Five Tips for Team Teaching
It is difficult to deny the effectiveness of team teaching and many schools across the country, especially middle schools, utilize this teaching technique to maximize school resources and create a positive learning environment for students. However, as with any act of teamwork, team teaching is only as effective as each element of the team. Without proper planning and open communication, team teaching can devolve into an ugly mess that is bad for the teachers and for the students. Below are five tips to help teachers effectively educate when working as part of a team teaching team.
Five Essential Tips for Team Teaching
Many of the tips for effective team teaching come directly from teachers currently practicing team teaching techniques. These methods have been proven to work in the classroom environment, and are something to consider for anyone facing the prospect of team teaching.
Work on creating a true team
Not all teachers assigned to a teaching team will get along perfectly. Often, teachers with a wide variety of teaching styles are grouped together and expected to create a solid, workable curriculum. However, teamwork takes dedication and a commitment to the development of the team. Learn to respect each member of the team, and work hard to develop a bond with the other teachers. This means allowing each member to contribute in his or her most effective way. Recognizing each other’s skills and limitations will allow for a more effective approach to team teaching. Finding a way to perform like a team will be evident in the classroom.
Limit team sizes
While it may initially appear easier to teach a class with many team members to share the load, too many cooks in the kitchen simply spoils the sauce. According to a representative of the National Middle School Association, teaching teams consisting of more than three members are not as effective at reaching consensus about issues. Team teaching with one to two other teachers is ideal. No matter how challenging the personality, two or three individuals should be able to reach some semblance of an agreement about any issue facing the team.
Often teachers who work together as a team fail to take the time to plan. The team assuming their approach will somehow all come together in the classroom without proper preparation is a surefire path to failure. Even if such an approach works once, it will not work repeatedly.
Teaching teams should set aside time to plan before the beginning of the semester and arrange regular meetings at a specific time each week. Planning time should be devoted to several things, including:
- Determining and reiterating the goals of the team
- Communicating where each team member is in relation to the team goals
- Determining what must be done to achieve the team goals in the future
Making weekly status checks with the team, as well as to finding solutions to setbacks and celebrating successes, will help ensure team teaching success.
Good communication makes for a good team. Without communication, team members have no idea where other members are, and cannot adapt to the changing situations in the classroom.
Education World, an online education resource, talked with a variety of team teachers to find out what worked best for them. The majority of these teachers said the most important trait for effective team teaching was the ability to laugh. If team teachers do not communicate well enough to laugh, something is wrong.
Things change constantly in the classroom, something any teacher should be familiar with. This is no less true of team teaching. Teachers who are not willing to roll with the punches, to adapt to change both with the team and with the students, will not do well.
Team teachers must accept that each member of the team will have good days and bad days, and must be willing to adjust accordingly.
With the right approach, team teaching works
Becoming part of a teaching team can be an exciting and rewarding experience, as long as each member approaches the situation in the right way. Planning, flexibility, and understanding the nature of teamwork will help keep team teaching on track, benefiting both the students and the teachers.