At my school, I co-teach two of my four classes with two different learning specialists. For half of this year, I also worked with a great apprentice teacher. While co-teaching requires extra time for communication, the experience has been richly rewarding for my students and for me. There are many known benefits to an effective co-teaching model--but I think I just discovered a new one!
Co-teaching is helping me write my book! I'm working on the manuscript for a book about Whole Novels, a method for facilitating whole class novel studies with middle school students that I've been developing since I first learned about the idea at Bank Street College. You can read more about it here and here.
The challenge in writing down the what, how and why of my entire literature program is not to be underestimated. And even though this writing is about teaching practice, rather than something seemingly more personal, writing this book brings up my inner demons all the same. In the words of TLN colleague Cossondra George in response to a Facebook status update I posted about the struggle to write, "Writing releases your inner demons while at the same time, antagonizing them :) "
My co-teaching experiences have been a huge advantage in my writing process. Through co-teaching, I have shared my teaching practices with several amazing educators and built them further together. I've had to articulate both my big picture goals with this program, as well as day to day details and decisions. I've received valuable feedback on these methods and ideas, and my co-teachers have added their thoughts, inventions, knowledge and sensibilities to the program. I know Whole Novels as a method is stronger because they've been a part of it. And now I realize that writing, too, is stronger, because I've already put so much of this into words before, vetting and co-creating the ideas with such an insightful, group of teachers.
At first I was nervous to share so much of my teaching with another teacher and then another and another, but I quickly got over it. I don't miss teaching in isolation. The benefits are just too numerous to go back to that.
What about the rest of you? Am I just super lucky or does co-teaching really work?
[image credit: found it on sdtelecom.blogspot.com, but this is M.C. Escher, "Drawing Hands," 1948.]