Administrators have a critical role to play in the setup, support, and celebration of exemplary co-teaching on their campuses. Here’s why:
When teachers collaborate effectively, students are the real winners!
If we are serious about reaching all students, then we need to set up teachers (and co-teachers) for success. As administrators, here are some concrete action items you can employ to increase the chances for co-teaching brilliance on your campus!
1. Become a purposeful matchmaker.
As a college basketball coach, a central challenge I faced was putting the right mix of 5 players on the court, at the same time. Decisions weren’t always about talent or seniority. Chemistry and decision-making were critical factors too. As school leaders, we should use a variety of factors before we pair co-teachers together.
2. Crank that master calendar.
The master calendar, at any school, can be a bear. Competing priorities, current staffing, and enrollment demographics can create some serious challenges. I am suggesting that administrators take extra efforts to make the most promising teacher pairings a reality.
3. Prioritize a shared prep period.
In the world of sports, we would never put players on the field/ court together, who have never practiced together. Our teachers deserve the chance to plan together, assess together, and be together (without students). With strategic scheduling, we can make this happen.
4. Consider campus location in classroom assignments.
Location. Location. Location. If shared planning time is limited for co-teachers, we can at least do our best to put them in the same region of campus. When teachers share physical space, they are more likely to share updates about students and function as a team.
5. Host a meet up.
Leading up to the first day of school, administrators map out time for their staff to include professional development, classroom prep, and team building activities. Co-teacher pairings should not come as a surprise on the first day of school. Instead, administrators should roll out the pairings, with some rationale, and even more relational runway. Prospective co-teachers should have the chance to get to know one another, on both personal and professional levels. This might take some prompting from administrators through orchestrated activities. Whatever efforts are taken, the benefit will be apparent. Co-teachers, like parents, work most effectively when they: 1) know one another well 2) take advantage of one another’s strengths and 3) share mutual respect for one another.
6. Check-IN and resource-UP.
Many co-teacher pairings will thrive without much support. We work with passionate and skillful teachers who want the best for kids. But administrators can also expect some challenges to collaboration. As leaders, it is our job to keep a pulse on these partnerships. We should be prepared to help teachers work through conflict and toward better collaboration. And we should always be asking, “What do you need to maximize learning for your students?”
Administrative actions make a marked difference for teachers who are asked to co-teach. What are “moves” you made this school year to benefit students and support teachers?
Image by Campaign Bootcamp via Flickr.