By Teachers, For Teachers
Team teaching has become quite a trend in elementary schools, and middle schools have utilized this technique to maximize school resources for decades now. It’s hard to deny the effectiveness of team teaching: It’s a great way to create a positive learning environment for students, and it gives teachers a chance to focus on one or two subjects, rather than five or six.
However, team teaching can be quite a feat without proper planning and communication with other teachers. Many educators have found several teaching strategies that have proven to be successful -- here are a few.
Whether you are an elementary school teacher and switch classes with your neighbor, or you are a middle school teacher and only teach one subject, you have to be able to communicate with your fellow teammates. Good communication makes a successful team. Without it, team members will have a hard time adjusting to any new changes. Make sure that you set aside time each day or week to communicate with your other team members. Be kind and respectful, and always be willing to share your ideas, as well as listen to others.
It can be challenging to work in a team, you need to be flexible. Things will arise that you may not like, and you will need to go able to just go with it. With the constant changes in curriculum and the standards, teachers need to be able to roll with the punches. If you are the kind of person that has a hard time with this, then you will not do well in a team. Be prepared for the unexpected, and be flexible when working within your team.
Organization and planning is a huge part of a successful team teaching experience. Oftentimes, teachers think that their own classroom approach will somehow fit in with the other teachers approach and all will come together in unison. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Without proper preparation this can lead to failure. You need to sit down with the other teachers to plan your rules and routines so there is some consistency between the classrooms. Communication and planning go hand in hand. When you communicate with your fellow teachers, it makes it easier to plan and create higher quality lesson plans. It is also important to have regular routines so students know what to do to exit and enter the classroom as well as what materials they need. Enter and exit slips are a great strategy to implement for this.
Working to create a true team will take a lot of respect. Not everyone on a team is always going to get along. Everyone has their own teaching styles and opinions on how to teach. So working together and trying to create a solid foundation can be quite a task, and everyone on the team will need to learn to respect every member on the team and their opinion. It can be hard to develop a strong relationship with other members on your team, you need to learn to recognize everyone’s skills and limitations as well as learn to respect them for they are. The most effective way to do this is by allowing each team member their time to shine and contribute the best way that they know how to.
One of the best parts of team teaching is the division of labor. If you are an elementary school teacher and take on just a few subjects then it is great to be able to share the workload with your partner. If you are a middle school teacher, then you most likely team teach one or two subjects and still are able to share the workload with your team. Keep in mind that it is best to “share” the workload, not get assigned specific tasks. This is when communication needs to be at its best. Teachers tend to resent their teammates when they are assigned a task and not asked their opinion on it. So make sure that you plan together to share your workload in the best way that all team members seem fit.
Working together with another teacher or in a team teaching situation can be a very rewarding experience. Like any relationship, it take time to develop and you will need to be patient. By implementing all of these strategies you are setting yourself up to succeed. With a little planning, flexibility and communication, team teaching can benefit both students and teachers.
Do you have any tips for team teaching? Please share them with us in the comment section below, we would love to hear your ideas. You never know, your tip may just be the inspiration a teacher needs.
Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a Master's of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators.