From Patti Wragg, Adult Education Instructor, Team Teacher ICAPS program, Kishwaukee College
Tell us about the relationship you have with your team teacher. I am working with a new teacher this year in a Manufacturing Math class. The teacher has taught this section as well as the next level up in Manufacturing Math for our college. In the classroom, I take notes that the instructor writes out on the board and prompt questions based on the book that may be instrumental in teaching a subject. Also, I answer questions from students as they work independently. I also support students who are taking this class, as well as finishing their High School Equivalency requirements in a recitation class that takes place after the team taught class. These students may ask questions about homework from this class and work on their GED preparation.
How do you work together on planning?
I look through the syllabus and look ahead in the book to find areas that may be problematic with students. This allows me to prepare some posed questions that may be asked in the classroom. It also helps me to find questions that I may have on a particular skill or subject. I usually talk to the teacher through email to find out if there is anything he needs for class time.
What does the CTE instructor bring to the table?
We are fortunate this year to have a teacher with over 30 years experience in the field of manufacturing, particularly engineering parts and designing parts. He basically uses every type of math that you can imagine and is able to bring real life examples into the classroom. He is allowed to bring old blueprints (blackened out parts) to class to read and do activities that relate to our class topic. It is a great opportunity for our students to be able to see what is necessary for a job in the future and see that the questions are valid in their daily work. He is also able to show how the students can make good decisions and whether a job is worthy of pursuing. He has connections to industry and is able to get field trips to plants around our area. That is a wonderful opportunity for these students.
What does the AE instructor bring to the table?
The Adult Education instructor has the benefit of knowing the students and their learning styles. Not all instructors mesh well with students. So, an Adult Education instructor is able to bring a different way of presenting the same material based on individual needs. Having two people to approach with questions allows more needs to be met for these students. The AE instructor has opportunities to bring up a different way of saying the same thing based on how interpretations are made about a subject. For example, I learned how to add mixed numbers one way; the CTE teach another. So, I brought it up and we were able to collaborate. This gave more understanding to some students. We all want students to be able to get needs met so having another instructor in the classroom has a great benefit.
How has each member enhanced the instruction?
Personal experiences and years of instruction have both impacted the way we teach now. I am sure the CTE instructor has thrown out some of the old techniques of how to go about solving problems and found more efficient ways to do that same thing by his personal experiences in the classroom and the field. The AE instructor has insight as to how students learn and is able to foresee some of the questions and problems that typically happen when solving problems of a certain nature.
How has each member aided the other member and the students in your program?
Sometimes an instructor loses the train of thought, and most likely the other instructor can pick up where he/she left off and help clarify the problem. Also, the AE instructor is not afraid to ask questions about a problem even if the students stay silent. Hopefully, this is a benefit to keeping the students on track. We also can tell if a mistake has been made or an answer doesn’t make sense when solving a problem.
What advice do you have for new teams of teachers?
I recommend that both teachers meet before the class begins. You want to go into a classroom with confidence that the teacher knows who you are. Be open to communication by email, as most CTE instructors work other jobs or are adjunct faculty. Make the most of the fact that field experience is by far a better teacher than just a book. We all learn differently so students may relate better to one instructor over the other. If you are given opportunities to present materials or lessons to the class, make sure you ask the CTE teacher to look over your presentation. You want to cover material in the proper manner. Take criticism as a learning tool. Most adjunct faculty members are so happy to have another person to help, and they are willing to answer any questions that you have on subjects. Team teaching doesn’t always look the same in every classroom. Find what works best for your team. It may be that you are in the background more often than not. That does not mean you are not integral to the team experience.