In the past I’ve taught in both collaborative teaching environments and in closed classrooms. I have to say, contrary to many other teachers, I MUCH prefer teaching in a closed classroom. I’m imaging that some of you might find you share some of the frustrations I’ve had when attempting to teach collaboratively.
Please note: When I talk about collaborative teaching (i.e. team teaching) I’m referring to a learning setting where a pair or a group of teachers are collectively responsible for multiple classes of students. In these settings, students don’t have a primary teacher, rather they are taught by a range of teachers. Teachers might teach certain lessons together, take separate fluid groups or one teacher may roam the room while another takes small groups or works one-on-one with students.
The following is a list of 10 reasons people have given me to try to convince me that collaborative teaching is a good idea. I’ve also included my take on each reason (i.e. what they really mean).
Reason 1: Experienced teachers can model quality teaching practice to the less experienced ones.
What they really mean: The experienced teacher will run the whole show and the less experienced teacher will act like an assistant. Think making coffee, photocopying, not having to plan and not being respected by the kids.
Reason 2: The workload can be shared within the team.
What they really mean: If you are the conscientious one you will end up doing EVERYTHING.
Reason 3: Team members can give each other honest feedback about the effectiveness of their teaching.
What they really mean: We know you’ll never tell your team mate that they’re @#$% but it sounds good in theory.
Reason 4: It’s beneficial for students to be exposed to a variety of teaching styles and teacher personalities. They may respond better to some more than others.
What they really mean: It’s like a popularity contest. You’ll have to compete with your teammates to win the kids over.
Reason 5: Collaborative teaching allows for more small-focus groups so teaching can be targeted to students’ individual needs.
What they really mean: Rather than getting to know 25 kids’ learning needs you’ll somehow need to get to know 70 children’s learning needs so that you can plan effective small group sessions.
Reason 6: You can model positive relationship skills to the students.
What they really mean: (grits teeth) “You WILL get along with your team mates.”
Reason 7: You can use each other’s strengths when planning.
What they really mean: Refer to number 2
Reason 8: There is more consistency for the kids because team mates cover each other when they’re sick or need time to plan.
What they really mean: You should feel guilty if you call in sick because your team mates will have to pick up your slack. And no. We don’t believe in forking out cash for relief/emergency teachers.
Reason 9: We’re very strategic about grouping teachers who we think will complement each other.
What they really mean: Refer back to number 2 AGAIN.
Reason 10: Closed classrooms are old school. We’re innovative so we’re committed to providing differentiated, fluid, student centred and rigorous collaborative teaching and learning opportunities that scaffold students to learn higher order thinking skills in 21st century flexible and open learning communities.
What they really mean: Bluuurrgghhhhh VOMIT… It’s not about you, it’s not about the kids, IT’S ABOUT IMAGE!
Credit to Educlips for the graphic.