Katara Simmons/News-Sun Cracker Trail fifth-grade HAART instructor Allisa Ibrahim (right) engages students with some social studies questions in the team teaching classroom Thursday morning. Ibrahim and fellow fifth-grade instructor Ian Belanger have teamed up to teach 43 students in one classroom for the first time at Cracker Trail.
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published: Friday, August 23, 2013
Team teaching takes over classrooms
By SAMANTHA GHOLAR
SEBRING - Things are getting pretty interesting in elementary classrooms throughout Highlands County as the 2013-2014 school year reaches the end of its first week.
A handful of instructors have implemented what is known as a "Team Teaching Model", according to Director of Curriculum and Instruction Brenda Longshore.
"What we have in these classrooms are two teachers working together," Longshore said. "The Team Teaching Model has been used at Woodlawn for the past year by John Spencer and his former intern Jerry Lee Wright in their fifth grade class."
Spencer, who has been an instructor at Woodlawn Elementary School for several years, is thrilled to be using the dual-teaching model for the second year in a row. Spencer and Wright's classroom is now affectionately known as R.E.A.Lville.
"Our opportunity came about a little over a year and a half ago while we were collaborating at different schools on another project and Jerry mentioned the idea of team teaching. Woodlawn Elementary had an opportunity for us to pilot this program in third grade last year. We took 36 students and had an amazing year. We had to work through a lot of kinks throughout the year, but the student's success at the end of the year was phenomenal. We were extremely proud of all of them," Spencer said.
The Team Teaching Model has proven to be a very well received and rewarding program for students, teachers and parents. Many teachers who use the model, both in Highlands County and outside of it, have found that team teaching creates more engaging students who are actively learning.
"There are so many benefits to the program. I would say we believe the number one benefit of this model is the academic time that we gain. For example, while teaching a whole group lesson, there may be one or two students that are struggling with a concept. The teacher that is not teaching the content at that time takes those students struggling and works with them more intensively while the core lesson never stops," Spencer said. "If there is a student behavior that needs to be addressed, one of us can deal with that privately while the other continues the lesson. The academic flow never stops. This is not always the case when you are on your own."
Not only does the time-saving program benefit the students, which is of course the teachers' number one priority, it also serves as beneficial to the instructors as well. Spencer stated that working closely with a teacher every day allows for more brainstorming, more ideas and better problem solving.
"This job is very demanding and there are not always the hours in a day to be able to check in with your team everyday. This model eliminates that feeling completely," Spencer said.
Three other sets of instructors are currently using the Team Teaching Model in Woodlawn classrooms: Stephanie Gose and Darlene Brod teach "Camp Learnalot" in their first-grade classes, "Successville" is the team teaching model instructed by Kendra Fout and Sue Tarter in fourth grade, and Jennifer Reser and Mrs. McHargue also instruct a model class.
Three other schools in Sebring have also implemented the Team Teaching Model in classrooms for the first time this year: Sun 'N Lake Elementary, Fred Wild Elementary and Cracker Trail Elementary.
Cracker Trail's fifth-grade HAART class is taught by Ian Belanger and Allisa Ibrahim. Students were busy Thursday morning using their brains in the dual classroom where 43 students are instructed.
"One side of the classroom is for direct instruction, the other side is used for centers and more one on one instruction," Assistant Principal Jeannie Inagawa said. "It works well because he (Belanger) has been the math and science instructor and she (Ibrahim) is the reading, writing and social studies instructor. Each teacher teaches their specific subject, while the other teacher assists, so they were excited and happy to do this."
Blending the common core standards with the next generation standards is the biggest challenge for these teachers. Instructors want to prepare fifth-graders for middle school but also to get the standards of the curriculum implemented into the classroom.
Team teaching is emerging as the newest trend for elementary classrooms in the area. With three other schools using the Team Teaching Model, it will likely be a year of growth, excellence and enhanced learning in these classrooms.
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