The key to successful team teaching is good communication and an attitude of always doing what works best for your students. One of the first things you and your partner should do is have a "meeting of the minds" to talk about expectations, responsibilities, and individual beliefs about planning, classroom management, and instruction. Here are some ideas to get the conversation moving in the right direction.
Beliefs and Philosophy – Teachers tend to have a philosophy about teaching that makes them passionate about certain strategies, techniques, and programs. You and your partner will benefit from spending an hour sharing your philosophies and your perspective on the following questions:
- What type of classroom management program do I feel comfortable with?
- How do I prefer to assess and grade students in each subject area?
- How much extra time and money am I able to spend?
- What approaches to teaching are so close to my heart that I can't give them up?
- Based upon my philosophy of teaching, what teaching practices do I disagree with?
- What are my strengths?
- What are my weaknesses?
Planning – Decide how you will plan for instruction on a daily basis. Both of you should have a clear vision of what will be taught, who will teach it, how the lesson will be taught, what materials will be used, how it the lesson will be evaluated, and what each partner will do during the lesson.
Managing – You will also need to arrange the classroom, determine your weekly schedule, and establish classroom procedures. It is important that you equally divide routine tasks, such as who writes the daily agenda on the board, who handles lunchroom duty, who conducts the morning procedures, who collects homework, who cleans up at the end of the day, and so on. Tasks can remain consistent or be shared on a rotational basis — just make sure you and your partner know who is responsible for each task. Decide what you expect from students in terms of behavior. This list may help:
- What rules are important?
- What consequences for student behavior, both positive and negative, should be implemented?
- Should students clean off their desks before leaving the room?
- Should students raise their hands to speak, or may they speak out?
- Should students remain at their desks during work time?
- What noise level is acceptable to both partners?
- How will teachers get students' attention?
- Does everyone have to clean up just the thing he or she used, or do students work until the whole room is cleaned?
- What will you do if a student misbehaves or is defiant?
- What if a student doesn't want to participate in a lesson?
Some things may change as the year continues, but you and your partner should agree on changes by evaluating the effectiveness of the teaming situation.
Instruction – As you learn more about each other's expectations, you can begin to explore effective ways to work together in the same classroom. Chances are it won't take long to get to know each other, and your partnership will find a comfortable balance. Have fun! Most first-year teachers find the built-in companionship to be a real bonus.
This article was adapted from The New Teacher's Complete Sourcebook: Grades K–4 by Bonnie P. Murray, © 2002, published by Scholastic.
This book is available in the Scholastic Teacher Store.