Team Teaching=Team Learning

“Wow, why haven’t we been doing this all year?” we both said to each other. We are both Grade 2 teachers, passionate about teaching, and had very little time to plan these experiments. Our team had been planning a series of science experiments for our Grade 2 classes. We had the same schedule and so the logical thing was to try and put both our classes together (16 in each) and team teach each experiment. On top of that, we were given some rather mundane outdated science lessons (although very comprehensive). We decided to spruce them up. The results were amazing.

Not only did it enhance the actual instruction we gave to the kids but the students benefited with working with each other through a series of hands-on experiences on Changes in Matter. We had both our classes sit together on the floor of the science lab while we walked them through essential understandings, big questions and had students make predictions. Students were partnered up with their science buddy.

One of the greatest benefits during the lesson delivery was that we could piggy-back on each others questions and ideas. When you are doing a lesson on your own, you don’t have that think time during instruction. The beauty of having another set of teacher eyes and ears is that you could clarify points that the other teacher made or left out. We would also learn teaching ideas from each other. Simple things that sometimes you forget to use as a teacher but seeing it modeled by a colleague with you quickly reminds you of the benefits.

The other benefit was that we could plan ideas to extend the experiments or reteach areas that students were struggling with. For example, we had an extra experiments set up at the back where students could go if they finished early and make observations on shells and rocks, draw diagrams or combine different mixtures. This idea came out of planning together.

Furthermore, we would always have a wrap up whole class(es) discussion at the end where students could summarize their observations and inferences and we could guide them in their understanding. We added some fun to it and would choose “Top Scientists” who made great observations, helped out, answered questions carefully, etc. We would give them little stickers that they put on their science lab books. Although extrinsic in nature, stickers motivated students throughout the lesson and increased the quality of work. Who says stickers are a bad thing? 🙂

Finally, it helped with classroom logistics. Luckily, we had a lab assistant set up all the experiments beforehand. But during the experiments, problems happen. A students spills water or loses their lab work. Having 2 teaching bodies in there allows one to deal with the issue while the other can move the class along.

So the questions remain, why did it work so successfully between our 2 classes? We both have similar constructivist teaching styles which helps. Another reason is that we have a “yes and..” approach. In other words, if one teacher has an idea, the other says yes and builds upon the idea. Will it work with other classes and teachers? Who knows but would love to hear about other success stories.

We are both so excited about the idea that we are now going to team teach Math the science lab!

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