clash of personality, an unfair distribution of the workload, different teaching styles, marking tests and classwork, different discipline methods and a feeling of unease teaching in front of a peer. The last one I think is a very real fear for some teachers. This week I was asked by a teacher to co-teach a lesson on minority religions. I agreed straight away but when I was planning what to bring to this lesson I found I was much more critical of my resources and approaches than I normally am. This got me thinking about this blog post and how we can overcome these fears of judgement in order to utilise team teaching to its maximum potential. From researching about team teaching I have compiled a list of ten ways to overcome any fears or hesitations you may have when it comes to team teaching. Feel free to add to this, agree or disagree below in the comments.

  1. Be prepared: Get together with your co-teacher and plan the lesson together. Talk about what resources you will use and the approaches you will take. Will you split the class or take turns teaching?
  2. Get to know the Co Teacher: Establish a rapport with the person. You will be working very closely with them for a number of weeks or months it is important to try to get along as much as possible.
  3. Know your content: If you know what you are talking about you will find you are less nervous. No body wants to make a fool of themselves in front of a peer (or anybody for that matter).
  4. Know your classroom: If possible go to the room you will be teaching in. Make sure there is enough space and you can both walk around to interact with students. No body likes an awkward side step or to fall over each other.
  5. Communicate: Talk about your teaching and learning styles with the co-teacher. What are your opinions on discipline? How do you reward students? Try to co-operate and merge your styles to create something that works for both of you.
  6. Be honest: If you are nervous before the class tell the other teacher. More than likely they feel the same or they will understand if you do happen to make a mistake or two before settling in.
  7. Observations: Sometimes peer teachers decide to observe each other teaching first in order to see how they can merge together successfully. Only difficulty is deciding who goes first 🙂
  8. Take it for what it is: The aim of team teaching is not to judge each others teaching abilities but to offer support for the students and each other. Realise that the focus of the lessons is not you it is the students.
  9. Reflections: Meet regularly with your co teacher to talk about what is going well and what needs to be looked at in a different way.
  10. Just do it: No better way to get over a fear than to jump straight in 🙂

These tips have helped me prepare and calm down for my first team teaching experience. I hope they can do the same for somebody else.

Happy Teaching 🙂

Advertisements

Blogging as a Method of Reflection

When I think about blogging and what I want to put into my blog I automatically think of other people. How can my blog help other people? What resources will others find useful? What have I learned that some other new teacher might not know yet? I never really thought about what I could take from my blog. Yes it is a nice place to keep my favourite resources but how else could it help me as a newly qualified teacher. This thought never entered my mind until I read an article by Maureen Killeavy and Anne Moloney on a study which looked at using blogs for reflective practice.

Reflective practice is a crucial part of being a teacher. No class no matter how well prepared we are is ever going to be 100% perfect. Some do go smoother than others but we still have to ask ourselves what made that class better than others? We are always reflecting even when we do not realise it. So how do we reflect efficiently? We are told to look back and see what went wrong or what worked well and build on that information to improve the next class. It is suggested that teachers, especially NQTs, keep a journal or diary for reflective practice. This is a nice idea but it is often not practical. Some teachers have eight classes a day and it can be hard to find the time to write in detail what made the class great. Often we find ourselves reflecting as we run down the corridor into the room that went downhill yesterday. When dealing with one class or one day this type of reflecting is often all we have time for (Not necessarily a good thing but we work with what we have).
What about the long term? How do we reflect on a month, six months or a years teaching? This is where the report says a blog can be extremely useful. On a blog we can document our thoughts and feelings throughout the year, the classes that went well and the ones that went not so well, our teaching and learning styles etc. We do not have to do a daily update but the report stated that teachers who blogged once or twice a week found it helpful to look back and see how far they had come. Some teachers reported that at the beginning of the school year as a NQT they felt alone, insecure, unequipped for some situations. After a year teaching they admitted to not realising how far they had come until looking back at their first blog posts and seeing that these feelings had improved or disappeared with experience. From the information we upload we can look back to see how we have changed for the good and sometimes the bad. We can see how far we have come as teachers. A blog has the added benefit that we can share it with others who have had similar experiences. People can comment and ask questions about your practice and offer advice and support which in my opinion all teachers need at some stage.
For this post I am talking about a reflective blog in the short term as in up to one year but imagine having something after a 30-40 year career in teaching to be able to look back at and say this is how far I have come and having one place to keep all the memories good and bad you have gathered along the way. This, I think, would be something extremely valuable and remarkable. This article has made me think about blogging in a completely new way and I hope to be able to use this new way of thinking to improve my blogging style in order to create something that can benefit me personally as well as other new teachers who may read my blog.