The relationship between teaching partners in a classroom can be a tenuous one. At our school, our classrooms are very diverse in how these partnership works. Some of our classrooms operate more in a traditional Lead Teacher/Assistant Teacher model, where the lead teacher is responsible for virtually everything (documentation, assessment, planning) and the assistant teacher performs tasks when asked by the Lead. In other classrooms, Assistant Teachers help with planning and documentation and give ideas, but the Lead Teachers still write all of the Progress Reports and handle all parent communication.
Other of our classrooms operate under a Co-Teacher model, where teachers should share equally in classroom responsibilities. In a few of these classrooms, Co-Teachers communicate well with each other, and the classroom runs smoothly. In others, teachers struggle to split up classroom tasks, and one or the other of them often feels that she is doing the lion-share of the work.
I’ve been reflecting on these relationships this summer, especially in light of the increased responsibility our classrooms have in monitoring children’s progress and documenting children’s work. I wonder: should we abandon some of the autonomy our classrooms have in favor of more explicit “job descriptions?”
Ann Lewin-Benham, in Twelve Best Practices in Early Childhood Education, advocates for each classroom having a “Classroom Manager.”
When children are new, [the Classroom Manager] observes all the children not working in a small group with the teacher. In this stage of a class’s life, managers are constantly on their feet, moving to different children who need guidance, and making notes so the teacher can see how children are using their time….
Once all the children choose work and [can] stay involved for long periods, the Classroom Manager, along with the teacher, can converse with small groups of children, read books, make music, or give lessons…..
So I wonder: how might we use some insights from this Classroom Manager model to not only create more harmonious classrooms, but also to further the deeper learning work we are doing?