Advantages of team teaching
Working with a co-teacher who becomes a valuable assistant
Have you ever done team teaching with a Thai teacher? How did you find it? Was it beneficial to your students? Would you recommend it for Thai schools?
In my 8 years of teaching in Thailand, I had never done any team teaching with a Thai English teacher - not until last term. As a foreign teacher in a government school, I had my regular loads ranging from 18- 21 periods a week. With these loads, teaching was both heaven and hell, depending on the classes I was assigned.
When I had inattentive, noisy, not so responsive and not so diligent students, I called it hell. When I had quiet, enthusiastic, cooperative and active students, I called it heaven. But heaven or hell, life must go on for me so in every situation I had to devise ways and means to turn hell into heaven. Fortunately this term, I am in heaven because my students belong to the second group.
More so, last term, I had team teaching with an English Thai teacher 5 periods a week. It was a blessing in disguise because the Thai English teacher, who was also a computer teacher, had to render certain required number of hours.
Normally, the Thai teacher would teach English alone using prescribed textbooks with accompanying workbooks which she tackled page by page, unit by unit. Last time she had to do it with my assistance.
When I taught with my partner, the Thai teacher would translate everything I would say. When I modeled all the oral activities, the Thai teacher would explain. But the flow of the lesson was in the hands of the Thai teacher. My major role was to teach songs because the songs in the textbooks were patterned from common and popular nursery rhymes.
At times, I did chants and had to add spice to the Thai teacher's activities through songs and games to make them more meaningful and more enjoyable.
I found team teaching useful. I even thought this should have been done many years ago so that students could read and write in English for teaching English using textbooks suited to students' level surely develops the four language skills especially in Grade I where they learn to read because the textbooks and workbooks have many reading, writing, listening and speaking activities.
I really enjoyed my team teaching. One time the Thai teacher told me that she learned a lot of activities from me which she never encountered before. Likewise, I learned from the Thai teacher on how she handled classes, started lessons, presented activities, and evaluated students.
We had continuity in our lessons because in case one of us had a meeting, one of us could teach our classes. Suffice to say, better lessons were handled because when I presented something, the Thai teacher enriched it and vice versa. Oh, it was less burdensome too on my part because the Thai teacher planned the lessons and I just supplemented them.
With team teaching, checking student's workbooks or textbooks were facilitated. Checking was faster because there were two of us doing the work. Mind you, it was really less strenuous on my part because the students were behaved in the presence of the Thai teacher. I miss team teaching because my partner moved to another school.
At least for a term I experienced a "meaningful" teaching with my Thai partner. Of course, when I teach alone I do enjoy it. But I enjoyed it more when I was with my Thai partner. Because of team teaching I became closer to my Thai teacher so whenever I had troubles in school, she would always be there to the rescue.
If I have the chance to work with another Thai teacher with this kind of arrangement, I will not hesitate to accept it. It will lessen my burden of work, I can learn from my partner, I can share my knowledge and experiences to my partner, and the students will benefit a lot in the end.
Why not give team teaching a try?
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Working alongside Thai teachers is an acquired skill. All the teachers are different and will bring different levels of ability , enthusiasm and involvement into the classroom. If you can quickly gauge your colleagues and work to their levels, then life can be 'heaven.'
By Mark Newman, Thailand (9th December 2014)