How to be a great co-teaching team

Summary:

1.  Familiarize yourself with the texts, required and recommended, for your session. Remember the key questions you raised about your session’s topic on the first day of class? Is there something to pursue there? Discuss between yourselves well in advance of your co-teaching session — in person and online — the most significant issues raised by the texts. You will be the ambassadors, inquisitors, enthusiasts, challengers of what you consider to be the most important of these issues for the rest of the class. Every other student will have read the texts and reflected on them. Your job is to stir up, focus, crystallize, and provoke the class as a whole to engage the most important ideas, issues, ways of thinking,  associated with this theme. We will each have prepared by doing our individual learning. The co-teaching team, together with the instructor, tries to create the conditions where our individual learnings emerge in a conversation that adds up to more learning achieved together than we could have accomplished alone. You do this through no more than one hour of learning activities during your class session and by leading conversations in blogs and forums.

2.  Establish communication with other team members as soon as you can. A face to face meeting is recommended as early in the process as possible.

3.  Discuss and organize strategies and questions for stimulating engaged class discussions of the issues raised by the texts; adopt from others and invent your own activities to increase engagement with key issues by the entire class. Estimate how much time your activities will take and keep in mind that people tend to underestimate by 20% or more.

4.  Work with instructor in the comment thread for your co-teaching team’s wiki page. Use the wiki page to sketch out and finalize your teaching plan, keep track of your missions, communicate with the instructor about your plan.

5.  Meet with the instructor during office hours (1-3 PM Tuesdays or earlier Tuesdays by appointment)  one week before your class session.

6.  Create a skeleton organizing structure for the session lexicon page before class meets, adjust and add to it during class meeting, create two exemplary definitions within 24 hours after class meeting..

7.  During class meeting: Co-teaching team members lead a learning activity (no longer than one hour), select one of the student-submitted questions and lead a brief discussion (approximately 15 minutes).

8.  Give the class their blogging assignment. The blog post can respond to a question, engage in reflection, engage in critique or advocacy — relevant to the week’s theme. By 10 AM the morning after the class meeting, the co-teaching team will start two forum thread discussions.

8.  After class: co-teaching team is responsible for taking the lead in fleshing out the wiki lexicon before next class meeting — defining and adding links for the remaining words is up to the rest of the learning community. Co-teaching team helps keep the forum threads they started lively and productive.

 

Before Class Meeting

Decide among yourselves, and through consultation with the instructor in the online forum, about the one or more most important inquiries, implications, aspects, concerns that the theme’s texts provoke. Keep in mind that the instructor will take care of emphasizing the key points to take away from each text, lecturing when necessary. The job of the co-teaching team is to stimulate collaborative inquiry and engaged discussion among the entire class, not to present a tag-team book report. Don’t feel responsible for conveying all the key points in all of the texts: focus on what you can do with some depth in an hour  — instructor will fill in the rest. The co-teaching team will meet in person and online and frame a general inquiry for the entire class through a brief multimedia presentation (see below), based on something that the team decides is important enough for the entire class to delve into.

Teaching team will meet with the instructor during office hours at least one week before the class they will co-teach. The objective of the meeting is to find creative ways to make the teaching session fun and effective.

During Class Meeting

During class, the teaching team can do any of the following — or anything else they can think up and convince the instructor

Explain and distribute generative questions and/or exercises to  break-out groups who will convene, then report back about their discussions — conclusions, open questions, conflicts, key arguments and insights. Please consider this technique of questioning and adopt some or all of the steps.

Teaching team might find this compendium of teaching strategies helpful (scroll down to “2.2b” and check out the list of exercises). Another useful resource: interactive lectures. Here are some small group techniques. See also these “Thinking Guide Templates” for class activity ideas. This application of game mechanics to business meetings is adaptable to the classroom. Here’s a quick description of “fishbowl dialogue.”   And here is a short blog post by a teacher who has enabled students to teach — and warns about ways it can go wrong. These suggestions about active learning may also be helpful. Keep in mind that co-teaching is about bringing the theme to life for the entire class, not about filling them in on what would be on the final exam if we were to have a final exam. The instructor will briefly present the key points of the week’s texts, so the co-teaching team doesn’t have to try to do that.

About media mindfulness and attention probes during class sessions

A key objective of this course is to develop mindfulness about the way we deploy our attention in a situation with other co-present humans, each of whom has wireless Internet access. When is multitasking appropriate? And when does it detract from the individual or group? We can look at empirical research into these questions. For the time being, we’re going to perform our own research by paying attention to how we use our attention, our laptops, the Internet, during classes.

 

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