Duncan Bowyer- Lead Practitioner
…To teach with!
The joys of team-teaching
The end of term is a time to reflect – to think about the WWW and EBI of the life of a teacher! As we say goodbye to this academic year, I also say goodbye to a two year secondment working as a University Lecturer training new teachers. This was the best of both worlds – being in school for three days a week and then working in schools across London (and sometimes the whole country) supporting English departments and the teachers of tomorrow. Perhaps some of the best CPD one could ask for!
As my secondment comes to an end, I thought I would reflect on my own experiences of working with new teachers and helping develop our practice through team teaching.
This was a concept that I had never really considered until I started working with a post-graduate student who was finding it difficult to command a presence in the classroom. Even though the lesson was planned and resourced well, the delivery needed some work.
A very experienced University colleague suggested that I team teach to model best practice. I had been undertaking a range of research with my students into Fisher and Frays’ Gradual Release of Responsibility approach (GRR). Put simply: I Do It, We Do It, You Do It!
So it was decided – the ‘We Do it’ was the way to go!
The advice I was given was that for this to be effective we should keep the team teaching experience as structured as possible.
1) Team Planning and setting the brief: Before the lesson it was important to meet and to work out what was the learning objective of the lesson. We realised it was crucial that this team teaching did not interfere with the SOL that was being taught. The team planning worked well as we could discuss exactly what skills we were trying to teach the students – it allowed us both to see how the planning could be developed. If there is a particular pedagogical approach that would beneficial, this is the time to introduce it.
2) Practice in an empty classroom: This sounds really silly but believe me it works! Before the students arrive walk through the lesson with the teacher. Consider questions that will be asked: when is the right time to hand out the resources? How will the groupings work if there is student led learning? It also supports the teacher to feel more comfortable with the structure of the lesson so they can focus more on the learning. The learning drives and dictates the direction of the lesson – not necessarily the tasks!
3) Assign the roles: Consider at what point you as the more experienced teacher will model best practice. It may be that you start the lesson modelling how we can set the tone for the learning. It may be taking the transitional phases within the lesson to demonstrate how AFL can be utilised or it may be demonstrating how questioning can be used to develop responses to foster stretch and challenge.
4) Offer the support as and when: Sometimes a gentle nudge in the right direction is all that is needed. It may be as simple as explaining to your colleague ‘do you think they need more time here?’ or ‘they’ve got it! Do you feel ready to move onto the next phase?’
For example, I remember in the team taught lesson, there was a group discussion task. I noticed that a group were going off task so quietly said to the new teacher ‘go and ask them if there are any other ways they could interpret that quote’. This then led to a very engaging and informative discussion between the group and the teacher. Quite simply the teacher hadn’t quite noticed the passively disengaged behaviour (which takes experience to recognise) – but when this was identified they really stepped up!
5) Reflect – this is crucial! At the end of the lesson both teachers take the time to sit and discuss the lesson. What worked well and, what pedagogy that you modelled was identified by your colleague?
This is a really enjoyable and informative approach to working with colleagues. I recently team taught with a very experienced wonderfully gifted teacher – in the reflections I realised that there is always a vast amount to learn in this profession! Just as students can learn from us, we can (and should) learn from each other.