The last years of the pandemic have put a spotlight on schools and teachers. Lockdown that also closed schools made families understand that teaching in a comprehensive manner is not something that comes naturally. It is an acquired skill. These past years also created needs of support that teachers and schools are still trying to solve.
In the past teachers were called “people’s candles” in Finland because of their respected status as someone who educated the community. This role could also be a lonely one. Fortunately, times have changed and today teachers work as members of staff in educational institutions. Teachers can work together and enjoy the fruits of collaboration.
I want to share my co-teaching experience with educators because for me it changed my perception of teaching entirely. I entered working life immediately after graduation. Teachers are often the lone adults in their classrooms and rarely get any constructive professional feedback. I faced challenging situations with my students and their families. There were moments when I did not know what to do. Many times I also felt that I was not enough. Luckily I had a good professional community around me with helpful colleagues who helped me through difficult times.
Then I was introduced to co-teaching. Compared to my years of teaching alone, I now had a person who taught beside me. With her, together we reflected on our lessons, our working methods, received and gave feedback and shared our thoughts. Seeing my colleague solve challenging situations or employ new teaching techniques also encouraged me to improve my teaching. When I faced difficult times, my co-teaching partner helped me stay professional and positive. My experiences have shown to me that co-teaching is much more than just teaching alongside another teacher. Together we were better teachers but more importantly together we were happier teachers.
Coming back to the present situation in schools. It is relevant to think how we can support teachers’ in their daily work. I see co-teaching as a source of strength, source of work related joy and a way to share workload. Co-teaching could be one solution to support teachers' well-being and make sure that the schools don’t lose motivated and engaged teachers to other sectors of work.
Introduction to Co-teaching- https://www.ccefinland.org/introduction-to-co-teaching