Like any other sports team that exist today, they are not winning without their good supporting cast and the key people at the sidelines.
In my first weeks of teaching in a public school, I cannot grasp the full experience of having one’s own advisory class, nor handling one’s own advisory class as a floating teacher. In the case of our placement school, the setup was special. I only have two subjects to teach my own, and I share the other remaining subjects with my partner-teacher. Everything revolves around co: co-teach, co-facilitate, co-discipline, co-classroom and never-ending co’s. It wasn’t bad, because it encouraged me to be collaborative and open. However, I cannot fully exercise sovereignty on my students and for most of the time, I was the only one who monitors and observes the kids. Technically, I was on the sideline, but it doesn’t make me any less of a teacher.
Remember why Pat Riley, President of the Miami Heat franchise is one of the greatest coaches and GMs that ever lived? Because when he is at the sidelines, he influences players and management the way the people at the front-court can’t do.
With his efforts, he has built a basketball dynasty that has no signs of slowing down. Now at the sidelines (for the mean time) , it’s my job to influence the kids in my own way, because I am the one with the wider perspective; and there are no signs of slowing down.
Here are my 7 essential nuggets of learning that I realized in CO-teaching that I hope I could share with you:
- COme humbly.
Establishing team-dynamics and building rapport with the folks in school and the community is no easy job, especially with your partner-teacher. Change is necessary, but it won’t happen abruptly. We do have a lot of ideals and principles in life that we fight for. In order to see that, you need a lot of patience and humility, because once you impose these things to them, they would see us as opponents and not game-changers.
2. COmmence the first days of classes establishing yourself as a TEACHER.
The kids would overwhelm you with their: “Kuya! Kuya!” (Brother! Brother!) , because they are not yet familiar with your role inside the classroom. Introduce yourself and be assertive that you are also a point of authority in the class aside from their adviser.
3. COrrelate with partner-teacher’s likes and hobbies.
When my partner-teacher was browsing his phone, I saw his Spiderman wallpaper! So awesome! And that started our conversation about Spiderman and including this one heck of a question:
Always be particular in finding windows of opportunity to initiate small talks and conversation-starters because in that simple way, it shows that you actually want to build relationship with your partner-teacher even outside your job.
4. COordinate, COllaborate and COmplement with teaching strategies and classroom management techniques.
When you have a partner-teacher who has been injected at the public school system longer than you do, sometimes, he/she has odd ways in disciplining and teaching kids. Our goal is not to tell them on their faces and say, “Hey. what you are doing is wrong! Why in the world are you still a teacher?” Rather, you are there to share teaching stuff with each other. By coming into the system with new fundamental knowledge of teaching and managing kids, forge it with their good experiences and existing ways until the bad ones are overlapped. Then, you would be the best 1-2 punch combo ever!
5. COllect students’ information: personal needs, family background, reading level, learning pace and styles.
When you spend your time at the sidelines, do not put it into waste. Use your wider perspective and longer time to pinpoint the students who are lagging every time your partner-teacher checks for understanding of the students. Invest in knowing your students’ backgrounds through small talks, interviews and home-visits. For most of the time when you are at the back observing, you got the upper hand in over-viewing the kids’ behaviors and learning paces. So be proactive in addressing those vital concerns of the students.
6. COllide sometimes. (unintentionally of course)
Now I am not being ironic when I said to collaborate and everything. But seriously, it is inevitable to have conflicts with your partner-teachers or to whoever you work with. If we always agree on everything, there is something wrong. These conflicts and collisions happen because of our individual differences and we need to see to it that we settle everything objectively.
A successful basketball franchise withstands a lot of pressure, management lapses, conflicts and hate spams because they resolve things accordingly as a TEAM. So work it out with your partner-teacher as a team.
7. COmmiserate with your COmpany.
In times of small victories to defeats, your supporting cast are always there. Cherish them with all your heart.
Share them not only your teacher moments, but share them your life.
We play different games and we face different opponents each day, but we should remember we are on the same league! We are not alone. Whether we are at the sidelines or coaching our own team, the important thing is we all have roles to get that championship: winning kids’ lives.