Team Teaching: What Does It Mean To You?

A Guest Blog Post By My Teaching Partner, Paula Crockett

This week, my teaching partner, Aviva, and I had the privilege of presenting at a webinar held by Diane Kashin entitled Tea, Team, Teach – Supportive Partnerships In The Time Of COVID.  Diane delivers incredible sessions (now online) to early educators from around the globe.  This particular session attracted teams from a variety of early learning settings, with a particular focus on the partnership of Ontario Certified Teachers and Early Childhood Educators working in Full-Day Kindergarten programs. A somewhat uncomfortable, extremely important conversation about the challenges this partnership brings, and the work we are still doing to unite these teams within the school system, has me thinking! 

The foundation for Full-Day Kindergarten was introduced, and implemented close to ten years ago!  As educators, we share a strong philosophy of how learning happens, and an amazing Kindergarten Program Document in which the Four Frames are grounded with children, families, and educators at the centre … YET we are still working on building collaborative kindergarten teaching teams that are safe, supportive and responsive to both educators. It seems that some of us are left in the dark, or as Diane put it, “lost in the woods”. The big question is… how do we continue to advance on building these bridges and supporting all team members, while respecting the true vision of the program – the value of combining our expertise? Here are a few takeaways from our work together.

Language matters – as ALWAYS, I am so fortunate to work with Aviva. She values all aspects of our partnership and includes me in everything.  Every note, Every conversation. Every post. I feel it. It is empowering!  I recently moved to a new school, and before the start of the year, both educator names were hung on the door. All classroom correspondence, whether it’s a message about a child or an office update about class lists, includes my name.  Uplifting! This may seem small but, unfortunately, this is not the norm.

Varied schedules make things hard – Truth! But … nothing is impossible. Teachers definitely have more time off program. A prep and two nutrition breaks (some days) allow for more opportunities to plan, prepare documentation, collaborate, and socialize within the larger school community. I wonder though, if as Early Childhood Educators, we could use our scheduled prep times before and after school a little differently. Organize meetings? Have some scheduled planning time with co-workers, and review documentation together? Communicate through email? What might be possible ways to get our voices out there and as part of a collective school voice? 

Undefined roles – I worked with a teacher many years ago, who had an extremely hard time understanding my role. Her responsibility to submit data caused her to feel as though she was the decision maker in the way things should be done. My role to her was to clean, organize, and supervise. Play times were used to complete “teacher” projects, bulletin boards, filing, etc…. I wonder now, if we needed to document more as a collective? Think more about how not everyone is at the same place at the same time, but push a little for next steps? Advocate more for what we know is best practice?

As an ECE, I know how difficult it is to work in an environment where you don’t feel quite equal: where the playing field feels a little slanted due to a difference in educational background and/or a lack of understanding of the contribution an Early Childhood Educator brings to learning. It’s hard to build relationships with co-workers when your schedules are different, when your voice is rarely called upon, or your decisions questioned. Even as an educator with vast experience in my field (25+ years) and where my practice as a leader has been valued, I often find myself staying within the safe bubble of my supportive classroom. I rarely even offer my voice in a professional context unless it is within my comfort zone of children, families, and direct co-workers. Why is this so hard? I wonder how we can change the perception of our profession and educate those around us. How do you make sure you are seen?


6 thoughts on “Team Teaching: What Does It Mean To You?

  1. Paula, I do love when you add your voice in first person in these blogs. Your post today made me realize that, aside from enjoying hearing your perspective, it is very helpful to providing those artefacts that model and teach what great value a DECE is in a program. When you talk about historically being undervalued and/or misunderstood – either personally or systemically – personal accounts go a long way to challenging biases and misperceptions. Understanding people’s experience through first hand accounts is a way to reflect on personal bias and, hopefully, move to lessen it. I love to read your perspective because you make me think, add fresh ideas, and reinvigorate me with your passion for this profession, but I also hope that it challenges other people in similar positions to ensure their voices are heard too, so that there can also be a systemic shift in bias and understanding.
    Thanks for contributing in this way, Paula!

    • Thanks so much for your comment, Kristi! I will definitely share it with Paula, and I know that it will mean a lot to her. Your comment is actually making me think more about a follow-up blog post that I’m contemplating. You have a knack for causing me to reflect. 🙂 You also have me wondering how we (the royal “we” in this case) can uplift various voices in education. There are so many voices that need to be heard.


  2. Paula, Thank you for sharing this inspiring and heartfelt post. I’d like to encourage you to continue to share your voice and experiences. It’s through these conversations and insights that others can see and learn, and perhaps think critically about their relationships with teaching partners in the classroom. What you have described will ultimately make your learning environment a great model for the children entrusted to your care – where everyone’s voice can be heard and everyone’s presence is important. This post could become a conversation starter for many others – so many more tea times needed!
    Helen DW

    • Thanks for your comment, Helen! I will definitely share it with Paula. I agree with you about the importance about having her voice heard, along with other voices. We need this diversity of insight/ideas to also provoke thinking within our teams and schools. I wonder about how to get this happening more often.


  3. Hi Aviva and Paula,
    I love your blog and honesty. So important to get folks talking about relationships in every setting. Just wondering if it’s ok to share your posts on Facebook pages?

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