My maternal grandfather loved pro wrestling. He loved professional boxing more, but wrestling was on almost every night and then boxing went and got itself fancied up for Pay-Per-View.
So wrestling it was. And not just any old match would do. It needed to be the massive ring bouts where teammates worked together to defeat one or both of the other team. Sometimes it even involved one teammate distracting the hapless referee so that shenanigans could ensue – and presumably win the match. The crowd was always involved by cheer or jeer. Sometimes an overly rambunctious fan even made their way into the action, providing a folding chair for the opponent, or even taking a swing with a handbag.
It was a colorful masquerade and one where everyone was involved. It was staged of course, but you dare not tell any of the fans in attendance lest you find your face on the business end of a chair yourself. They were serious about their wrestlers of choice.
And that leads us to this week’s topic du jour for our friends battling it out in the Higher Ed ring. You’re being assaulted at every angle now with students who bring their own devices, industry hiring managers insisting on collaborative curriculum and soft skills molding, and guys like me who are telling you that your one-way lecture model isn't going to work anymore in a world of social, open source learning and MOOCS.
If you’re the instructor of choice for today’s student, you've probably mastered the art and science of employing team teaching beyond the old guest lecturer days.
If not - let’s step into the square circle shall we?
Poll a few of your friends if you have never tried team (or collaborative) teaching. They will probably fall in one of two camps: the best or worst experience of my professional career.
In one corner (worst), you’ll no doubt hear stories about how other instructors undermined each other, students became very fragmented and instead of a very open fluid learning approach there was utter chaos. The cage match of wrestling they’ll call it – too much going on to keep up with so you just wait for the first casualty.
In the other corner (best), you’ll hear tales of students who truly were engaged, actively participating in learning and going so far as to suggest future topics, additional research and work on their own. These same students may have even left their smartphones in their backpack!
Somewhere in the middle is probably where the truth will be ferreted out though.
Here are three models to consider from the instructor side of the match if you’re considering taking up a life inside a Lucha Libre!
Traditional team teaching (the old tag team) – loosely defined as you plus one or maybe two who cover specific portions of the class or another predetermined selection of material.
Your students will benefit from the different perspectives, usually delivered one at a time and the deeper level of understanding they’ll gain from the group-on-one model.
Of course, planning here is key on numerous levels. There are no sick days in tag-team. When you’re on, you’re on or the match doesn't take place. Your role may be the attacker or defender, the instructor or the preparer. This of course assumes you won’t have conflicting other classes to balance which are not in the same sphere. For example, three solo traditional classes plus one, team teaching course.
Linked course teaching (the cage match!) – loosely defined as a group of students who are taking classes together which are linked by a common theme. For example, English, political science and world history are joined by instructors who provide a deeper level of insight into the theme, “technology.” In this way, each instructor is able to share specific insights once or twice per week on cause and effect, connections, and differences between the theme and each subject.
Your students will arguably enjoy this if for no other reason than it connects dry course material to, “the real world.”
Then again, finding students to sign up for this approach and faculty who can orchestrate it all is challenge enough.
And our third model is the equivalent of taking the wrestling matches out into the streets, the neighborhood grocery and still maintaining a solid showing in the arena: connected course teaching!
This one is loosely defined as courses which are arranged and connected to meet at the same time as a whole so the instructors can illustrate the interdisciplinary topics or themes woven into the core classes.
You’ve got a lot going on here to be certain, but an example might be political science, biology and introductory engineering exploring the role of sustainability.
Your students are linked on multiple levels and get to share with others in classes they may not have normally interacted with. The theme or topic can go a long way towards building a community of different backgrounds all because the various instructors worked together.
Good luck finding a place to stage this show. That is all.
So now we've covered down on the three most talked about team teaching models. That’s great you say – but where’s the finish? Where’s the signature Verge Pipe Media lecture on technology, social and millennials?
It’s as simple as the role of the referee in the ring with our masked heroes: keep the action in front of you (and the fans).
That’s all. Leverage 2nd screens where possible through video, interactive and real time quizzes and for polls to gauge learning. Allow students to “raise their hand” via a prompt on their device, from anywhere in the world! There’s more….but that’s another match.
Author: Don Crow is Founder & CEO at Verge Pipe Media. Verge Pipe Media
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