Chronicles of a Collaborative Team Teacher

New York

In disciplining a disruptive student, making matters worse

New York

Right Theory, Wrong Setup

Ms. T. will be guest-blogging every other week or so here at GothamSchools, sharing her experience of working in a Collaborative Team Teaching classroom. Collaborative Team Teaching (CTT) is when two teachers work in a classroom that is 60% general education students and 40% students with special needs. The more I learn about Collaborative Team Teaching, the more I believe in its potential to succeed with students. Recently, I had the opportunity to visit a school and experience what a CTT classroom should look like and discuss what makes this particular classroom (and school, for that matter) successful. The first, and best, thing I saw was the actual teaching and learning taking place in the classroom environment. A weird thing for a teacher to say… Doesn’t learning and teaching happen in my classroom? It does, kind of, despite the constant battle with five students potentially destroying any chance to teach. Seeing an effective classroom reminded me of what a classroom is supposed to look and feel like as a teacher engages her students in learning. Unfortunately, it made me realize that my crazed mind was starting to think the chaos in my room felt normal. The lack of self-control among a group of my students was starting to cloud all memories of the good life of teaching. During our visit, we saw two teachers who have been a team for multiple years, a team that has gotten about 95% of their students to get level 3's (meeting the standards) on state tests. We saw that a CTT classroom can prove successful when set up and ran correctly. We saw hope… Until we walked out of the classroom and were forced to go back to our own classrooms, to our own schools.
New York

No team planning time for this team teacher

Ms. T. will be guest-blogging every other week or so here at GothamSchools, sharing her experience of working in a Collaborative Team Teaching classroom. Collaborative Team Teaching (CTT) is when two teachers work in a classroom that is 60% general education students and 40% students with special needs. As a part of a team teaching classroom, I must be a team member. I cannot walk into the classroom and successfully teach with another teacher without planning together successfully. It seems obvious, right? Well, maybe not obvious to all. Our students leave us for a short time daily to enjoy what other teachers have to offer in physical education, art, music, and other "cluster" classes. During this time, when our students are away, my team teacher and I keep on working as a team. This time is vital to the success of our Collaborative Team Teaching classroom, and we use it as completely and efficiently as possible. I can rarely be found without Ms. B, and she’s rarely seen without me. Unfortunately, since the third week of school, some have been trying to split us apart and take our team planning time. Because it is a CTT class, there must be two teachers with our students at all times, even during cluster classes. Our school has not accommodated this requirement, and the cluster teachers and UFT representative know this. Their solution: One of the classroom teachers must give up the team planning time and stay with the cluster teacher. Anyone familiar with the rights of NYC teachers would know that our contract gives us a certain amount of planning time that cannot be taken away. Don’t worry, we've been told, you’ll get your planning time.
New York

A year of firsts for teacher new to the city

Ms. T. will be guest-blogging every other week here at GothamSchools, sharing her experience of working in a Collaborative Team Teaching classroom. This is a year of firsts for me: my first year teaching in New York City, my first year in a Collaborative Team Teaching 5th grade classroom, my first year working to meet the New York State standards, my first year with so many major behavior issues in one classroom. I come from the Midwest with one year of 5th grade teaching experience under my belt. My experience with team teaching hasn’t always been the most pleasant and took place under the supervision of college professors during teacher interning semesters. Coming into the CTT classroom, I was a bit nervous to share my class with another teacher, whom I’d met only momentarily before we were hired for the job and with whom I only spent a couple days preparing for the start of the school year. Turns out, Ms. B, my team teaching partner, and I are a perfect match for a CTT room. We share similar theories for teaching and have similar views and feelings on our classroom environment and student learning. We also work especially hard to work together as a team, which means planning together and teaching together, something not as common in other CTT rooms in our school. Our class consists of nine general education students, with a wide variety of academic levels (some as low as our students with IEPs), and ten students with IEPs (some of whom we’re not even sure why they have IEPs, because we’ve yet to receive all their paperwork). Anyone who knows the intended mix of a CTT classroom will see that the ratio is a bit off.