“You cannot expect other people to create meaning for you. You cannot wait for someone else to define your life. You make meaning by forging it with your hands. It requires sweat and commitment. Working toward the creation of meaning is the point. It is action that forges the meaning and significance of a life.” ~Anne Bogart: and then, you act (pg.2)
Budgets are being slashed, teachers are in danger of losing their jobs, and I’m preaching about Team Teaching? Yes, for a number of reasons. Teaching, today, is harder on the individual teacher. More students per teacher. Loss of status in the eyes of many parents, students and some school administration. New programs being tossed in, sometimes willy-nilly (well,it seems that way), to see what sticks.
Someone who has been in the system a long time, or retired, might feel I am off the mark about it being harder today. I apologize if that offends you. Things were very different when I was in school. Heck, when my kids were in school. The lack of focus (except on their texting and posting to FB or Twitter) in the classroom, the disrespect to each other and the teacher (again, generalizations, but they are happening, so don’t kid yourself if YOUR class or student is not like that), the lack of consequences overall, working without supplies in some places, or clutterd rooms with broken material (chairs, etc).. all this adds up to taking headache relievers at night. And in the morning. Maybe two mid-day would help as well. Let’s add in the parent who calls up yelling, and berating the teacher: “Why did my child get a 90 when they deserved 100?” instead of talking to them (this just happened to a teacher I know YESTERDAY). The teacher as enemy, not guide, not giver of knowledge, not trusted to do the right thing.
Yes, some don’t deserve that. That’s not the topic here, but an aside.
I have experienced successful and powerful team teaching in practice myself, many times throughout my education experience. I briefly mentioned my experiences in an earlier blog (Team Teaching). I find that, with proper and extensive planning, the teachers learn so much from each other and they then have a deeper level to share with their class. With the onset of integrated classrooms, the various learning modifications that must go on, well..two is better than one. More students needs are met (on many levels), more area can be covered once the main section of the lesson is underway, and a broader approach is allowed in the learning process.
The choice of the illustration that leads this piece was very intentional. What struck me was not just two random teachers, but the sharing of a classroom of Math and Literacy/English. My professional belief is that integration of the classrooms did not go far enough: by having teams built around the various subject, and arts discipline, teachers can have wide ranging successful results.
By finding intersection points between all the subjects, and varying the approach to teaching styles, there is a greater chance to engage the students. That is what is should all be about. Taking a test to test about taking a test…yes, talked about this before. Engaging the kids, getting them to THINK, not blindly follow, to problem solve, to learn the lessons they need to survive in life, to foster inquiry, inquisitiveness, and an ongoing thirst to know more throughout their lives, and pass it on to the generations to come.. this is what an approach to team teaching can and should be.
Corporations always talk about The Team and team building. This is not a new model, coming out of no where. Yet, the resistance can be of great magnitude.
Kind of simple when you look at it. Time is shared during preps and IN the classroom. The teacher can be supported and bolstered by having another adult presence. Egos must be checked when the teacher(s) leave their homes. Territoryism practice and the “this is MY space” needs to be overcome. Many of the negatives could be lessened if acceptance, need to share, play well with others, listening, real communications, (things we tell the kids, but..) and more were put into action BY THE ADULTS.
I believe in Team Teaching. Do you have any stories of effective partnerships?
How about ineffective ones? What did you learn/take away from that?