Monday, July 15, 2013

Seeking Feedback on a New Idea

     This year I'm going to get to go through a trial run of something new in our high school. As far as I know, it hasn't been done before in any school around here; it actually is something you'd see more in a college setting. I will be team teaching algebra 2 and pre-calc with another teacher. This isn't co-teaching in a sense that most teachers think about - I will be teaching these classes with another math teacher. Essentially what will happen is we'll combine our two classes (50-60 students in one room with two math certified teachers). My colleague and I are excited about this opportunity and knowing that it's never been done before, we are expecting both successes and failures as we go through this process.
     We started teaching across the hall from each other this year, and because of this, started sharing what we were doing in our classes. If I thought something went great, I'd share my excitement. If something went poorly, I'd ask his advice. He did the same. In this collaboration we realized that we had very similar teaching styles. We both have a desire to push our students to their highest level through problem solving. We also want our students to understand why all of this math works. The 'why' is the biggest part; we stress that more than anything. All of this produced the idea of teaching together. We were curious to see what we can do together in the same room bouncing ideas off of each other as the class progresses.
     We tried this is short bursts last year. We would poke our heads into each others' rooms during our planning and just jump in the lesson, adding our two cents when appropriate. It worked great because we were able to think of things that the other didn't. The students never knew who was going to speak (we didn't either) and because it was new to them, they were hooked. After doing it randomly without planning at all throughout the year, we asked the students which they liked better - one or two teachers. Hands down they all preferred the two teacher model. They liked the "structure" and they liked getting ideas and info from different perspectives. They also liked being able to get individual help. After these few lessons were assessed, their achievement was up (not that there was a cause and effect relationship).
     Together we loved teaching this way. I think we were able to learn from each other as much as the students were learning from us. Obviously we saw great potential in this style which is why we are pursuing it on a grander scale.
     However, I write this not to share my experience so much, but to ask a favor. We want to make this as beneficial for our students as possible. So I ask you: If you had the opportunity to teach with someone that you really worked well with (whether its in your building, or a fellow tweep, some make believe person you have yet to find, or a body double of yourself... or Dan Meyer) everyday, what are some things you would do in the classroom? How would you organize it? What could you do with two math teachers in 90 minutes for 50 students? We will be teaching algebra 2 and pre-calc, are there any specific topics that you could do some really beneficial stuff with? What are some challenges you foresee? How should assessment be handled? Literally, what are any thoughts you have with this? Do you think it will be a disaster, or do we have a chance?

2 comments:

  1. Let me say this is awesome, in part because I was musing on the very same thing a couple of months ago. At the time, my thought had been subdividing aspects of the curriculum, so that prep and marking could be shared. That is, one teacher handles most (not all) of the prep for Trig, then while they're marking it, the other teacher is handling most of the prep for Exponents (or whatever). You could even cycle back to Trig after that. No idea how feasible it is, and since I don't teach in the US, I can't offer anything course specific.

    That said, I don't recommend one teacher do all the teaching for an entire unit; you may want to work out in advance where your individual strengths are. Not just in subject, but in terms of group work or the like. But if you're able to alternate doing observations, I think that would be beneficial all around. You'll also need to coordinate for things like parent-teacher contact/interviews, so you don't accidentally send conflicting messages... maybe keep a binder, and have one of you take point for those you'd contact more frequently. And if one of you is sick, I'm not sure if a substitute teacher would find things easier or harder.

    But you definitely have a chance. I'll be very interested to know where this goes.

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