Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Teamwork Balancing Act

Yesterday I met with my new teammate to work on planning the Listening Conferences with parents that will start our school year. This was not our first meeting. After she was hired at our school, she spent two days at the end of the year in my classroom observing and soaking in our culture. We also met one other day after school was out to begin the process of getting to know each other and answer some of her questions. I think we will be a good team and will learn a lot from each other. Right now though, meeting with her brings up many questions for me.

The biggest question is the question of balance in any teamwork setting. Ideally, you learn each other's strengths and learn how to use those strengths to help each other be the best you can be. At the beginning of the relationship, though, things are not always as balanced. The newer team member usually needs more help and support just to get things started. This is where I am with my new teammate. She needs a lot of background information and support about our school and how things work there. I am happy to share what I know with her.

My dilemma comes in trying to figure out how much I should share and how much I should listen. I know that she has some valuable experience to share but at this point she has so much to learn that we spend much of our time with me doing the talking. I need to be aware of how much talking I do and make sure that I let her have a chance to share what has worked well for her in the past. Gradually as we move into the year I know that things will become more balanced. Right now, she is feeling worried about being a "drain" on me and I am worried about being too domineering. I think that it is a good sign that we are both aware of our feelings and have already been able to talk about them with each other. I also like that answering her questions about how and why I do the things I do is making me really think deeply about my teaching practices. I think we are on the way to developing a wonderful relationship.


  1. Working in a school where we team teach for at least part of each day I completely agree with your thought about how this makes one think deeply about teaching practices. It's also a reason I love working with student teachers. And, for that matter, blogging.

    Your ability to talk to each other about your concerns and feelings puts you ahead of most folks I know! I hope things continue to go so well.

  2. Well, isn't my new teammate amazing in her reflections and thoughts about our new relationship as a team for next year? I've already told her that I am beyond blessed to be working along side of her. I am "the one concerned about draining her dry." Yes, I'm the one she is writing about in this blog! The newbie to the school, to classroom teaching, and to Jill! And...I'm a learner, which makes me full of questions and wonderings, and eagerness. That sense of urgency to "be good at this thing" that newbies have.

    How happy my heart is to have someone who is also a learner and reflector, one who is ok with my questioning! For it is important for me to have a partnership in which we can question each other to learn, to clarify, to understand.

    Children always win when two teammates can do this with the trust and understanding that the bottom line is ALWAYS trying to figure out what is best for kids. In this kind of working relationship, there is never the worry of competition or fear of criticism. Each person knows that the other is just trying to "figure things out" and working towards sound teaching that meets kids needs.

    What a joy to know that Jill and I are already on our way to this kind of relationship! I know what this looks like as I have had this kind of teaming before. And low and behold, Jill couldn't be more like my past teammate if she tried! Beautiful gentle spirits with kind hearts, kind words, and brilliant ideas.

    I pray that I can add to Jill's life and joy of teaching this year as she has already touched mine.

  3. Jenny,
    You situation sounds interesting. How do you team teach for part of the day - different subjects, push-in special services, or some other way? I love having someone else in the room with me. It is great to have someone to share ideas with and it is also fun to have someone to make eye contact with when a student says something particularly cute or brilliant.

  4. Mary Beth,

    As you know both of us have been in the role of mentor and "mentee" before. Each time is totally different depending on the personalities involved. I really do think we are off to a great start. Let's resolve to keep it that way. It is going to be a great year.

  5. Jill,
    All of our special education, ESOL, reading and math coaches co-teach for part or most of their day. So, everyone has a co-teacher for at least their reading block but often for even more of the day.

    I love having someone else in the room, for the reasons you mentioned as well as because it pushes me to be a better teacher when someone else is in there.