The more I think about it, the more it makes sense. Have two teachers for one class of students. And I'm not talking about one teacher (or educational assistant) who deals with those two "difficult" students in the corner, while the other teaches, I'm talking about having two teachers. Hear me out.
ORIGIN OF THE IDEA
I've been tweeting hours worked for the last month or so. I plan to have a roundup post on that at some point, but one thing I'm starting to realize is that the job is potentially doable in a regular 8 hour day. Assuming you don't do any marking, or extra curricular activities. (Effectively filing off the worst and best aspects of the job.) If you must do those things, well, sacrifice sleep.
Today in particular, as I marked, I wished I had a day just to do only marking. (Which is what the weekend is for. Yet I blog. Yeah, I'm stupid like that.) I also listened to the latest "Infinite Tangents" podcast, where there was mention of "laying out a class" based on overall curriculum expectations - hopefully collaboratively. Thus with help. Okay, so what if I had a FEW days to mark student work, because we'd arranged that someone ELSE was currently teaching the next unit? I'm not saying I'm hiding out, I'm still helping the classroom during the day, but when I'm not there I'm MARKING rather than PREPPING.
This means I can focus more on the problems with the last unit, even having time to make changes so it's better for next time, rather than trying to figure out what I have to be teaching tomorrow. Our next unit, the two teachers switch it up, so that it's not one person tasked with all the marking all the time. Notice I also flagged this post as "teaching" not "math", because I think it's workable in other subject areas too.
I hear your objections. But bear with me as I work through this.
Advantages to Two Teachers Per Class:
1) Teachers don't get to observe enough teaching. Boom. Fixed.
2) We emphasize group work, yet we teach in solitary. Why?
3) It's a chance to share (equitably) what always feels like an impossible workload.
4) A second set of eyes in the class can more easily pick up on problems students are having. Also allows for constructive feedback to colleagues.
5) Pretty sure this would reduce teacher burnout and increase retention rates.
6) This might even allow for better flipped classrooms, as it generates time for teachers to create flipped content. Or just any content.
7) Creates jobs, which is good for the politicians and prospective teachers out there. Alternatively, may mean the bureaucracy can increase class sizes, but as long as they're not doubling, we'd be looking at less than what we have now.
Disadvantages to Two Teachers Per Class:
1) Seems to require units. I'll deal with that below.
2) Personality conflicts. Two teachers with different styles may not mesh well, or issues may erupt if students seem to "prefer" one teacher to the other.
3) Continuity. Students may have difficulty handling a different teacher for different topics, and teachers may have difficulty picking up where someone else left off.
4) Coordination. Two teachers now have to assign one mark per student.
|IT'S ALL ABOUT PROS AND CONS|
It doesn't require units. It might make more sense to have units, where Teacher A takes 1, 3 and 5 while Teacher B instructs 2, 4 and 6, but not necessarily. Picture a classroom where all the topics are laid out within the first two weeks. Teacher A can then do an activity on trig (perhaps even based on current events), have an evaluation of some sort at the end, and while they're correcting that, Teacher B does a few lectures about solving equations. Then Teacher A is on again, and they could do something on quadratics - or, y'know, even FOLLOW UP on their activity from two weeks ago. (Seeing it again before the final exam? Madness!)
I can't immediately see why this can't apply to other subjects too. Teacher A instructs on World War I, Teacher B on World War II. Teacher A does chemistry, Teacher B jumps in with some physics. Teacher A does the poetry unit, Teacher B gets ye olde Shakespeare. Teacher A does perspective drawing then Teacher B moves into watercolours. I suppose you could argue we may get too specialized, but is that a bad thing?
Personality conflicts is a bit harder to reconcile. This whole idea would need to be a collaborative exercise, not a competition, yet there's always people out there who have a personality type that leans to the latter, or who might take things too personally. (I may even be one of them.) Students would not help matters, tending to be judgmental, or simply wanting to see what happens when you pit two teachers against each other.
But on the other hand, there are some really good teachers in my department doing some great things with group work and... that isn't me.
I'm an introvert, who is bad at judging personalities and gathering anecdotal evidence. So I don't do a lot of it. But if I was paired with someone who WAS good at it, not only would the students benefit, I might get BETTER at it. Meanwhile, that teacher... would get to see me sing about Trigonometry. Um. So they might feel they're getting a raw deal, but they could be paired with someone else next semester. My point is, play to individual strengths and evolve as a teacher, rather than get stuck in a rut.
As far as continuity goes, most times students get different teachers from year to year anyway, so it shouldn't be all that confusing. And as to continuity with teachers - again, it's not that you vanish for a week, you're IN THE CLASS, observing what is being taught, it's just you can deal with marking and self improvement rather than all the prep work. Because of that, I can't think there would be huge disputes about mark assignment either.
Heck, in terms of implementation, this could even translate to just having a couple "floating" guys in the department. They teach collaboratively with Teacher A for one term, then Teacher B during the next term. You know, kind of like student teaching, except with pay. So this might be particularly beneficial to young teachers, as they build confidence and find their place.
The major disadvantage, of course, is that this has to be sold to the public. I say "public" not "politicians", for two reasons:
1) Despite the politician's apparent penchant for doing whatever, then selling it as "the right thing", surely there are some times they have to bend to the will of the public. Like, election years.
2) The public thinks teachers "have it easy", hahahaha, kill me now. They're the ones to convince of the benefits of such a system, and why more money would be needed for education to implement it. (Maybe if we take some of that tech money, eh? Then again, my ten year old computer says new tech would be helpful.)
Well, I'm not a salesman. Nor am I sure how I'd advocate for this. (Nor am I even positive it's a good idea.) That said, is this NOT what they do at the post-secondary level?? Hiring teaching assistants to mark papers and answer questions, so that professors can focus on research? My system improves on that, as I'm not passing the drudge work on to someone else, but making it more equitable, distributing the workload fairly between two professionals. Doesn't this make sense?
I feel like it makes sense. In the comments, someone please tell me why we're not doing this.