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Sunday, 30 March 2014

What IS "Team Teaching?"

On Friday, Greg and I were observed by Anne Sinclair (recipient of the Teaching Excellence Award, 2004) from the University of Auckland, who is currently researching and assisting teachers involved with the MDTA (Manaiakalani Digital Teachers Academy).  After the usual hour long observation, of which Greg and I were involved with our Maths groups, we left the class to carry on with their work (supervised, of course) and sat in the staff room with our coffees, ready for our follow up discussion.

Prior to the observation, Greg and I were nervous.  We are both venturing into this 'team teaching' thing together for the first time, so had no idea what kind of feedback or feedforward we would receive.  We made the decision not to do anything 'special' for the lesson - but to just carry on with the usual routine and see where to from there.

It turned out that we weren't so bad after all.  Anne gave us such positive feedback.  Greg left the room with an new air of confidence that every PRT gains when being told that what they're doing is great.  I left the room feeling affirmed and overwhelmed because, as mentioned, Greg and I really are kind of making this whole thing up as we go along!  Neither of us had experienced this type of teaching before.

The conversation was lead by Anne's questions.  I am trying to remember everything we shared, which I will bullet point.

What is the one most important thing you need to establish at the beginning of the MDTA programme?

  • Building relationships with the students
  • Establishing the MDTA teacher as a teacher who is in equal partnership with the mentor teacher and not in a secondary teacher/student teacher/teacher aide type role.
  • Mentor teacher letting go of control and trusting the MDTA teacher with classroom responsibilities and listening to their ideas.
  •  The first thing any effective teacher has to do, is simple - LIKE THE STUDENTS YOU TEACH.  Kids know when you don't like them.  And like, any other human being - you act differently towards people that like you, compared to people you know don't like you.
What are your next steps for next term?
  • (Greg) to become more familiar with assessment analysis protocols at TPS.
  • (Greg) improve on behaviour management strategies to promote better cognitive engagement.
  • (Kyla) continue to help Greg strengthen his teacher practice.
  • (Kyla) take risks that wouldn't usually be taken with only one teacher in the room e.g. messy science lessons!
I left the room feeling less awkward than I had been working with Greg - not because of personal reasons - but simply because as a 'mentor,' I didn't really know what I was doing - but using my instincts and drawing from my experiences as an associate teacher.  I left feeling excited.  I left feeling affirmed.  It has been a challenge, but now we know we're on a positive pathway, we are excited to build on this and strengthen our practice, together.  Of course - this will all benefit the most important people of all - the children. 

Co-Teaching Models

 Here is an interesting info-graphic, which aims to illustrate the different types of 'team teaching' models.  It's funny because I don't feel that two teachers up the front of the class lecturing is effective - much the same as if it were one teacher up the front.  I think that Greg and I are currently practicing the 'Parallel Teaching' approach.  Especially during instructional group times like Reading and Maths.  Other parts of the day, I think we practice the 'Alternative Teaching' approach.  What are your experiences with team teaching?  What principles underline your approach, if different to ours?  

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