Why should you co-teach at York University? A candid snap shot from the trenches.
Marc Husband and Tina Rapke, Faculty of Education
The simple answer is that academic researchers recommend it and have identified co-teaching in higher education as an innovative strategy that enhances instructors’ pedagogical practices, and students’ learning (e.g., Bacharach, Washut Heck & Dahlberg, 2008; Dugan & Letterman, 2008).
Convinced? Maybe before you commit to co-teaching you want to hear about some “unpolished” experiences and perspectives that your colleagues will share in a non-formal setting? If that’s what you’re looking for, please read on because that is what’s on the menu 🙂
We want to point out some the benefits that we have experienced right here on York University campus through co-teaching with each other, to provide you with a candid shot of what co-teaching really did for us. Our secret is, along with a lot of the other benefits described in the literature: co-teaching is fun, helps you stop procrastinating when planning your lessons and a great way to form relationships with colleagues you will treasure!
Co-teaching to stop us from procrastinating
Part of our process of co-teaching together involves co-planning together. It may be the case that before we co-taught together, you might have been able to catch us planning a lesson, alone, last minute, the night before. This becomes very difficult when you are planning to teach with someone else, at the same time, simultaneously in the same class coupling off of each others’ actions. You can often find evidence of our co-planning process in Winters College. Our colleagues often see us somewhere in front of a white board talking about how we can infuse lessons with mathematics education research and doing some mathematics to help us anticipate students’ solutions and discussions. We have found the process overall to be engaging and typically includes some laughter. We admit that we have been called “Tarc”. This truly is a complement, as we assume our name callers were inspired by “Bennifer” (the infamous name for the former Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck duo).
Co-teaching as a collegial support (i.e., “partners in crime”)
It may seem scary at first to have a colleague seeing every single move you make while teaching. We were fearful too at the start, however, the initial experiences of fear have developed into rewarding experiences of having a partner in crime. Let’s be honest, not all things go perfectly in teaching all the time, nor do we expect them to. Some times things unfold in unexpected ways, especially when you’re trying out new teaching and assessment strategies. (We won’t go into too much details here, but if you see us around, stop us and we’ll give you the dirt over coffee). We feel less vulnerable going into murky waters knowing that if the ship sinks, you go down together. Don’t get us wrong, we are very responsible and ground our teaching decisions in the related education literature. But it can be frightening to do things differently than you are used to. We are happy to report that it actually has worked out very well and we have published and are crafting manuscripts for publication about some of pedagogical strategies that we have implemented while co-teaching.
In the end there are lots of reasons to co-teach! You can find many of them in the literature about co-teaching in higher education (e.g., Graziano & Navarrete, 2012; Wilson & Martin, 1998; Wolffensperger & Patkin, 2013). You may think that what we have formed is very special and hard to reproduce. We do agree with this, in some sense, but we also point out that we co-teach separately with other colleagues. For example, Tina has co-taught with another colleague not from the Faculty of Education. In fact, her other co-teaching colleague from York University was the person that came up with the notion of ‘partners in crime’ to describe his experiences of co-teaching with her. This relationship is also one that Tina cherishes deeply. Let us repeat ourselves with some final words: go co-teach, enhance your practice, enjoy yourself and stop procrastinating J.
Bacharach, N., Washut Heck, T., & Dahlberg, K. (2008). Co-teaching in higher
education. Journal of College Teaching & Learning, 5(3), 9-16.
Dugan, K., & Letterman, M. (2008). Student appraisals of collaborative teaching.
College Teaching, 56(1), 11-15.
Graziano, K., & Navarrete, L. (2012) Co-Teaching in a Teacher Education
Classroom: Collaboration, Compromise, and Creativity. Issues in Teacher Education 21(1): 109-126.
Wilson, V., & Martin, K. (1998). Practicing what we preach: Team teaching at the
college level. Report No. SP037818. Muskingum, OH: Muskingum College.
Wolffensperger, Y., & Patkin, D. (2013). Self-assessment of self-assessment in a
process of co-teaching. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education,
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