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Teaching Opinion

Co-Planning and Co-Teaching to Focus on My One Thing

By Starr Sackstein — October 02, 2018 3 min read
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The curriculum map is out and I’m sitting knee to knee with one of our new teachers. Together, we are working through the plans for the week and determining how best to engage students and teach the new concepts.

But this class is special. This is a class that I used to teach and helped to design for our new school and having the opportunity to plan, support and co-teach with our new colleague is amazing.

Last week, the teacher caught me up on what has been happening in the class. We reviewed the curriculum map and we made sure to start aligning learning with what we planned. Since the curriculum was very intentionally ordered and aligned with the standards, resources included, we wanted to make sure students were getting the foundation they need to be responsible journalists.

After reviewing and planning, we decided I would come in on a Wednesday and I would help set up the learning and interact with the students.

When Wednesday arrived, it wasn’t the first time I had been to the class, but it was the first time the students were seeing me in a teacher capacity. What fun it was to co-teach and meet the students. Have those cool conversations about what they were learning and engage in deeper questioning to help them connect the new content to areas of their lives.

Students engaged with the new texts and with me and their teacher. As the period neared its end, we realized the kids needed more time to work, so we adjusted accordingly deciding they would come back into class tomorrow, ready to prepare their chart papers and presentations for the expert perspective.

As the time of the class came the next day, I made sure to do a drive by to see the progress of the assignment and perhaps even catch some of the presentations. Students were at varying levels of readiness to present, so I suggested that perhaps they do a preview gallery walk if they were done and pose questions based on what they saw on the chart paper before hearing the presentations.

Having students move around in this way had a few objectives:

  • preview new learning that was coming in the presentations
  • get students moving around if they needed to
  • keep students on task if they finished their own work
  • provide additional time to those who legitimately needed it without feeling like they had to rush
  • help the presenters focus their presentations based on student questions
  • help facilitate potential conversation/discussion since they were partially aware of what was to come.

After checking in with the teacher the next day, I learned that there were still a couple of groups who needed to present. Since the topic was really important, (tenets of journalism, ethics, and law) I suggested that she make sure to have students answer why they felt this information had to come prior to their actual reporting.

When we teach, especially a class like mixed media, it’s so important for students to know their responsibilities and the impact of the choices they make on their reporting.

Being able to work so closely with a new colleague is also really good for me. Leadership wise, it offers an opportunity to support new staff by example and also (selfishly so) an opportunity for me to stay in the classroom, grounded in what matters most, the kids.

I can’t even begin to tell you how awesome it was to learn kids names and to see them throughout the day in other classes and in the hallway and be able to call them by their names and ask how things were going.

Teaching is such a transformative profession and it changes the lives of not just the students, but the teachers as well. I never want to lose that regardless of my position in a school. It was just what the doctor ordered to keep my priorities straight.

My one thing is to make sure that I get into at least one class a week, to model and participate in the learning that I hope and expect throughout our department. Students must be engaged. Teachers must be providing constant feedback and gathering data about what students are learning and adjusting along the way.

How do co-planning and co-teaching help support your team? Please share

*Photo credit to Jennifer Stamatiades

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