19 Apr Co-Teaching: One Key to a Successful Program
When a school is preparing to launch Geometry in Construction or Algebra 1 in Manufacturing Processes, Entrepreneurship & Design, one of the early questions asked is what makes a successful pair of co-teachers? According to initial university research on our programs in Loveland, the teachers are strategic in the success. The single most important teacher indicator is a positive attitude. An attitude of “we will make this successful no matter what” is at the top of the list. However there are many other topics that need to be explored by the teacher pair to determine their success. This summer, during the 4-day teacher workshops, a portion of the time will be devoted to developing successful teacher pairings. We refer to the pairings as “work spouses”. Here are some of the topics for you to consider and that we will explore in the workshops this summer.
Defining the roles at school. As a teacher pair, be sure to let the other teacher know what is expected from him/her during the teaching process. Who takes attendance? What should a teacher be doing while the other instructs? Where should a math teacher be during the CTE time? What should the CTE teacher be doing during math homework time? How can the other teacher help with the grading processes? When we started 11 years ago, we developed a job description for each of us
Work hours. Determining what are the expected work hours of the other teacher is important. Is it the contract day? Is it a later arrival and later departure? What are the other person’s personal time commitments? When does prep time for the class occur? How flexible can each be with the work hours so as not to bother the other work spouse? When does the peak energy/work productivity occur for each teacher?
What are my non-negotiables? As a teacher, what am I willing to change? But more importantly, what are the things I believe are foundational truths that I will not change? My foundational truth that I would not give on was that I believed we should have a class for ALL kids….not elite and not watered down.
Student discipline. Who is going to take care of discipline? What does “taking care of the discipline” look like in the classroom? Are you willing to do this for the other teacher? What do students do that really pushes your “button”?
Respect. What does respect for each other look like? How can I as a teacher show the other teacher respect?
Comfort level. What are your biggest fear(s) as a teacher of this program? What can I do to minimize that fear? Describe what you bring as a strength to the partnership.
What are the indicators that students are successful? It probably is not the same for both of you. Go beyond just talking about letter grades, but give characteristics.
Brutal honesty. All teachers will rub the other teacher the wrong way at some point. Can you agree upon a way to let the other teacher know what bothers you? Is it in written form? Is it instantly in front of students? (I hope not) Is it verbally in a preset meeting time? Can you handle brutal honesty or will you react negatively?
It is this last topic that teachers must dwell upon. No matter how much planning of the ground rules beforehand, there will be times that you as a teacher team must “clear the air”. If you don’t, feelings of resentment will enter into the relationship with the friction in the teaching relationship being noticed by students.