Sunday, November 8, 2009

Perils of Team Teaching

The Veteran's Documentary Class that I am team teaching has been a great learning experience for me. We are creating a curriculum that is cutting-edge, using web 2.0 tools and also giving our students some real world social connections with older generations that they may not otherwise experience. In that sense, I think we have been successful. The team teaching has been a bit of a mixed bag. Vanderbilt's Center for Teaching says "experienced teachers often recall team teaching experiences as their best and worst experiences in a classroom." I would have to agree.

Team teaching is a bit like choosing a roommate in college. Usually you chose a friend, which can be a good thing or bad thing. Sometimes, you pick a person because they have the expertise you need and find that they are wonderfully pleasant to work with and a mentor to boot. Sometimes things work out, you have chosen a friend and you remain friends, your friendship grows deeper and you have a wonderful year.

Whatever happens, before you go into a team teaching environment, I think it behooves you to take a look at the following Ten Commandments from two Stanford professors. The key to a successful team teaching endeavor is to have EVERY member on board as a fully participatory member. That means that Commandments 1-7 are followed without fail. You all have to function as a team. You all have to be on board and understand every lecture, every assignment. You support each other and are able to add your different opinion to the mix.

Team teaching is not two or three teachers teaching separate things in isolation, which is often what administration thinks. It's important to educate your administration that all members of your team are teaching all classes.

Another thing that I have found that is important is that the students come first. So, if you have a disagreement about something, you need to sublimate your ego and put the student's needs in front of your own. But remember, I'm a librarian and this is my first class. All you teachers know this already! 8-)

Team teaching: it's worth the effort!

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