My teacher team is the realest.
When I was in middle school, it never seemed like my teachers worked on teams. The teachers seemed to either work alone or work with with another colleague to do some planning. But for the most part, I didn’t sense that feeling of teamwork amongst my different teachers. My teachers never discussed what was happening in our other classes. It was unexpected if my math teacher mentioned my 99% average in Language Arts. It really didn’t seem of much concern to them, either. For the most part, what you did in one class had no influence in your other classes. You could have acted a fool in Language Arts and count on not reaping any consequences in math class.
That is not what my teaching experience has been like.
When I first started on the eighth grade hall, I was told I would be on a “strong” team. To be honest, I had no idea what that meant. Teams? In education? It just didn’t make sense. On my first day of work, I met my teammates. I later learned that everyone in the building is on a 4-person team that consists of Language Arts, math, science and social studies teachers. We were accountable for the same 112 students and had to ensure that we built policies and procedures to better serve our team demands. I’ll have to admit I was nervous AS HELL. I feared I’d be the weakest link on a team of strong teachers or that my teammates would be annoyed by my constant cries for help. But later on during the year, I realized it was the best thing that could’ve happened to me. Below are the five benefits of working on a teacher team.
5 Benefits of Working on a Teacher Team
1. Support network within reach
The words “lack of a support” serve as a common topic of discussion amongst educators. Being on a team allows teachers to support one another during the most difficult times. Having someone witness my hardships firsthand allowed them to gain a greater understanding of the issues I faced in the classroom. As such, their able to tailor a solution fit for your needs as well as they students they also teach. Essentially, helping out your teammates serves for your benefit as well because the issues he or she deals with may soon become bigger issues you may have to deal with. My first year of teaching would have been even more difficult if I didn’t have three understanding teammates by my side that occasionally brought me food, cookies, coffee and gifts. 🙂
2. Cross-content knowledge
It’s easier to know what students are learning in their other classes when you’re in contact with their other teachers all hours of the day. It also allows teachers the opportunity to come up with projects that require the knowledge and skills of all content matters and also hold student accountable for each of these skills. In my school, several teams developed team projects for their students that required the skills and knowledge of all four core content subjects. For example, in science class students were creating paper roller coasters. Students had to use mathematical equations, apply scientific terms, write a chronological summary of the steps they took and publicly present this information to their peers. Not only were students able to spend class time working on their projects, but they also had the opportunity to receive specific feedback on a specific facet of their project. It enhanced the learning experience and yielded better results.
3. More student accountability in academics
When you have teacher teams, teachers are able to exchange conversation about the academic progress of a student. We also have access to the report cards of our students and can assess the overall progress or lack thereof of our students. As such, it also allows for the teachers to identify opportunities for students to grow. Whether its the inquisitive student with a 94% GPA that needs to be recommended for gifted testing or discouraged low-performing student, the team can now find a solution to address the specific needs of each type of student. During our team meetings, we would discuss the students that needed extra attention and refer them to different services, AS A TEAM. When students see that all team teachers are concerned about their failing social studies grade, it may encourage them to work harder since all teachers are holding them accountable.
4. More student accountability in discipline
During my first year of teacher, I was that teacher that struggled with management, complained about a student’s behavior and was countered with a response like “Wow. He/She doesn’t do that in my class.” Whenever we had these issues, my team would strategize and come up with incentives and consequences for frequent misbehaved students. Whether it was lost locker privileges, silent lunch, a parent phone call, or a parent conference, we always came together as a team to address those students with chronic behavior problems. The math teacher of our team was our team lead and I would often hear him reprimanding his class if he received or noticed any behavioral issues in other classes. The students knew the teachers had each other’s back and that we weren’t going to go against each other’s authority. The students knew that we expected them to respect every adult, especially the team teachers.
5. More effective parent conferences
There is nothing better than having all four content teachers present in a parent conference sharing strengths and weaknesses about a particular student. For the most part, the team teachers agree upon a student’s strength and weakness and able to share this with the parent as one. When one teacher tells the parent that child is lacking effort and seldom participates in class, the parent may or may not address the issue depending on their perception of the severity of the issue. However, when there are four teachers sharing that a child lacks effort, the parent may realize that this is a serious issue and apply appropriate consequences in the household so that this issue no longer impedes the learning of the student. My most effective parent conferences have always been with my teammates. We bounce off each other’s commentary and devise solutions with our parents. Team conferences also help eliminate the skepticism a parent may have about a particular class or teacher.
6. Way more efficient and productive
We’re teachers. We have 1 million things to do. We have paperwork we need to fill out. We have parent phone calls we need to make. The beauty of teacher teams is that you’re able to delegate the work. You can appoint someone as your Communication Liaison or someone can assume the role of Notetaker during all meetings. When you have positions outlined for the team, the effectiveness of the team increases, your team is far more organized and you can focus on doing what you’re supposed to do, which is teach.
Being on a team is the greatest thing that could have happened to me. I LOVED my team last year and I love my team this year.