Friday, September 14, 2012

Benefits of Collaborative Teaching #1 - Built In Coaching

So, yesterday Kristie and I had a wonderful plan of using the two of us to model for the first graders how Making Words lessons work. Making Words is a component of our Word Work block that we are adding for the children next week. We wanted to take advantage of the fact that there are two of us to show the students exactly what the teacher and the student will do during the lesson. It was a beautiful plan ... until I botched it. Now, you have to know that I was teaching third grade before I moved down to first and I, by nature, tend to keep my teaching discourse at a high level no matter what grade I'm teaching; it's something I have to work on so that all of my students can access my instruction equally. I was acting as the teacher in our scenario and I did not keep my phrasing explicit enough to be appropriate for first grade. So, yeah ... there it is ... I botched it.

Now Kristie, being the kind and understanding teaching partner that she is, sat down across from me at recess and said in her most diplomatic voice: "So, can we talk about our Making Words lesson?". And I, after stifling down my initial instinctual feeling of defensiveness, replied, "Of course." Long story short, we talked it out and she outlined for me more explicitly what would have been more appropriate for a first grade Making Words lesson. And she was right.

Today we had modeling the Making Words process in our plans again so I was given another chance to practice my delivery. This time, I followed her directions and the lesson went much better. At recess today, I said: "So Coach Kristie, let's talk about our Making Words lesson. How did I do? Give me 2 stars and a wish." While I was being a bit facetious, the inherent benefits of what happened in this simple exchange over two days were not lost on me. Not only did I benefit from the embedded professional development that comes from having another teacher in the classroom, I was also able to adjust my curriculum delivery almost immediately to better fit the needs of my first graders. Would I have been able to calibrate my instructional delivery to fit my first graders needs on my own? Sure. But how long might it have taken me before I figured out a formula of delivery that was appropriate? How many frustrated lessons might we all have lived through before I got it right? Of course, we'll never know, but the benefit of having someone there, someone who has taught the grade before and knows the appropriate jumping off point, was invaluable for me this week and I know my students will directly benefit from it as well. So, thank you Kristie! Thanks for being a great teaching partner and a supportive coach!


From the limb,

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