Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Day 10 of #28daysofwriting - Team teaching - collaboration & conflict

Naku te rourou nau te rourou ka ora ai te iwi*
With your basket and my basket the people will live

Team teaching can be daunting, going from being the captain of your own ship to having to working with 1 or more people isn't everyone's ideal scenario. 
I knew when applying for my position at HPPS that this would be another huge challenge, I enjoyed the discretion and independence that came with my own classroom. I'd been able to be innovative and take risks with classroom experiences that I may not have felt confident enough or experienced enough to take otherwise. Several teachers from my training course had gone into team teaching environments immediately, my initial feeling was this wouldn't have been my preferred course of action, however a job's a job and what beginning teacher would cut off their nose to spite their face. I'd heard over time about the issues my two friends had so it was intriguing to read Matt Ive's blog post on team teaching as a BT and the safe, supportive environment he'd found it. I wish I'd read this 2-3 months ago as it may have allayed some nerves I was having about my move.
My reality is that I am teaching with an innovative, supportive and knowledgeable colleague who challenges me where I need to be. We started the planning for our year by spending much time together discussing our vision for LC4 and it was over this time that we forged the bond we would need to work as a team. I was coming from a quite different classroom setting, where as Amy was a foundation teacher at HPPS. 
Yesterday, we began our walkthrough process where the onus was on Amy and I to discuss our collaborative efforts on what we had achieved for our planning, processes and learners as well as how we had dealt with any conflict that had arisen. We aren't the only new teaching team this year, all four learning commons have new teams in them. 
Because we are working together for the first time it would be easy for Amy to say this is the HPPS way, but this hasn't been the case. Often we have had to go back over things several times for me to find the clarity that I have needed. Another approach has been to refer back to some of the core documents such as our Learner Profile, Curriculum Mapping and our Dispositons. Alternatively, much can be achieved by simply talking things through and referring back to readings, the learners or scenarios that we have in mind. Both of us have had input and as I find my feet I've felt more confident with suggesting approaches and experiences that are adding value to the learner common.
Have we had conflict? Nothing serious that can't be solved, we occasionally have different approaches but that is the nature of team teaching. In one instance where we weren't able to reach a suitable conclusion to a learning issue, while I had eventually be convinced of the merits of finding an alternative pathway we hadn't been able to find a the right pathway to fit our needs. So we sought dialogue with other teachers in the school. We possibly talked this issue to death but resolved that the best thing was to park the issue and pursue it at a further date. While no one likes sweeping things under the carpet, this was definitely the most efficient solution as if we'd pursued this further we most likely wouldn't have achieved as much before the students arrived.
We have several ideals that are top of mind in our discussions, clearly the learners' needs and the core documents at HPPS but also the concepts of productivity and accountability, both for our learners and us as their advisors. With these in mind, I believe that I too will have same great experience of team teaching that Matt Ives writes of. 
By ourselves we bring a lot to this common.
Together, we bring more.

*sourced from


  1. Thanks for sharing this. It is good food for thought in regards to sharing a teaching space and students and collaboration in action.

  2. So great to be able to follow your journey, Reid. Very exciting. I don't know Amy at all but I have followed her on twitter for ages and know that you guys will be an amazing team.
    I feel so grateful to work with my teaching partner Liz Fairhall. While we don't co-teacher (its actually a job share) I feel really lucky to learn so much from her about Makered and Coding etc. Having two teachers is just awesome for the learners too- two advocates with different strengths and passions. So great!

  3. I know nothing about the education system in New Zealand. Are you in a small school that you are working with students in 3 different years or do you mix years at primary? How many students are there? Do they work well being of such different ages. My theory is that they would but I was wondering if my theory is correct. Interesting blog. Thank you.

    1. Thanks for the comment. Our school is very new and has been operating for under two years. Currently we have 4 learning commons where there is 3 year levels, although there is some overlap between commons. This will change over time as the roll increases.