Advantages and Disadvantages of Team Teaching

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In more and more schools today, teachers are working in teams to create a new way of delivering information to students. Team teaching involves a group of instructors who work together cooperatively and purposefully. In regular meetings, these team teachers set goals for their course, brainstorm ideas, prepare individual lesson plans, design syllabi and evaluate results of implemented ideas.

The approach of teaching as a team allows for a higher level of interaction between teachers and their peers, as well as between teachers and their students. In this method of teaching, evaluation is a constant. Faculty evaluates students based on their achievements and goals; and students evaluate faculty based on their proficiency in teaching material.

The emphasis of team teaching is growth for both students and teachers. There is also emphasis on shared responsibility, specialization, broadening horizons, balancing initiative and on developing clear and interesting content leading to student development. Team teaching aims to lead to more democratic participation and elevated affective, cognitive and behavioral outcomes. It has been proven that team teaching is beneficial throughout all the levels of education, from elementary school through graduate school.

Team teaching seems to hold the main advantage of breaking free from traditional teaching. When freed of the single-course, single-teacher pattern, everyone involved is encouraged to experiment and practice innovation. Through team teaching, students can be split into as many different combinations as necessary for any particular task. Remedial programs and honors sections are given opportunities to develop more appropriate and effective lessons plans for students with special interests or special needs. Team teaching programs can address the different skills and learning styles found in students, instead of assuming that all students will learn in the same manner.

Because students do not all learn in the same manner, or at the same rate, periods of equal length may not be the most appropriate for all learners. In today’s classroom, there is a wide array of students with varying degrees of demands. Through team teaching, students are given more opportunity to be seen as individuals with specific learning styles. They are exposed to teachers from varying backgrounds and specialties; and therefore given a broader base from which to launch their learning. This alone sets both students and teachers up for successful learning environments.

Team teaching does require commitment on the part of the teacher. It is not the answer to all problems faced by schools, teachers and administrators; but it is a step in the right direction. Team teaching requires planning, time management and a willingness to share. There is a risk of failure; but teachers who engage in team teaching seem to blossom into more open-minded, imaginative, creative beings that work well with others and pass along more balanced learning to their students.

If you see the need for change in your classroom or school and are not a part of a teaching team, look into the possibilities in your area. Team teaching can take place over the internet with web chats, or in person with teachers in your own district.

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5 Tips for Student Teachers

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Working in any new environment can be stressful. For the student teacher, you hope to be paired with a welcoming and helpful veteran teacher; but this is not always the case. In this situation, a student teacher may question the amount of authority they possess; and how much participation they can expect. Here are tips for student teacher to become accustomed to a new environment.

1. Plan Ahead

A week or so before you begin a student teaching job, check in with the administration of the school, as well as with the teacher with whom you will be working. Make introductions and ask what, if anything, specific requirements they may wish for.

Once on the job, make sure to always be prepared. If you know you will need copies for a lesson, make them at least as early as the day before the lesson is to be given. It is common practice in many schools to follow exact procedure for copying. Failing to follow these procedures will leave the student teacher stuck without copies. The result is that you look unprepared and unprofessional.

2. Make friends with office staff

Befriending the office staff is always a good idea, even if you do not plan to seek employment at the school where you are student teaching. Many student teachers befriend staff only if they want to work in the school where they student teach, if at all. However, making this a practice is professional and helps the new teacher to get into good habits. The opinions of those who work in administration and support do have an impact on whether or not a new teacher has a chance at a job; but these people can also make the student teacher’s job easier to handle.

3. Remember Confidentiality

Many times student teachers take notes that they turn in for grades. When doing this, it is important to remember to change names or not use names in order to protect privacy. You never know who you may be teaching, and what their possible relationship to those who may review your notes. More than this, it is simply good practice to create habits of confidentiality to honor student’s identities.

4. Dress for Success

Even as a student teacher, you are a teacher and therefore expected to dress in a professional manner. As a student teacher, especially if you look very young, it is appropriate to over-dress. For instance, wear a comfortable suit with sensible shoes instead of slacks or jeans. The way you dress for student teaching sets the tone for your professional image. It gives the coordinating teacher a clue of your professionalism and dedication to your assignment.

It can be tempting to dress to match the teacher with whom you are working. However, this is not recommended, especially if that teacher is lax in their dress. The student teacher is creating an image that will stay with them throughout their career. It is always easier to create good habits from the start than to try and change bad habits later.

5. Be Timely

It should go without saying that timeliness if of the utmost importance to the student teacher. Arriving just as the bell rings is not much better than arriving 5 or 10 minutes late. In particular, when the student teacher is set to teach a lesson, arriving 5 to 10 minutes early is recommended.

Mistakes in Teaching

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Teaching is an interactive process that includes real people with real feelings and real strengths and weaknesses. Since the teacher is the leader of the classroom, it is imperative that he or she know what to do and what not to do. The reason is simple; the teacher has to get through the school year just as the students do. With the right attitude and planning, more can be accomplished and enjoyed.

Mistake #1

The top mistake that teachers make is starting off the year imbalanced. The balance referred to is that of teacher student relationship. This is a fine line that the successful teacher will learn to walk. There are two typical scenarios: either a teacher is completely disengaged from students, or the teacher befriends their students. Either extreme is a mistake.

The teacher should be friendly without implying friendship. Friendship is not necessary for learning. Teaching is not about being liked or being popular with students. A teacher who is friendly but holds firm to specific and clear expectations will be respected and listened to, and that is what is most important.

Mistake #2

Losing control of the classroom is an awful situation for teachers to find themselves in; but it happens in schools all around the world. In order for students to get the most benefit from their school day, the learning environment must be sacred and guarded. This responsibility falls directly and solely onto the teacher. Students will have bouts of misbehavior; but control of the classroom can be maintained by a well-prepared teacher.

First and foremost, a teacher should never yell at students; even to get their attention. Teachers who routinely yell at their students are quickly written off as unreasonable. Instead of allowing frustration to boil over, a teacher will do well to remember that silence is sometimes a more powerful way of dealing with classroom chaos.

Frustrations should also never come out in the way of humiliation or sarcasm. The older students get, the more this behavior is seen in teachers. Teen students can be a challenge, this is certain; but a teacher should remain calm and have specific plans in place to handle discipline issues before the school year gets rolling.

Mistake #3

Every classroom needs rules; but some teachers have a tendency to create rules that are basically unworkable. When rules are seen as unfair, or create problems, they are unworkable. Creating policies for a positive learning environment take time but the payoff is huge. How often are classes disrupted unnecessarily, and how often can this be tracked back to poor planning?

Classroom rules should be clear and concise. Too many rules will overload students and create animosity. A teacher should set aside time before the beginning of the school year to determine the type of learning environment desired for their classroom and create rules based on those desires. For instance, students can be directed to bring required materials to class every day unless otherwise instructed. This rule clearly communicates what is expected. There should also be a consequence for not coming to class prepared.

When making classroom rules, it is important to know your reasons for creating rules. They will be tested, and you will have to state your reasons – sometimes many times.