Team teaching is different than co-teaching. Co-teaching usually means a regular education teacher who teaches along side of a special education teacher. Team teaching is sharing teaching at the same grade level.
Team teaching at the Kindergarten or Preschool level might seem like an overwhelming task. Remembering the time I was told I would be team teaching as the class size was too large for one teacher, panic set in. It is almost innate for teachers to be competitive and independent, proving their teaching aptitude for all to admire. If you have been told you will be team teaching this year, then not to worry. It will be an incredible learning experience for both teachers.
The Benefits of Team Teaching
There are many benefits of team teaching:
- Team teachers share the work load. This is especially useful for Kindergarten and PreKindergarten teachers. Young children are more dependent upon the teacher; therefore, by two teachers sharing the work load, more time can be devoted to teaching independence. In addition, the students will receive more affirmation to succeed.
- Team teachers learn to communicate together and appreciate another’s differences. In a Kindergarten or PreKindergarten classroom this is a useful skill, especially as teachers who pursue to teach these age groups usually have very creative ideas to share.
- Team teachers plan together and hence, grow in their craft, which is an essential skill for a teacher at any grade level.
- Team teachers can specialize in one area. If one teacher prefers to teach math and another reading, then team teachers have the flexibility to decide.
Strategies for Team Teaching
Team teachers must communicate well with one another. This means that they must disagree kindly and learn to compromise, and must not usurp one another’s authority. Mutual respect is the key to success.
Strategies for team teaching in a Kindergarten or PreKindergarten classroom:
Alternate lesson plans each week. For example, one teacher writes the lesson plans for the week and communicates them to the other teacher. Together the teachers prepare the classroom materials. They prep for art and craft projects, gather math manipulatives and books, create posters, and so on. The next week, reverse the roles.
Split the teaching time. The teacher who is planning for the week also has the responsibility of splitting the teaching schedule. So, if the classroom is run on centers, then he or she decides who teaches the center (include classroom teacher assistants). In the teaching plan, break each learning center activity down and assign teachers and assistants to the activity. Communicate the plan. This will require writing step-by-step directions.
Split the class. For whole group activities such as circle time, reading, writing, or math, decide among yourselves who teaches which curricula area. This can be done in several ways, the simplest being, one teacher may always teach math and the other reading, but specializing in this way may also have its disadvantages. Teaching math and reading requires skill that should be practiced. In the other scenario, the teachers rotate groups. In this case, half of the class learns math, and the other half learns reading and then the teacher’s switch groups.
Share assessments. This sounds more difficult than it is. When grade reports are due, both teachers will have had ample time to know each student’s strengths and weaknesses. Split the report cards in half. At the next marking period, switch to the group you did not grade the first period. The key to success with the assessments is discussion. Be sure the other teacher has read and agrees upon the grade and the comment before submission to the administrator.
Recognizing these benefits of team teaching and using these strategies to team teach at the Kindergarten or PreKindergarten grade level is sure to provide for a pleasant school year for both teachers. Keep an open mind and have fun!