Professional Development Opinion

Make Co-Teaching a Part of Your Weekly Leadership Routine

By Starr Sackstein — January 21, 2018 3 min read

Since we all have oodles of time in our days, why not add something else to the mix?

Now although this may sound a little snarky, I’m serious.

Today I had another amazing opportunity to push into a classroom and help co-teach a lesson on reflection. The teacher’s enthusiasm for having me there was exciting enough, but when one of her students thanked me for coming in afterward, my heart seriously melted.

Just because we decide to leave the classroom to take on a different role, doesn’t mean we can’t make opportunities to be in classrooms in capacities beyond observations and evaluations. As a matter of fact, I’d venture to say that these experiences build relationships, demonstrate commitment, and build credibility with the team.

As a teacher, I had many administrators say they would come in to demonstrate new strategies or suggestions and then never follow up or actually show up to do so. In fact, some of them didn’t even come to watch me do it to provide necessary feedback for my improvement. Of course, their lack of time forced me to do what they weren’t doing for me for myself.

These experiences left a mark on me as an educator and I promised myself that I’d be different, and I’m living up to that vow.

Since I started in my new position, I have had the honor of participating in planning a project with several different departments, ironically in content areas that aren’t the ones I’m a licensed teacher in (high school and middle school social studies and middle school Spanish), and actually pushing into classes to roll them out. Additionally, teachers have invited me in to see the wonderful celebrations of learning happening in their spaces.

To me, this time in the classroom is more important than anything else I do. Interacting with my team and their students, getting to know the environment and seeing their willingness to take risks and build on their own professionalism and practice goes a long way. Trying new things may not always go smoothly, but I want them to know they have a partner in me; I’m invested in their success because it matters to our students.

In today’s lesson, we went over what it means to reflect and why we reflect. We talked about how it should look and they reviewed student samples to help them try it out for the first time at the end of their first-choice project. Students reviewed different reflections of former students of varying levels and were asked to identify elements of the reflection, notice anything that was missing, and to provide feedback to the student as a group to improve the reflection. Students then shared out what they learned.

Since we ran out of time, we decided to get some feedback from the students by asking a reflection question on their Google Classroom to ensure everyone understood how and why we reflect. The cooperating teacher has already invited me to her classes’ various online classrooms, and I get to read their thoughts about the experience once they post.

Next steps include debriefing with the teacher a little more after we receive the student feedback and determine whether another lesson is necessary to ensure full understanding of the process.

We also discussed rolling out the standards to the students and having them rewrite them for a single point rubric that would be used for the rest of the year. Students would also then discern which standards are being addressed with each learning experience being assessed.

Overall, it was a very positive experience and I’m hoping that the more classrooms I get into in this way, the more teachers will invite me to try it out. I really would like to make it an every week occurrence, even if only in one class on Fridays. So you know what that means, survey time! I’ll let you know how it goes.

When was the last time you got into a classroom to help a teacher try out a new strategy? How did it go? If you haven’t gone, what is stopping you? Please share.

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