Ivy Waite and Jaime Groeller~ Grade 8 Humanities
After 10 months of experimentation, the question remains: will we continue to approach teaching in such a manner? Have the benefits to all stakeholders outweighed the challenges?
We believe the answer is yes! As mentioned in previous posts, team teaching in this manner does not “fix” all problems: in fact, it comes with its own set of challenges, but we truly believe that with a few small changes, many of which we have already instituted, our choice to team teach was, and is, the right one.
We will continue to plan, instruct, and assess collaboratively, despite the extra time required to do so. We will continue learning from each other and expanding our teaching strengths while working to mitigate our weaknesses, despite the mental and emotional effort these actions entail. We will continue to seek out the advice of our students to improve their learning experience, and our teaching abilities, despite the emotional turmoil it can cause. We will continue to team teach because ultimately, what is hard about team teaching is what makes it worthwhile for us. We are authentically being held accountable for all aspects of our practice. We are constantly having to reevaluate our ideas and understanding in the light of the other’s. We forced to challenge ourselves to become better teachers, collaborators, and learners.
For those of you out there who are looking at expanding your practice and engaging in team teaching, as we heard many are interested in doing during our session at ConnectED 2013 a few weeks ago, we would love to hear your stories, challenges, and advice to us and others. Our one piece of advice: Google Docs. We are lucky to teach at a school that tries very hard to provide us with collaborative planning time but we know that is not the reality for most schools. For those of you that are interested in
collaborating to some extent with another teacher but are having a tough time finding time to meet in person, check out the power of Google docs (and Google chat within Google docs) to set up digital meetings, lesson plans, reflections, etc. We had great success with this simple tool in our first year (check out our year plan here), and will return to it again next year as both a planning tool and a way to share documents and other information with our students. We also use Google docs to collaborate with our students and have them collaborate with one another! This year, despite our physical proximity (our rooms are right next door to each other), we often have a Google chat window open in a Google doc so we can communicate during the day!
Ultimately our choice to team-teach this year has enriched our practice and (most importantly) our student’s learning. We are excited to embark upon this journey once more in the Fall, and will continue to share our adventures with you. Thank you for joining us throughout our year together, have a great summer!