Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Team Teaching: Is It A Viable Pedagogy?

Team-Teaching 024
Team-Teaching 024 (Photo credit: Baha'i Views / Flitzy Phoebie)
by Richard D Boyce

For most of our career as teachers, working alone with our class is the norm. Working together in a team teaching situation with other teachers is unusual.

However, much can be gained both for the student and the teacher in using a team teaching approach.

Here are some reasons why it can be useful:

1. Young, inexperienced teachers can learn much by planning with and observing more experienced teachers presenting segments of the lesson.

2. On the other hand, the young teacher can introduce new pedagogy to his/her more experienced colleagues.

3. Older, more experienced teachers, during the planning process, can be reminded of long forgotten ideas/techniques they had used successfully in the past. These may even be added once again to their teaching repertoire.

4. Sometimes, a particular teacher has a greater expertise/interest in a particular topic area. This knowledge will not only broaden the students' understanding but also that of other teachers in the team.

5. Students gain a better understanding of a topic when it is approached in the various ways that different teachers will present the topic.

6. The non-preforming teacher/s can sit back and watch his/her students during the learning process. This could help the teacher to adjust their teaching approach to maximise the learning of all the students in the class.

7. With extra teachers in the room, discipline becomes easier. This is only the case if time is taken to ensure students are seated in places where they will not be easily distracted and the room is organised so all the students are seated comfortably and have a good view.

8. There can be more 'one on one' assistance from the other teachers in the room for those students who need it most.

9. Technology can be used effectively with large groups, therefore maximizing the use by more groups within the school of these expensive resources.

10. The team teaching approach may allow other teachers, at appropriate times, to offer additional points and explanations as well as ask questions or clarification on behalf of students.

11. Teachers can meet later to share feedback on the lesson and their 'performance' in it. This is especially important for young teachers whose teaching can be more effective through the coaching of experienced teachers. The young teacher can ask for a critique on particular aspects, e.g. questioning technique from his/her more experienced colleague.

Some other points to note:

• Pre-planning is essential.
• The subject work program could suggest areas where team teaching is appropriate.
• Planning should take place initially when the team meets to discuss the term's work. Here, responsibilities should be decided and the final planning meeting date organised.
• A teacher who has a special interest or expertise could accept the responsibility of being team leader with specific topics. This person would plan the lesson/s and allocate the teachers involved their parts in the lessons.
• Not all topics are team teaching friendly.
• It must be agreed who is the teacher in control. Others can offer suggestions during the lesson at appropriate times only.

The question asked in the title of this article, "Is team teaching a viable pedagogy?" can only be answered if a group of teachers work together to try it out. The article gives you reasons why it is worth the effort to give it a try.

This article is another example of one of the many teaching approaches/pedagogies that our author used during his long career. In his role as Head of Mathematics, he was required to in-service his staff with the new teaching strategies/pedagogues mandated in the new syllabuses that were introduced during the late 1980s, 1990s and the early years of the 2000s. You will find many of these discussed in eBooks by our author on the website

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