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Traditionally, teachers fly solo, working independently to educate their assigned groups of students. However, in some more modern educational setups, teachers have the opportunity to work in tandem, team teaching with a colleague. While the specific setup of a team teaching arrangement varies from school to school, in most instances, one teacher provides direct instruction while another works with students individually or teaches a separate subject. This type of teaching certainly has its advantages, but disadvantages also exist that make this type of teaching perhaps not the right option for all schools.
Lack of Co-Planning Time
To effectively team teach, teachers must have co-planning time, or time during the day when they can meet and prepare lessons. In many schools, this extra time does not exist. If teachers who plan to team teach do not share planning periods, or both are saddled with busy schedules, it may be next to impossible for them to find the time to cooperatively plan or even discuss their lessons with each other, making it harder for them to create continuity and flow in their co-prepared lessons.
As students work with teachers, they begin to learn each teacher’s unique expectations. If one half of a team-teaching pair has high expectations while the other has lower, students may struggle to meet these differing requirements.
Increased Student Dependency
One of the things many schools like about team-teaching is that this setup often allows for more one-on-one time with students. While this can certainly be a benefit, it can prove detrimental as well, reports James Madison University. As this source states, when students become used to one-on-one assistance, they may become overly dependent on this help and less able to tackle learning tasks independently, ultimately making learning more difficult for them, particularly during later schooling when more independence is necessary.
Depending on the physical classroom space available for team teaching, noise can present a challenge. If one teacher is working with students in small groups or teaching a separate lesson while another leads a full group lecture, the noise level can become distractingly high. While this issue can be overcome by designating each teacher a separate space, in some overcrowded schools, this separation of space simply isn’t an option.
Erin Schreiner is a freelance writer and teacher who holds a bachelor's degree from Bowling Green State University. She has been actively freelancing since 2008. Schreiner previously worked for a London-based freelance firm. Her work appears on eHow, Trails.com and RedEnvelope. She currently teaches writing to middle school students in Ohio and works on her writing craft regularly.