to Work Collaboratively Allison Demas
the new mandated math program and the reading and writing
workshop models there isn’t much room for flexibility
in planning your day. If your school has blocked in math and
reading periods, then you don’t have a choice at all.
Add this arrangement to a team teaching situation and you
either have an opportunity for incredible growth on the part
of both the teachers and the students or an opportunity for
total disaster. I have witnessed both. One problem arises
from the selection of the teachers themselves. Very often
they are hired separately without regard to personality or
working styles. Administrators’ hands are tied due to
the rules of licensing and seniority. The teachers’
hands are tied due to administrative decision.
have to make do with what you are given.
look at your schedule. If your school has blocked in periods
then you simply insert the reading, writing and math periods
into those blocks. If your school allows flexibility in scheduling
then you need to look for a large block of time which is consistently
free, by that I mean uninterrupted time everyday. This should
be your reading workshop period. It should be the same time
everyday. If you can, follow your reading workshop with the
writing workshop. This generally brings most classes to midday
and a lunch period. Math can follow lunch.
you have to look at yourselves. Critically examine your teaching
styles. Look at the reading instruction first. If one of you
is a stronger reading teacher then that person should initially
undertake the task of all reading instruction. By default,
the partner must handle the math instruction. Math instruction
is easier to plan since the Everyday Math program gives a
detailed daily schedule. Even if you are uncomfortable with
math you just follow the guidebooks.
team teaching requires that one person teaches the lesson
while the other person assists. Depending upon working and
personality styles, this may mean interjecting in the group
discussion. If you are very comfortable working with each
other, then you may want to split the lesson, each teaching
a portion or demonstrating how to work as partners. During
guided reading each teacher should take a reading group. You
may want to duplicate this during the math period.
not mean that one teacher plans one topic (i.e. reading) and
the other plans another. Your planning is done together. You
both should be seeing all the students for reading (it’s
not “my students and your students” - it is “they
are our students”). You should both be assessing the
student needs and discussing these needs. Your plans come
from these needs. I did write that initially one teacher should
undertake the task of all reading instruction. Note the word
“initially.” That is how your year should start,
until you get your footing and a routine begins to develop
with the students. Once the students are comfortable with
the way their day should flow, you each need to start taking
responsibility to share the content instruction.
taking a team teaching position, you must first examine yourself,
your abilities and your motives. If you cannot share responsibility,
if you are not willing to relinquish authority, if you are
not going to hold up your share of the burden, then you have
no business in this position. It is not just a job. It is
a very important and critical aspect of children’s lives.
If you are thrown into a situation with someone ill-equipped
to handle it then you must do everything in your power to
make it work.
of working collaboratively means remembering that you are
not the primary focus-- the students are. Everything must
be done with their best interests in mind. If you are both
professionals, and consider the students’ needs first,
then you should be able to figure out what steps you need
to take in order to make the year a successful and productive
one for all concerned. It is a delicate dance and you need
to work out the choreography.