Written by Jackie Bakker, FCS & Specialist Teacher
"Are you interested in co-teaching a unit?" I still remember the moment when one of the connectors in the TLC program asked me this question. My initial reaction was "I don't have the time....this is going to be a great deal of work...someone is going to watch me teach multiple days in a row." Of course, these are the things I only thought to myself. I replied with a "Sure, I will try it."
I decided to pick a unit that I had not previously taught so that if I was going to be putting in "hours" meeting, planning, assessing, collaborating, and reflecting with someone then I would end up with a great unit. Where had I planned to start....with the idea of creating a great PowerPoint presentation. (Ugh....)
The journey over the next few weeks proved to be the most valuable experience I have had during my fourteen years of teaching. While co-teaching, I realized more about student learning, using data to drive instruction, and growing as a professional than I have ever before. It was not about building a great unit and a great PPT presentation! It was not a time sucking experience! In fact, I spent a little less than an hour during the school day planning a three week unit. I was saving so much of my time! Not only that, but both my students and I had someone to brainstorm, problem-solve, and reflect with right during class. Relationships formed that were more precious than time!
The person whom I co-taught with also suggested that we create a pre-assessment to gauge what students knew about pre-construction skills before we got started with our projects. The same assessment was also used as the post-assessment. We compared the two assessments regarding student growth and found 83% of students were in the proficient or almost there category whereas only 28% started in the almost there category and 0% were proficient. Excellent academic growth! I was able to reflect on changes for next year right away (and with student input) by seeing where some gaps still existed. Amazing that this experienced saved me time! But, most amazing is the growth of myself and the students during this experience!