Team Teaching – an all or nothing phenomenon?

Team teaching has the potential not only to raise your game as a teacher, but also to elevate learning for our students, however these outcomes are not easily achieved. Working in IB schools it is easy to marry the values of the team teaching approach with collaboration and the IB learner profile for teachers; after all it challenges your practice on every level!
I once taught in a school where team teaching was not an option, but compulsory. Although I learned a lot, at times I found it frustrating and a bit stifling to my practice. I think if there had been more supporting systems in place it would have been amazing. My personal perspective on collaboration of this nature is; if it’s too forced it can lead to unnecessary challenges that can impair teaching and learning. However, like so many things in life it is possible to identify degrees of practice, especially when it comes to team teaching. If a school as an open mind to teaching many strategies can be scaffolded into the school culture in low stakes ways, like this one…
Tuning in – This works best if the lead teacher does not reveal too much about the unit to the children, as she attempts to hook their curiosity. As the teacher leads the tuning in activity, the co-teacher circulates around the class and asks students; “what do you think the unit is about?” Or, “what do you think you will be learning in this unit.” After the tuning in, teachers debrief and engage in reflective dialogue – the important part! The lead teacher shares what she was trying to achieve through the tuning in and the co teacher shares what she heard the students say.
Of course to utilise such a strategy does not necessarily need a co teaching approach, it could be done as a reflective activity with the students after the tuning in. However, the value added effect of the team teaching approach is making public one’s practice. In turn this supports greater validity of our teaching and creates a context for further collaboration between teachers.
More on team teaching some other time!

One thought on “Team Teaching – an all or nothing phenomenon?

  1. Great thoughts once again. I love your ideas about tuning in by having another teacher present to go around asking questions. We just actually touched on this a bit with our incoming superintendent a couple weeks ago. The aspect of making oneself vulnerable and opening our doors to other teachers more regularly is a great way to grow and one that I myself definitely don’t do enough.

    Also, in speaking of utilizing others to improve teaching practices, I’m hoping you might be able to share your expertise of the PYP with me. Just today my team was looking more closely at the PYP’s ‘stance’ that the school’s second language should be visible in the classroom and around the school. Our school’s second language is French, and although there is some written French visible on campus, it is not visible in our classrooms. A suggestion was that we label things around the class in French, but we argue that this seems to be somewhat superficial in that we are just labeling in order to have French visible; it is not necessarily greatly enhancing our learning, especially if we aren’t using it. We were therefore trying to focus on the reason behind the call for written second language and how we might use this to truly help our KG classrooms be more rich. Are you able to answer how this might look and how we might use it?

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