Co-teaching

I’m a horrible co-teacher. Always have been. In all my years of teaching, it’s by far my greatest weakness. I suck at this important aspect of my practice for a lot of reasons, but I think it’s mainly because I’m a stubborn (and, if I’m honest, self-centered). Co-teaching, when done well, involves compromise. My problem is that I am really particular about certain aspects of the class, especially when it comes to fostering community and building relationships with students. I’m too picky and take far too much ownership over how the class functions.

One of the major consequences of my inability to co-teach is how my students often perceive me, the content teacher, as being the “primary” teacher of the class and the special education teacher as being secondary. This is maddening! I hate it. In my students’ eyes, there is almost always a hierarchy of adults in the class. This is evidenced by things like who they email about their grade and who they ask their content-based questions to. It got to the point where last year my co-teacher even got referred to as an “assistant.” It didn’t happen in our class, but still.

I find this deeply problematic. It yields status and social capital to one teacher over the other. While I make a fuss about it, I have no else to blame by myself. I’m complicit in maintaining this social order that is endorsed by students. If I put in more work into building synergy with my co-teacher while ensuring that that synergy is made visible to students, then maybe it would translate into how they view us as teachers and the equal footing we occupy.


bp

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