Some countries and schools rely on team teaching to make their ESL classes more effective. Team teaching is where two instructors work together to teach lessons. This arrangement usually, but not always, pairs a native English speaker with a non-native English speaker who speaks the local language.
In Japan, Assistant Language Teachers are the native speakers placed in schools to work with Japanese English teachers. In this case the primary goal of team teaching is to improve student pronunciation by having a native speaker available to model words and phrases for them. In other countries large class sizes are the reason behind team teaching as this allows students to have more one on one time with an instructor. Working as part of a team can be a challenge so here are some things to think about when team teaching.
Team Teaching Do's and Dont's
For a successful team teaching relationship, it is important to communicate with one another. Talking about lesson plans, sharing ideas, and editing exams together outside the classroom will help you develop a good working relationship. Meeting on a daily or weekly basis and knowing who is responsible for what during the lesson can increase the quality of your classes and your overall confidence as a teacher. You will be able to learn from one another and increase your understanding of each other’s experience and teaching methods. This will help you work together better in the classroom too because you will have the same goals, expectations, and plans. In class it is important to be flexible and adapt when your partner decides to make changes to the lesson plan you discussed. This can happen for a number of reasons but the most common one is that students are having difficulty with the material and continuing along the same course will only confuse them further. If you are not the one leading the class, it is important to follow the path the other teacher decides to take and be prepared to step in with a new activity if necessary. More than anything else, team teachers need to cooperate to ensure that students have the best classes possible.
Team teaching will not be successful when there is no team. If teachers do not actually work together, they will not lead classes effectively and the materials each person prepared may not complement one another. There is nothing worse than learning on the way to the classroom that your partner, without telling you, expected you to prepare the lesson that day. Students cannot learn in a setting this disorganized no matter how well you manage to salvage the class time with some brilliant, last-minute plan. Some other things to keep in mind are not to interrupt when the other teacher is speaking and not to undermine each other’s authority. The two go hand in hand; making the other teacher look bad will not improve your situation. Students will lose respect for both of you and that is not a good classroom situation.
If you are a teaching assistant who is expected to team teach, start off by asking what the teacher you are assisting expects of you. Once you have mastered those things, try to encourage more collaboration and make suggestions about lesson plans and activities. Some teachers will be more open to your ideas than others so proceed with caution and be respectful of their role as the primary instructor especially around students. If you feel that you are only being included in one aspect of teaching, volunteer to perform other tasks such as grading and planning activities. A teacher who has never had an assistant before may not realize the amount of work you are willing and able to do and might welcome your assistance in these areas.
Team teaching can be very effective. Everyone works in different ways so the best thing you can do is contribute your skills and ask the same of your partner.
Collaborating can reduce the amount of work you need to do individually and lead to better lessons while acting separately will not benefit anyone least of all your students.