At the very core of Preshil’s philosophy is the importance placed on relationships that teachers develop with children, their families and each other. These relationships give children the confidence to take risks and be active participants in their learning. We want our children to be curious and to ask questions in order to deepen their understanding of the world around them. We want our children to be open, to be resilient and motivated by their own desire for learning, rather than by a reward or fear of a consequence. We want our children to be open to new possibilities and eager to contribute their ideas and opinions.
Preshil deliberately maintains a low student/teacher ratio, which allows for effective team teaching. Team teaching has many pedagogical and academic advantages and has a positive impact on the quality of learning. Having more than one educator in the classroom increases the opportunity for student/teacher interactions; having two educators in the room allows children to be exposed to a high level of collaboration as well as the opportunity for children to observe intellectual debate between adults. Teachers model successful problem solving and different perspectives, which helps children learn the skills of disagreeing without hostility.
This is an ideal way for our children to experience first hand one of the fundamentals of the International Baccalaureate Mission Statement:
‘These programmes encourage students across the world to become active, compassionate and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right.’
Positive interdependence is the heart of team teaching.
Team teaching supports inclusive learning classrooms. All students learn differently; by having children in small, focussed groups in the classroom, teaching can be tailored to how children learn best, allowing truly differentiated teaching and learning.
Team teaching does away with the need to identify children as needing to be ‘withdrawn’ for special classes, the conventional approach to ‘remediation’. With two fully qualified teachers who both know each child in the class very well children can receive individual attention to extend, to strengthen and to reinforce learning as required.
Children encounter new concepts and skills through a variety of perspectives when they have a teachers working together.
The co-teaching relationship brings together two people with diverse expertise and experiences, allowing them to effectively respond to the diverse educational and social needs of children.
A classroom with two teachers actually looks different – because it is!
It is understandable that with one teacher and a large group of children the teacher will need to position themselves at the front of the class; indeed they become the focus of the class and they rely on the set up of the space, rigid ‘structure’ and discipline to help them. With one teacher to 25 children the conventional ‘face the front and pay attention’ is very hard to shift. With such a set-up it stands to reason that every child needs to be doing the same thing and the learning is ‘delivered’ to each child in the same way, at the same pace.
However, with two adults there can be the real shift to collaborative, flexible and child-focussed classrooms, with any number of variations:
- One teacher delivers instruction while the other observes student learning. Usually the observer collects data on student understanding so that the co-teaching team can better plan future instruction. Sometimes, specific students are watched closely so that the teachers can determine new strategies to ensure their individual progress.
- One teacher takes the lead in providing instruction while the other moves around the classroom, assisting struggling students. This help is not limited to students with special needs; the assisting professional is there to serve whomsoever needs support.
- The class can be divided in two groups and the same material is presented simultaneously by both teachers. The teachers plan the two groups deliberately to maximize the success of all students; this is not simply a ‘pull-out’ or intervention group sitting in the same room.
- Both teachers are actively involved in instruction as students are divided into groups and rotate from one ‘station’ to the next. There may be stations where students work independently or with a paraprofessional in addition to the two stations the co-teachers facilitate.
- Both teachers teach the content at the same time in tandem or ‘tag team’ fashion, posing questions, interacting and modelling the way learning process takes place through inquiry.
For many schools with imposed student/teacher ratios team teaching is an impossible luxury. At Preshil this is a fundamental element of the School’s commitment to allocate our resources to what really matters – supporting the different progress of each child.