Team teaching and the multiplier effect
To provide Elementary School students with the best possible classroom experience, International School Bangkok (ISB) has supplemented its regular educational program with innovative learning environments called Team Teaching Rooms.
These specially designed classrooms have been an integral part of ISB’s educational approach for several years, and have been central to our Pre-Kindergarten program for a full decade. With this format students have the unique opportunity to learn and collaborate with several teachers and students within a single lesson. The class is typically supervised by two homeroom teachers, up to two English as an Additional Language (EAL) or Learning Support teachers and Instructional Assistants, and consists of a wider peer group of around 40 students.
A growing number of international schools in Asia are developing environments that promote collaborative teaching and learning while encouraging student agency. These spaces are sometimes called learning communities, studios or learning hubs. At ISB, we call them Team Rooms.
Team Teaching harnesses the full potential of the classroom setting by combining a variety of teacher skills to meet the diverse needs of learners. Such an approach builds bridges that enable students to access more individualized learning experiences. Teachers collaborate to create small and flexible learning groups, allowing learners to benefit from each other in harmony with their abilities, skills, and interests.
Collaboration enables learning amongst teachers as they identify ways to develop their own teaching approach. The experience and expertise of each teacher are woven into the fabric of the classroom creating an enhanced environment for rich interactive learning. Learning quality is improved as deeper personal connections with students are developed. Students who learn at a different pace or who learn differently can be better served in a Team Teaching environment.
When implemented correctly the value and benefit of Team Teaching permeates virtually every area of the learning experience. Team Teaching can take many different forms depending on the needs of each classroom. The greater the variety of perspectives brought into the group the greater potential there is for students to participate in a greater variety group tasks. As a result students boost their ability to learn new skills and improve their task performance in the future.
Teamwork makes the dream work
Our ISB’s Learner Attributes fit perfectly within the Team Teaching environment. Flexible seating in Team Rooms means students bring their materials to their chosen learning space every day. This sense of responsibility helps students develop self-managing behavior which is actively supported and encouraged by our teachers.
In this environment our students also hone skills that help them become more adaptable and socially-intelligent. Flexible classroom groupings of over 40 students allow every learner to work with a variety of classmates throughout the day, building and navigating relationships with their peers. Finally, the expanded potential for activities within a Team Room means that students can focus on creative tasks as they learn through collaboration and experimentation.
Whilst ISB endorses Team Teaching as a valuable and effective method of instruction, what is most important is the feedback from the learners themselves. We surveyed students in Team Rooms on what they thought of their learning experience. Many responded with enthusiasm:
"I love the Team Room! It helps my learning because I have a choice about who I learn with depending on what I am learning. There are different students to work with all the time. I also like it because there are so many teachers. And teachers explain things differently, this helps my learning." - Amaya
"I have been at ISB since PreK. I like the Team Room. It is better for me than a smaller classroom. I get to meet more friends. I know so many more people now. Last year I would sometimes feel lonely at recess or in class when I couldn't find a partner. That doesn't happen this year." - Adriana
"The Team Room is fun. We can be creative in so many ways because we have more room. We also have more teachers so we can do different types of learning, depending on what group you choose or are a part of." - Aviv
"This is my first time in the Team Room. At first I thought I would not enjoy having so many teammates. But it is what I love the most. It is also good to have so many different teachers. I work with different teachers all the time." - Victoria
“It’s fun, there’s a lot of people in the class to make friends with. There are more teachers, so more people can help you learn and teach you. The class is bigger, so there’s more freedom to choose where you want to sit.” - Merek
We also asked parents for their perspectives and were encouraged by the response:
“The Team Room made my child be happy, more confident, have a lot of friends, nice teachers. We learn together in the Team Room. All the time that we’re in the Team Room together is so valuable!” - Khun Yok
“When I learned that our 2nd grade daughter would be in a team taught classroom, I was skeptical to say the least. I couldn’t envision how a classroom holding over thirty-five 7 year olds would possibly work.
“The first step in calming anxious parents was to show us a time-lapse video of the classroom taken over one whole school day. Watching the children and teachers move like a well-oiled machine assured me that the physical needs of each child was being met. My initial concern was that my child would not get enough individual attention or assessment, but the exact opposite occurred. She now had multiple teachers able to provide feedback and advice on her learning. I also believe that socially, my daughter benefited greatly from having more students than usual with whom she could work, learn and play.” - Meredith Page
Although our Team Rooms are small they play an important role in the wide range of learning initiatives that we integrate at ISB. ISB continuously strives to meet the needs of diverse learners, creating a valuable educational experience that develops the skills, values and attributes for success in the years ahead.