Jake Gourley, one of my colleagues on the Advance Illinois Educator Advisory Council, recently penned an op-ed piece for Catalyst Chicago – an independent reporting blog on urban education. In his excellent article, Jake makes a strong case for what middle school teachers call the team planning period. This is a scheduled daily opportunity for teachers to collaborate on planning instruction, whether they are members of the same interdisciplinary team in middle school or members of the same department in high school.
The team planning period is an essential component of the middle school model. It is sometimes viewed with envy by teachers at the elementary and high school levels as a second planning period. Only after attending such a meeting conducted by an effective middle school team of teachers can one see that it is highly structured and follows an established agenda. Each teacher assumes an important role during the meeting . Examples could include the following – team leader, recorder, communications and public relations, RtI coordinator, webmaster, homework coordinator, etc.
With interdisciplinary and integrated instruction being key components of the middle school model, the team meeting is an absolute necessity. Planning for effective interdisciplinary units and addressing strategies for meeting the developmental needs of early adolescents should not be left to chance discussions in the teachers’ dining room or after school hours. As clearly expressed in Jake’s article, high school teachers are also discovering the value of teacher collaboration to the ultimate benefit of the students.