Teamwork by Wyayn Rasmussen, Head of School
Our students are unique individuals. Because students do not all learn at the same rate, team members with different areas of expertise are invaluable. Team Teaching involves two or more licensed teachers working purposefully, regularly, and cooperatively to help a group of students learn. Teachers together set goals for a course, design a syllabus, prepare individual lesson plans, teach students, and evaluate the results. They share insights, collaborate, challenge one another, and perhaps even challenge students to decide which approach is better.
At AOWL we’ve always had low staff to student ratios. With class sizes no larger than nine, and a licensed teacher and at least one highly qualified education assistant professional in each classroom, our staff to student ratios average 1:4. In the Minnehaha Falls classroom, we’ve gone one step further; we’ve introduced Team Teaching. We are using this model to explore new ways to support our exceptional students.
The team-teaching approach allows for more interaction between teachers and students. Faculty evaluate students on their achievement of the learning goals; students evaluate faculty members on their teaching proficiency. Emphasis is on student and faculty growth, balancing initiative and shared responsibility, specialization and broadening horizons, the clear and interesting presentation of content and student development, democratic participation and common expectations, and cognitive, affective, and behavioral outcomes.
Working as a team, Ms. Rachel and Mr. Paul model respect for differences, interdependence, and conflict-resolution skills. Together they set the course goals and content, select common materials such as texts and films, and develop tests and final examinations for all students. They set the sequence of topics and supplemental materials. Ms. Rachel and Mr. Paul also give their own interpretations of the materials and use their own teaching styles.
Team teaching is not without its disadvantages. Finding time to plan together is probably the most difficult aspect of team teaching. Overall, both Ms. Rachel and Mr. Paul are enjoying the opportunity to team teach. Not all of the students are sold on the idea. As one student lamented recently, “With two teachers in the classroom we have to learn more”. Thankfully, the majority of Minnehaha Falls’ students enjoy the team teaching. When asked if they liked having two teachers, one student summed it up perfectly, “My favorite teacher is Mr. Paul, no, I mean Ms. Rachel, no, I mean I like them both”.