Team Teaching

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Team teaching, also known as collaborative teaching, is where two or more teachers take responsibility for the planning, teaching, and/or monitoring of the success of a particular group of students (Flanagan, 2001; Main and Bryer, 2005). Team teaching can and does have many forms. It may be as simple as two teachers sharing the same physical space, working on and from the same curriculum, collaborative teaching with the whole class or teaching where teachers take different combinations of students from the class for different lessons. It may also be shared resources and collaborative planning and sharing of assessment tasks between classes.

Mr. Klein, a teacher and principal of over 20 years, has had many experiences in the area of team teaching. One of these experiences was the combination of a year 5, 6 class with a year 6, 7 class. Together these teachers opened up the partition between their classes and worked in collaboration. Their planning was initiated at the beginning of each term with a collaborative expansion diagram looking at what they were going to cover. This formed a basis for their planning. For most lessons the classes worked as one. For specialist subjects like maths they did separate out, but for most lessons the teachers worked together and supported one another.

Benefits that Mr. Klein found in this team teaching role was it allowed better time management, there was a reduced planning workload, and better use of school resources. Having two teachers’ present in the classroom also meant that there was two times the expertise in a classroom. The reduced workload also allowed more time with the students. This idea is supported by Thousand & Villa (1990) when they discuss the interdependence between team teachers and how the combining of one's own expertise with that of other can result in better outcomes for students. He said it also gave flexibility to the classroom environment and while one teacher was teaching the other one could be preparing for the next task or working with other students.

One particular benefit that Mr. Klein found in this instance was having both a male and a female teacher in the one class. That provided an opportunity for students to work with both a male and female teachers. It also gave alternative outlooks on tasks, and apart the benefits this had for the students, as a teacher working with someone of the opposite sex, brought different approaches to the planning and teaching in a classroom.

The most important thing Mr. Klein outlined in regards to team teaching is the need for shared ownership of the class. The class is not just the one teachers, and following from this they both need to take responsibility for their class. Other important points he mentioned in regards to team teaching is the need for a clear structure and outline. All members of the team need to be aware of what is happening and how. He felt team teaching allowed a greater focus on the student and their needs. If a student was struggling, while one teacher took the class the other could work one-on-one with the student who required help. It also was a huge opportunity for professional development. Having another teacher watching and able to critically analyse your teaching styles and the way you operate allows you to have continual feedback and continually improve the way you teach, interact and operate. Team teaching can be applied in many different classroom situations. It can be utilised in areas where there are special needs students where one teacher may present the information aurally, while the other one may use sign language or supplement what is being presented in some other way to enhance learning. The classroom could even have two different activities run simultaneously (Flanagan, 2001; Team Teaching, 1996). It can even be applied outside of the classroom. One prominent example is where teachers collaborate materials together when they are teaching the same course. For example one...
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