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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Thoughts on team teaching?

Seeing as how most everyone on my grade-level team is quite overwhelmed, one of the teachers suggested team-teaching with me. That is, she would teacher literacy/social studies and I would teach math/science.

I am very seriously considering it, but I'm not sure.

The main reasons to say no:
-I am afraid that I would screw over TWO classes of kids on math. (And I'm not trying to be self-deprecating. It's just that I know I am a new teacher, and I know that our math program is one of the funky new ones where you're not allowed to teach the addition algorithm, the kids are supposed to "invent" or "discover" it on their own. So, there's some pressure to encourage that discovery.)
-I have always thought of myself as a "literacy" person. Doing this team-teaching would mean that I no longer teach guided reading groups. It would also take social studies away from me. And while I have yet to actually teach social studies this year, in theory it is my favorite thing to teach.
-I wouldn't get to see my kids develop in small group literacy/guided reading groups.
-My schedule is kind of sporadic. I haven't quite gotten things down to a perfect routine yet. If I did the team-teaching, I wouldn't be able to continue on with an activity past the alloted time due to an activity going really well, or due to an activity going really poorly.
-I wouldn't gain the experience of teaching everything.

Advantages to team-teaching:
-It would force me to follow my schedule. I would have to end things on time because it would be time for the kids to leave/switch classes.
-I would have one or two fewer things to plan for each day. This would allow me to spend more time perfecting the lessons that I do teach.
-The other teacher has 5 fewer students than I do. I would get to teach a class with fewer than 20 students for a while each day.
-My principal decided that we need to become a school performing at the second highest (out of 5 levels of performance) level recognized by the state. This means we need to get 25% of our students exceeding state standards. This is a very lofty goal. I would have a bit less pressure on me, if I weren't the one teaching guided reading groups.


I don't know, I don't know, I don't know. I need to decide soon, because if we were to team-teach, we would begin in a few weeks. There are such strong positives and such strong negatives about team-teaching. Am I a literacy person? Maybe I'm not. Maybe I can make myself be a math person. I enjoy teaching math, and find it really challenging with our fun reform math curriculum. I'm not sure that I'm serving the kids as well as I wish I was during math or during guided reading groups. The teacher I would team with is an experienced teacher, but new to the grade. She is an amazing teacher from what I can see, but struggling to figure out first grade. This would help us both fine-tune our craft in the respective subject areas. Perhaps later in the year we could switch subjects, even.

6 Comments:

Blogger The Science Goddess said...

Why not suggest an alternative? Perhaps, for reading and math, you ability group your kids each unit (keep things flexible so kids can move in and out based on progress monitoring)---maybe you take the middle to high group for math and she takes the low kids to give them some extra help during math time. Reverse it for literacy. Switch between units. That way, you still see your kids in all curriculum areas, but those who either need challenge or support can get it. It also eases your planning and prep because you are only targeting part of your population with each lesson.

9:54 PM  
Anonymous Not Quite Grown Up said...

That actually would be a neat idea, except Southwest State has some funky and legally questionable laws going on in the public schools wherein our classes are essentially segregated based on ability already. (That is, the schools are required to segregate based upon English language proficiency, however the way the test of language proficiency works, it targets students' cognitive abilities much more than their language proficiencies.) So, barring a few exceptions in both classes, my class is already mostly "average" to "advanced", and the other class is mostly "low" to "average" (whatever those labels actually mean).

1:37 AM  
Blogger La Brown Girl said...

I think this is a great idea. We did this a couple of times my first year and it really helped me. I know that you have more experience than I did my first year, but I still think this would be good for you.

Is it possible for you to teach literacy and social studies?

9:56 AM  
Anonymous s said...

Remember how much you like literacy?

Just saying :)

2:55 PM  
Anonymous Not Quite Grown Up said...

S, please don't remind me. It might make me sad.

10:10 PM  
Blogger Mrs. T said...

I would strongly recommend AGAINST tesm teaching in this situation.

Do not agree to teach a subject you are not excited about teaching. It will eventually drain the life force out of you. This is one of the reasons I burned out when I taught elementary - I am definitely not a math or science person, and teaching those subjects dragged me down (the guilt that I didn't spend as much time planning those lessons, knowing I was not qualified to teach those subjects, regardless of what the certification test said). If you even faintly, remotely think you are a literacy person and enjoy teaching social studies, DO NOT give those subjects up. Your first year is hard enough as it is - don't take the fun stuff out of it this early.

I suggest you and the other teacher plan together. You can share ideas and both of you can figure out the whole "teaching first grade" thing together (two heads are better than one, and all that jazz).

I think your kids would miss you. You need to stay with them. You don't want to be throwing their whole worlds out of whack by changing the entire structure of the class day, when they've barely gotten used to this way of doing things.

(If you and the other teacher wanted to team teach and switch subjects every grading period - first she does LA/SS and you do math/sci, then you do LA/SS and she does math/sci next grading period - that might be better for you the teachers, but I think that would be too much topsy-turvying for the kids. Don't give up the subjects you love... you need that!)

11:02 PM  

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