Saturday, January 15, 2011

Working Together Works

I was recently reminded of a course I team taught many years ago at another college with Professor Mary Beth Doyle, the current chair of the Education Department at St. Michael's college. Her area of specialty is Special Education while mine is Elementary Education and we wanted to demonstrate to the students the importance of professionals working together who might come from different philosophical and pedagogical backgrounds.

I remember the course was a major success because we both approached the course content knowing both what we knew and didn't know. We also knew that we were going to have to re-examine what we knew in the light of each other's contribution to the course. This disposition of openness to accepting different ways of looking at things is something I learned from Dr. Doyle those many years ago and something I value as a significant part of my current professional life.

Two years ago I developed and started team teaching a course with Rita MacDonald, a faculty member in the Department of Applied Linguistics at St. Mike's. The course, Math and Diversity, brought our two academic fields, teaching English language learners and math education into close contact and again I felt the need to re-think my own field in light of what I was learning about teaching English language learners from Rita.
It seems to me that a complex organization like a school, or any institution of learning for that matter, works best when individuals are able to step outside their area of expertise and examine it from a different perspective. In the past few years more and more courses at St. Michael's are being co-taught by professors from two different departments allowing students to see the incredible things that can be learned through the intersection of two diverse academic fields.
Families work together to help their children graduate high school.

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