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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Team Teaching

"Hey Mister, this is math class not English, why do I have to spell words correctly? "

All day long, week after week, as semester follows into school year, teachers of all disciplines hear this noise from students who complain when a teacher demands the disciplines of another class be adapted in the current class. This is a problem fostered because our current school system. It is a system that is entrenched in a mode that is centuries old and seems unwilling and unable to be changed or change. Students have been programmed to live in the delusion that what they learn in one class does not transfer to another class. They have been trained that what happens in one hour does not continue into another class. Their schedule says math, not English. Schools are about walls and education is about tearing those walls down.

We know that when we are completing a task in the real world we are tapping into our prior knowledge that includes things we have learned in our different classes. Problem solving for our students also involves knowledge learned in other classes. One of the reasons we put our students in groups is to allow for those who know to help those who don't know. We use students in our classes as tutors. This is exactly why we need more team teaching.

In our schools we have teachers who know technology and use it and those who do not know technology and don't use it. There are degrees of use and knowledge in each group and the divide between the two is widening. This gap is the major reason technology is not being used in our schools. Traditional after school Professional Development doesn't work because we don't have enough of it nor are we using it the next day in our schools. Teachers will learn the technology and will use it when they are immersed into it slowly and gently. I found great success many years ago when teachers visited my class and saw technology used and working. Then I was able to teach them about some tools, help them develop their own webpage, and then most importantly go into their classroom and team teach. It would take one week to get them so comfortable, that I could leave them alone and revisit as needed. Once teachers become comfortable they can then teach another and so on until the entire staff is comfortable and competent. The key was team teaching.

Now if we take this idea and expand it to a regular practice, we will eventually use technology correctly and create more effective schools. We wouldn't need subs since we have now hired those teachers to have a larger staff to create these teams. All that planned merit pay can be used because we won't need it since we will not know which teacher is responsible for our students' success since it is a team effort. Merit pay is a classic form of divide and conquer from the US government. I'm not only stunned with Obama on this topic but very very disappointed. He doesn't get it and doesn't have a clue. This is why the feds should not be involved in education because they can't and shouldn't micro manage education. Education happens in the class and should be done by trained professionals. This is why teachers should be advocating for more team teaching. Safety in numbers and "it takes a village."

“We need to change society’s views of teaching from the factory model of yesterday to the professional model of tomorrow, where teachers are revered as thinkers, leaders and nation-builders,” Mr. Duncan said. “No other profession carries a greater burden for securing our economic future.” Tell us something we don't know Mr Secretary. So why are we still supporting the factory model and not rethinking schools? Quite obviously our secretary doesn't have a clue.

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