MIDDLE SCHOOL TEACHING AND TEAM BUILDING
Gathered from various sources.
WHAT IS INTERDISCIPLINARY TEAMING?
Interdisciplinary team teaching is an instructional practice in which two or more teachers combine their abilities, energies, interests, enthusiasm and knowledge of pupils to teach the core academic disciplines to a group of students with a constant, unvarying membership. Interdisciplinary teaming provides for collegial support and assistance. Interdisciplinary teaming expands the instructional and classroom options.
Teams share common planning times during which they:
1. discuss and individualize experiences for the students they teach in common;
2. plan coordinated efforts in solving student problems;
3. prepare cooperatively taught, interdisciplinary lessons that involve shared
objectives or concepts that are explorable by more than one discipline;
4. confer as an informed, unified group of experts with students, parents,
patrons, and school officials.
Belongingness and distinctiveness for students and teachers are engendered by Interdisciplinary teaming.
Teaming creates a "school within a school" environment in which students and teachers develop loyalty to the team.
Interdisciplinary teaming allows for great flexibility in scheduling.
Interdisciplinary teaming enhances shared decision-making.
Team teaching permits the integration of the academic core curriculum, enhancing the motivation of students and subsequent retention of learning objectives. The integration of core and related-arts curricula to the great benefit of each is also possible.
The interdisciplinary team will emulate the self-containment typically found in elementary schools. A structure that is similar to self-containment is imperative in providing an adequate, incremental transition from the elementary to the middle school.
The team provides for flexible and adaptable grouping opportunities.
The team makes more effective use of the abilities and talents of team members.
The team enables more effective instructional problem-solving by concentrating the experience and insight of several professionals.
PUTTING AN INTERDISCIPLINARY TEAM TOGETHER
Create a team name, logo, and/or mascot.
As individuals, complete the accompanying instruments regarding teaching, analyze your belief systems concerning education.
Determine your teaching styles and methods, testing methods, discipline beliefs and methods.
It is critical that you know your own teaching before you can effectively team.
Share and compare the results with each team member in open meeting.
As a group, review permanent record folders of students assigned on the team.
Plan to coordinate your homework assignments and testing schedule.
Coordinate your discipline plans.
Develop a plan to keep a team bulletin board.
Establish standards for students that provide consistency, e.g., late work, headings on papers, discipline, etc.
Plan team recognition of students, e.g., awards, team activities.
Begin identifying field trips for the year.
Identify students with special learning or behavioral problems. Review their confidential files.
Consider social events (summer and at other times) to get to know each other better.
Invite the librarian to a team meeting to better understand the resources in the media center.
View materials upon "Interdisciplinary Team Teaching".
Review standardized tests results available in the guidance office.
Consider a plan to work cooperatively to teach and reinforce academic and study skills, e.g., "skill of the week," study skills.
Schedule a time to meet with the counselors during a team plan to review procedures for parent conferences, etc.
Obtain and read the Middle School Journal, The Journal of Early Adolescence, or Schools in the Middle to keep abreast of middle school programs. Consider joining the State Middle Level Education Association.
Conduct a self-evaluation of the effectiveness of your team at the end of the year. Use the instrument provided.
Conduct periodic checks of the Organizational Notebooks to insure students are keeping the supplies they need.
Review the examples of commercial Interdisciplinary Units purchased from such publishers as Wiles, Bondi and Associates.
A team may wish to adapt one of these for their own use.
1. Meet as a team for three hours per week. Have an agenda. Notify the principal of
the day of the week your team meets.
2. Plan for ten interdisciplinary units during the year:
Five that incorporate all subject areas and Five that encompass 2 subjects, e.g., science/math, language arts/social studies,
MIDDLE SCHOOL TEAM INFORMATION OPINIONNAIRE -
GETTING TO KNOW YOUR TEAM
1 2 3 4 51 equals greatest agreement, 5 equals least agreement
[ ] Each student should have teachers who know him well.
[ ] Guidance services should be available to all students.
[ ] Group guidance can be provided by the teacher with
direction of the counselors.
[ ] Activities such as athletics, dances, clubs,
fraternities and sororities should be available to
middle school students.
[ ] Co-curricular and exploratory activities - such as
instrumental music, choir, technology education, art,
drama should be available to determine, nurture and
expand student interests and aptitudes.
[ ] Remedial instruction should be available to assist
students in achieving objectives.
[ ] Reteaching is one the most important features of middle
[ ] All students will learn if given the necessary amount
of time and attention.
[ ] Physical education and intramurals are a critical
component of the middle school.
[ ] Teaching methods and materials must be continually
varied for the teacher to be effective with middle
[ ] Manipulative or tactile activities are effective with
middle school students.
[ ] Classroom misbehavior should not be tolerated.
[ ] Teachers can handle most discipline problems before the
problems get too large.
[ ] Parental involvement is essential for middle school
[ ] Well-defined course outcomes should be available for
each core academic area.
[ ] The middle school program should be child-centered and
not subject centered.
[ ] Understanding young adolescent is key to the success of
middle school teachers.
[ ] Prominently displaying student work is beneficial to
[ ] Straight rows are the best way to seat pupils.
[ ] Students need to learn cooperation while at school.
[ ] A student who is late with an assignment is responsible
and should experience memorable consequences.
[ ] Students should be told once and than are responsible
[ ] A student's personal problems should not be allowed to
affect his schooling.
[ ] Schools control the conditions that bring success to
Upon completion, add the responses of each team member for each statement and compute the average response for the team. In a meeting, discuss the average response and consider carefully how each member's response relates to that average. What is most important in team teaching is that you know the members of your team, not that you are in unison with them on individual issues. As the team matures and members get to know one another, they will grow more alike.
The team leader: has the ability to coordinate and direct the activities of the team members - is organized - accurately and promptly prepares reports -is committed to Interdisciplinary teaming -is able to motivate other team members -is able to diplomatically conduct conferences-is able to resolve conflicts arising within or around the team -should conduct regular team meetings (three per week is suggested) -should seek to maintain a positive team attitude -should facilitate the exchange of ideas, information and concerns -should seek to develop the leadership abilities of other members.
While effective team meetings and agreement on common goals are basic to teaming, they are often not easily achieved. Team members are likely to possess different levels of expertise in group problem-solving. They should equally share in the decision making process nonetheless.
a. Prepare the agenda in advance
b. Collect all needed materials
2. Team meeting management
a. Reach consensus on the agenda
b. Each member contributes
c. Stay on task and on topics
d. Keep records
3. Task or context analysis
a. Study the situation and the facts
b. Examine opinions and assumptions about the
c. Determine consequences of inaction
4. Action plans
a. What has been successful elsewhere?
b. Brainstorming strategies
c. Alternatives to intervention
d. Consequences of intervention
e. Reexamine predicament - look for uncertainty
f. Design plan
g. Reach consensus on process and accountability
h. Reach consensus on timetable, communication and
5. Follow through on decisions
a. Do not alter the plan without consensus
b. Set up evaluation of the results of the plan
Simply put, interdisciplinary integrated unit instruction involves the approach to various content objectives by more than one of the academic disciplines. For instance, a geography objective involving the study of a particular region can be explored through mathematics; examining economics, demographics and associated numeric data. Flora, fauna, and environmental issues can be inspected through science classes; English classes would be used to tie the package together with reports, essays or oral presentations. As teams mature, these integrated units will grow increasingly complex and will go into much greater depth. Training will be available.
Writing across the curriculum is an effective way to initiate integrated or interdisciplinary curriculum.
EXPECTATIONS FOR TEAMS
It is expected that:
Teams meet at least 150 minutes per week - agendas and minutes are anticipated;
Team members share essential rules and consequences;
Team teachers support and assist one another's curriculum;
Teams cooperate and share ideas and programs with other teams;
Team teachers cooperate regarding time, curriculum, grading resources and materials;
Team teachers utilize cooperative learning;
Teams communicate with parents frequently;
Team teachers communicate with administration regarding student failure if it occurs;
All students will be successful;
Teams utilize enrichment times and resources;
All unsuccessful children be retaught and reassessed as necessary to achieve success;
Daily and continual feedback provided to students regarding learning;
Academic processes or results never, ever be used to punish or threaten;
Students not be held responsible for a lack of understanding, ability or speed of learning;
Students be held responsible for being willing to attend, work and learn;
All IEP prescribed adjustments be made for special students;
That no child be demeaned at any time for any reason;
Team members control their hallways during passing times;
All children maintain a journal wherein are kept examples of academic work;
Each team have a name and mascot;
Team teachers be intolerant of improper student behavior;
Rewards be frequently given for meritworthy behavior of any kind;
Teams continually involve the parents of unwilling students;
Teams involve the State Department of Human Services when unwilling parents of unwilling pupils are encountered;
All professionals be kid teachers, not school teachers;
Team teachers become familiar with research demonstrated characteristics of middle school aged children.
TEACHING MIDDLE SCHOOLERS
Divide lesson plans into three or four activity segments changing activities with each new segment. Use about 12 minutes for input/delivery sessions within each activity.
Classroom instructional activities
Lecture demonstration - Questions and responses
Classwide group discussion
Audio-visual - film, videotape, audio recording
Inquiry - Independent study - research projects
Discovery - problem solving -
Silent reading -
Reading aloud -
Teacher reading -
Collaborative/Cooperative learning groups -
Seatwork instruction - investigate/analyze and respond -
Peer tutoring -
Games - competitions -
Drawing - painting - constructing.
Include as much student interaction as you can manage. Use cooperative learning and group process strategies.
Have daily and weekly lesson objectives written in plain sight and readable from any point in the room.
Keep a drawer containing replacements for "lost", "stolen" but probably "forgotten" supplies that may be loaned to forgetful (or fanciful) pre-adolescents. Students might be required to leave personal property as collateral for the loan.
Repeat directions three times with each repetition worded somewhat differently.
If you must raise your voice, maintain a pleasant or at least a neutral expression. This is not easy.
Always maintain eye-contact with your students.
Respond unfavorably to nonsense questions or statements: those utterances that are so far removed from the lesson as to generate laughter or derision. Communication in the classroom must reference the topic of the lesson or at least general curriculum.
Allow and plan for individual learning styles of children.
Actively teach reading, writing, speaking and listening no matter what your discipline. All of us teach communication.
Allow students to help plan lessons periodically, particularly with regard to methods and activities.
Rearrange student seating periodically. Surprise the kids!
Set deadlines for task completion. Post these so that all can see. Give extensions freely for illness or unavoidable delays. Give extensions only for a price otherwise.
Don't assign homework on the weekends.
Tell jokes or humorous stories often. Recognize birthdays, anniversaries and other occasions important to kids. Share yours with them.
Expect this age child to question or request justification from you. Such behavior is normal and is associated with their cognitive development. Do demand however that this questioning be respectful and germane to the lesson topic or curriculum.
EARLY ADOLESCENT DEVELOPMENTAL TASKS
Accommodating major physical, emotional and mental changes.
Accommodating the ambiguity, confusion, and frustration.
associated with these changes.
Managing the disintegration of childhood self-definition.
Integrating and developing a new and acceptable self-
Building emotional control.
Utilizing new reasoning capacities.
Organizing knowledge into problem solving strategies.
Recognizing and avoiding stereotypy.
Establishing gender/role identity.
Forming peer relationships and developing relationship
Learning to cooperate productively.
Identifying family and personal ethics and values.
Developing a sense of justice.
Considering a career.
from: Wiles, Bondi, Thornberg, Havighurst, Smith-Sutton, Alexander, George et al