In a co-teaching classroom environment, it is normal to expect that a teaching colleague would possess characters, traits, beliefs, values, and teaching style that is antithetical from one’s personal and professional perspectives. In a scenario where one is asked to teach with a colleague who has a completely different perspective from mine, the current discourse hereby aims to formulate a description and philosophy about co-teaching which reflects one’s viewpoint at this time.
Description and Philosophy
One strongly believes that individuals have been raised in different familial backgrounds and environments which significantly influence the development of personal and professional values, beliefs, and philosophies in life. Other factors could contribute to the overall embodiment of individual personalities including social factors (relatives and peers), cultural background (traditional beliefs, religious orientations), and other environmental factors. As such, it is expected that in a traditional work setting, including in educational institutions, although employees or educators are expected to share common features, competencies, and qualifications needed in their performance of their responsibilities, could manifest differences in beliefs and perspectives on the manner of undertaking their respective roles and tasks. Just like leaders and managers who exhibit different leadership styles, educators in a teaching environment exemplify diversity in teaching.
The academic institution would only provide basic policies, rules, and regulations that should adhere to standards of teaching; but at the same time, respecting diversity in educators’ values, beliefs and teaching styles. As much as teachers acknowledge that each student is unique with distinct and diverse learning requirements, one is convinced that teachers also should be respected in terms of exuding diversity in their perspectives – as long as the objectives of the teaching module are achieved within the theoretical frame and standards of education.
As such, when one is faced with the challenge of working with a colleague who possesses completely different perspectives from mine, one affirms that there are actually some options to consider as points of reflection. For one, it was previously contended that I would prefer the Team Teaching model which emphasizes sharing of responsibilities for planning and instruction; as well as working collaborately as a team towards introducing new content, working on developing skills, clarifying crucial information, and facilitating learning and classroom management. In this environment, it is presumed that there exists some level of compatibility among educators. As emphasized, “teachers were generally very emphatic about the need for co-teachers to be compatible” . This was corroborated by Friend, Cook, Hurley-Chamberlain, & Shamberger (2010) who viewed co-teaching as a professional marriage “because of the importance, as in strong personal partnerships, of building a strong and parity-based relationship”(p. 11). Thus, the team teaching model was actually stressed to work within the context of “both professionals have similar areas of expertise and priorities, including addressing curriculum competencies, pacing, and classroom management” . Therefore, it could not effectively address co-teachers’ completely exhibiting diverse points of views on various facets of the teaching process.
One therefore strongly believes that if and when, despite trying to reconcile differences in opinions, based on traditional collaboration, negotiation, or traditional conflict resolution strategies (accommodation, problem-solving), the effectiveness of the teaching environment is jeopardized by the diversities in perspectives, there should be options to seek relief through making the necessary changes in assigning co-teachers in this learning environment. Thus, the importance of compatibility still plays a crucial role in the effectiveness and success of co-teaching. This was explicitly affirmed by Friend, Cook, Hurley-Chamberlain, & Shamberger (2010) who averred that teachers’ perceived their roles and relationships within the co-teaching environment to give paramount importance to “the nature of the collaboration, noting the importance of teacher compatibility (and, hence, teacher choice of partner) and the centrality of effective communication” (p. 16). Thus, when all factors have been taken into consideration and all professional efforts have been exerted to maintain a congenial and collaborative learning and co-teaching enviroment but with futile outcome, partners within the co-teaching environment should be given the chance to change partners to address the incompatibility factor.
The imporant factor to consider in according the chance to give teachers a choice for their co-teaching partner is any adverse impact that complete differences in perspectives would accord to the learning environment; specifically in terms of achieving learning objectives and effectively addressing the academic need of the students. If these are hampered, then, co-teachers should be provided with the opportunity to change parters with those who share some points of similarities in values, beliefs, teaching philosophies and professional perspetives.
The current discourse has presented one’s description and philosophy of co-teaching which reflects one’s viewpoint in a situation where one is to teach in an environment where a colleague has a completely different perspective from mine. If students’ learning outcomes are significantly jeopardized by the completely different points of view, definitily, one is convinced that a change in partner is duly justified.
Friend, M., Cook, L., Hurley-Chamberlain, D., & Shamberger, C. (2010). Co-Teaching: An Illustration of the Complexity of Collaboration in Special Education. Journal of Educational and Psychological Consultation, Vol. 20, 9–27.
Scruggs, T., Mastropieri, M., & McDuffie, K. (2007). Co- Teaching in Inclusive Classrooms: A Metasynthesis of Qualitative Research. Exceptional Children, Vol. 73, No. 4, 392-416.