Co-teaching has been part of my ‘teaching’ since I actually began teaching. While I did not know much of what I was doing 8 years ago, there I was – sharing my classroom with another teacher. It was a huge learning curve for me, but I felt truly fortunate to have someone by me, guiding me as I navigated the crazy ‘waters’ of a brand new classroom.
Fast-forward 7 years and there I was…co-teaching again but with 2 other teachers this time. Yep…you read that right: 3 of us. So, let me get straight to the point, because if I do not tell you the truth, who will? (insert wink here!)
Truth #1: There will be more compromise that you EVER thought possible.
And that is the plain truth. As teachers we are used to have control and what we say in the classroom goes, but when there are 2 other members in the mix, what one wants does NOT always go. You need to learn to pick you battles and trust me, if you want a successful partnership, you will learn pretty quickly what those battles are. In the end, you will come out feeling like a grown up (at least that is how I feel). You will understand ‘yourself’ better and know what you can live with and without.
I have compared co-teaching to marriage many times. You love and hate each other…but in the end love wins. You will bump into each other (literally), and ask the wrong questions at the wrong time. You may even forget a major responsibility; therefore, letting your team down. You will also have a bad day (or several bad days) and the thought of having to collaborative irritates you to the max. The wonderful thing is that it will pass.
Truth #3: Honesty will SAVE your sanity
Being honest with each other most of the time is not easy. We do not want to hurt other people’s feelings, so we see the need to say ‘it’s ok it does not matter’ when in fact it DOES matter. You will need to be able to say what you feel. However, remember that it is not what you say it, it is HOW you say it.
At school we have been receiving extensive training with Adaptive Schools because there is extensive collaboration at all levels – not only with my team, but across grade levels. Learning to have a discussion without losing ones mind is needed. I feel this has been crucial in our co-teaching success.
Truth #4: You will support each other no matter what.
In case you were thinking that it was all bad and crazy, the truth is that I have been really blessed with a great team and we support each other when times are really tough. When parents are upset, children are going wild, or our personal lives are falling apart – we are there for each other. Effective co-teachers are there for each other at ALL times!
I have learned so much with this co-teaching model, and I am looking forward to what next year brings. I would love to hear if you co-teach? What is your co-teaching model?