3 Take Away Lessons from the Taylors Hill-Greythorn Primary skype team teaching session
I recently connected with Taylors Hill PE teacher Christina Polatajko in order to conduct a team-teaching lesson on cricket. Having not met before, Christina asked the question on twitter:
Never wanting to let an opportunity slip by, I got in touch and we used Voxer voice messaging to put together a plan. We began by finding a shared time that would fit into both of our timetables then by finding a shared learning intention that would compliment our Phys Ed curriculum planners. We came up with a Monday timeslot where Taylors Hill Year 3 students were beginning a unit on cricket and where Greythorn Year 4 students were finishing their unit on cricket.
I think the key to arranging a Skype team-teaching lesson is to be flexible in your choice of class. Christina and I could have quite easily hit a dead end when we realised that we didn’t have our Year 3 classes at the same time. Or we may have given up when we found out that my cricket unit was about to end, when hers was just beginning. Even if we were not teaching the same sport, it is worth noting that a shared learning intention could be taught in many different forms. For example, a class learning Softball and a class learning European Handball, could combine to develop their throwing skills.
With so many variables, my first take-away lesson for setting up a skype team-teach is to be flexible in your curriculum.
TAKE-AWAY NUMBER 1: BE FLEXIBLE
The next step was to prepare for our lesson. After throwing around a few ideas, it was decided that we wanted to take a student-centred approach and have the Taylors Hill students teach a new warm-up game to the Greythorn students, then have the Greythorn students teach Taylors Hill students how to bowl. To put these skills into practice, both classes finished with a bowling game where they could compare their scores with each other. We then set about putting together a lesson plan so that the curriculum and learning intentions were very clear. Students from both schools took home a permission form for participating in the program so that parents could clearly understand the purpose and importance of the lesson. This included stipulations about photos being taken but no faces or names being published.
In all, the lesson ran very smoothly. There was the expected technology hiccup where the image wasn’t showing for a while but that only took a minute before it was set right again. More than anything I put this smooth-running completely down to preparation. Time spent conferring with school leadership, obtaining parental permission, testing technology and planning the lesson all meant time saved in the long run.
TAKE-AWAY NUMBER 2: BE PREPARED
I went into this lesson quite prepared for it to fail.Not fail in the negative sense, but fail in the sense of building a foundation of experience on which to build. There is a feeling that this type of teaching will be beneficial, if not essential in the future. However, in getting to that point it is inevitable that the “how” and the “why” will evolve along the way. We need to be scientific in our discovery of the these. We need to hypothesize how the technology might be used. We need to develop theories in the form of professional conversations. We need to test these theories by putting them into practise and reflecting on their effectiveness.
TAKE-AWAY NUMBER 3: BE EXPERIMENTAL
So, those are my 3 take-away lessons from the experience. But what did the students learn?
As well as the explicit learning intention, students developed a broadened worldview, understanding that facilities, people and teachers can be quite different but learning is still the same. There was certainly a connection and mutual respect between the 2 sets of students.
They understood that they can be both teachers and learners when skills are passed on from one set of peers to another.