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Noa van Oort; Anita Schmidt; and Liberty Tillman

What is team teaching

Terms such as team teaching, cooperative teaching and collaborative teaching have been used interchangeably for many years. Essentially, they address the same topic, with slight differences in delivery relating to the context.
Team teaching has been defined in multiple ways.  These definitions all share the same general idea; in any team teaching situation, there are two or more teachers who deliver lessons to a group of students.

Role Modelling
Teachers are role models for students. Team teaching can model collaborative decision-making and conflict resolution. (Wenger and Hornyak, 1999)
Knowledge:

Teachers with different areas of and ways of expresssing knowledge and expertise can help students and teachers learn more and feel more connected. (Wenger and Hornyak, 1999)

WANT MORE? This video provides a short introduction on what team teaching is.

Approaches to team teaching

 Model Description What it looks like in practice
One teach, one observe

 

 

Both teachers work together to establish an observation goal. One teacher will teach while the other observes the lesson. Afterwards they will meet to discuss observations and to brainstorm new ways of teaching, if needed. (Mewald, 2014) Team Teaching: How to Improve Each Other’s Game (Edutopia, 2011)

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3RcEuYG9UNc

One teach, one assist

 

One teacher teaches the lesson while the other offers support and guidance to those who need it. The lesson is most often planned by the teacher who is leading the lesson without any input from the assisting teacher. (Mewald, 2014) One Teach One Assist Format (Arkansas co-Teaching Project, 2017)

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EwnKGwllJ5Q

  Parallel teaching

 

Teachers co-plan the lesson, then each teacher teaches half the class. This allows for a better student to teacher ratio and therefore better support for students. (Mewald, 2014)

 

Parallel teaching (School of Education – CSU, Chico, 2015)

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gLi4LiUopwY

Station teaching

 

Teachers organise stations that can mainly be completed independently by students. One teacher guides the lesson while the other manages a station. (Mewald, 2014) Station teaching (School of Education – CSU, Chico, 2020)

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hrprg1r7kSs

Alternative teaching

 

One teacher teaches a larger group of students while the other works in small focus groups. This can be done with all levels of students either to review content or to push students. (Mewald, 2014) Alternative teaching (School of Education – CSU, Chico, 2015)

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fr-S5CGDXBQ

Team teaching

 

The teachers co-plan and co-teach the lesson. They are seen and treated as equals. They are each equally responsible for the delivery of content and the support of students. (Mewald, 2014) Successful Team Teaching at YES Prep (Edutopia, 2011)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GHIoqdAQ-Fs

Bringing outside experts (non-teachers) into the class

Team teaching does not have to be just from qualified teachers. To further enrich students’ learning, schools can work alongside parents or other members in the community to allow different knowledge and views into the classroom. Allowing non educators to co-teach allows for more diverse experiences and can create a more engaging learning environment (Gatt & Armeni, 2012). In this case you still have two professionals in the classroom however one specialises in education and the other in the specific content area.

In order to make this happen schools can hire Companies to help teach about certain topics like health or road safety, or they could find community volunteers to help with the learning process.

WANT MORE: Watch this video about bringing community experts into the classroom.

Advantages and disadvantages of team teaching

We now know what team teaching¬†is all¬†about and what different approaches you can take when taking the‚ÄĮstep in‚ÄĮteam teaching. But it is as well important to have a closer look into the advantages and disadvantages when working together in one classroom.

‚ÄĮ Advantages‚ÄĮ Disadvantages‚ÄĮ
For¬†¬† students‚ÄĮ
  • Meaningful relationship with teachers‚ÄĮ(‚ÄúTeam Teaching – Advantages, Disadvantages,‚ÄĚ 2019)
  • Improvement of academic‚ÄĮsuccess‚ÄĮ(Walther-Thomas, 1997 and Weichel 2019 (as cited in Murawski, 2009, p. 29))
  • Improvement of social skills‚ÄĮ(Walther-Thomas, 1997 and Weichel 2019 (as cited in Murawski, 2009, p. 29))
  • Not limited by the‚ÄĮthought of one teacher‚ÄĮ(Chitra Reddy, 2016)
  • Increases student participation
  • Fewer behavioural issues (O¬īLeary, 2015)
 

  • Overwhelmed by two teachers in the classroom
  • If the teachers‚ÄĮdo not work well together it can influence the classroom environment and the learning of the students
  • Bad team teaching can lead to learning difficulties and confusion (Stark, 2015)

 

For teachers‚ÄĮ
  • Personal growth in personality
  • Can create new friendships
  • Enjoyable working environment
  • Better organization and classroom‚ÄĮmanagement‚ÄĮ(Chitra Reddy, 2016)
  • Can help young teachers to gain more confidence in teaching‚ÄĮ(Halverson, n.d.)
  • Different‚ÄĮideas and visons on teaching‚ÄĮ(Halverson, n.d.)
  • No chemistry between the teachers
  • Conflict of roles‚ÄĮ(Halverson, n.d.)
  • Time consuming
  • Resistance from students
  • They have to accept change‚ÄĮ(Chitra Reddy, 2016)
  • Going overboard
  • Too high expectations

Benefits for students

Team teaching has different benefits, especially for the students in the class who are exposed to two teachers working together.‚ÄĮFirst of all, a great collaborative environment can help to create a safe and comfortable learning environment for the students.¬†More time¬†can help the teachers to maintain a relationship with each student on a deeper level. By creating this meaningful relationship with the¬†student,¬†the teachers might get to know more about the different needs of the¬†student,¬†and they could be able to include these into the classroom so that every student will have a great learning experience.

Benefits for teachers

Team teaching does not only have benefits for the students but as well for the teachers who collaborate with each other. Working with each other can help the teachers to grow, in their teaching but as well in their personality. It can create new friendships among teachers which can lead to a collaborative and enjoyable working environment.‚ÄĮEach teacher has different strengths which they can bring into the classroom, which could maybe take some of the pressure when organizing everything when teaching. Team teaching makes it possible to be more creative in the classroom and try out different activities which require more than one adult.

‚ÄúEducators who had experienced co-teaching found that they were more energized and creative, were able to trust one another, and had more fun teaching‚ÄĚ (Adams & Cessna, 1993; Murawski, 2003, as cited in Murawski, p. 29). Having more fun in teaching can increase the mental health of teachers as well as of the students who will notice if the teachers are having fun in their working environment which can increase their learning as well.

Team teaching can help the teachers to work on their teaching skills, by reflecting and getting feedback from a colleague and therefore grow and gain more knowledge about different topics and teaching itself. (Halverson, n.d.)

Disadvantages and challenges of team teaching

Next to all the advantages which team teaching might have, there are some disadvantages as well.

Each person is different and has a different personality, which might not comprehend with your personality type. Team teaching needs a lot of effort and commitment from both teachers, otherwise it can get really bad and have an influence on the whole working and learning environment.

This can end into a classroom with no structure and some students might be confused with two different teaching styles and they do not know what the teachers expect from them which can lead to learning difficulties (Stark, 2015)

Strategies / Tips

There are many different ways to make team teaching more effective.

Different moments in team teaching require different actions; planning, delivering lessons and development. Some of these strategies or tips can be applicable in different stages, some only for one.  (Morris, 2019)

Planning
  • Schedule time for planning and evaluation of how the process is working.
  • Plan for the workload to be shared.
  • Use your time wisely. You do not need to be teaching the same lesson. You can take turns teaching and working with smaller groups or individual students.

Communication

 

  • Keep each other updated.¬† Good communication is essential.
  • Communicate with parents, colleagues and administrators as needed.
Keep Goals in Mind
  • You are a role model. Keep this in mind whenever you disagree. Disagreement is healthy. Show your students that you can do this professionally.
Positivity
  • Larger classes can take longer in terms of students feeling positive about the team teaching. Take the time you need to build community and positivity.
Strengths
  • Make use of your strengths (knowledge, teaching, communication).
  • Benefit from the strengths of others.
More Tips:
  • Involve students: Ask for feedback.
  • Ask other teachers: Teachers¬† with experience team-teaching¬† can share stories and ideas with you and your team.
  • Be open-minded: Stay open to new ideas that can help improve the experiences and learning forryou and your students.¬† (Based on Halverson (n.d.)
Watch this video on making team teaching a beneficial and positive experience.

 

Questions to check for understanding and suggestions for reflection

  • Think of one type of team-teaching. Explain it in your own words and talk about when it might be useful.
  • Do you think team-teaching is beneficial or does it involve too many challenges? Why?
  • Are there any tips that you might use or suggest to others? Which ones? Why?
  • What type or approach might you use in your classroom? Why?

License

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Inclusive Perspectives in Primary Education Copyright © 2021 by Noa van Oort; Anita Schmidt; and Liberty Tillman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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