Co-teaching. It can be a beautiful, beautiful thing. It can also be incredibly challenging. Think of this: two different people with different philosophies, different backgrounds and experiences, different communication and teaching styles, different places in their lives. There could potentially be a lot of conflict, right? (Right.) However, with a shared vision, giving students what they need to be successful, even the most opposite of people can be united.
As a first year teacher, I myself have the opportunity to co-teach. It has not always been easy, but great learning never happened without challenge. Today, I’d like to share with you an analytical framework (often used in a corporate setting) that you and your co-teacher can use to collaboratively dialogue and discuss an idea, especially if you’ve encountered a conflict in opinions. I like to call it “So you Work with anOther Teacher”, otherwise known as SWOT: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats framework.
*Our amazing principal guided us through this framework, so I’ll be sharing with you how she had us use it, which may be slightly different than how it is used in a business model.
First, think about your objective and the course of action you are considering (or disagreeing about!) taking to achieve that objective. Begin by stating a strength or weakness that is seen with that particular course of action. Now, with that strength or weakness, consider how it could be transformed into an opportunity and how it might be seen as a threat. The idea is to consider all points of view so that you and your co-teacher can make the most informed decision. By implementing a structure such as this, some of the emotion involved in conflict is removed and each side is able to see things more objectively.
Collaboration is hard. And conflict can be messy. But there are invaluable lessons to be learned through co-teaching! Your students will benefit!
What are your strategies for effective co-teaching especially in terms of collaborative decision-making and conflict management?