Making the Most of Opportunities:

Close-Up Views of a SAGE Program

A Report of the Collaborative Action Research Project of the SAGE Program

at Webster Stanley Elementary School, Oshkosh, WI, 1999-2000

Sharon Wagner

Second-grade teacher

Research Question

During the 1999-2000 school year the SAGE program expanded to included my second grade room. Due to a shortage of classrooms, I was asked to team teach. My research question was, How do I team teach successfully?

I decided that by doing an action research on team teaching I would be able to identify reasons why having a smaller teacher-to-student ratio is better for student learning. I was also interested in learning more about whether we could better meet the varied needs of our students by having two teachers in the same room.

Classroom Make-Up

We have 25 students in our classroom. Of these 25 students 11 are at a free or reduced lunch level. We have eight Hmong students, one Hispanic student, and 16 European American students in our classroom. We have 11 girls and 14 boys.

Research Methods

In order to study the effects of team teaching both upon myself, as a teacher, as well as our students, I had a third party observe our classroom and interview our students as well as my teaming partner. I also sent out a parent survey and kept notes in a personal journal.

My teaming partner and I were able to design the room, our class schedule, and our means of communicating with each other as well as with students and parents in such a way as to make the most of both teachers. We used a lot of small group centers and activities which allowed us to work with small groups of students at the same time.

After several children have written and illustrated their typed stories, Sharon Wagner asks the children to read their stories to the class. The child sits in the special chair for authors and the audience responds with questions and affirming comments. Other children are working with the other team teacher in a different part of the room.

Main Findings

There are many advantages to team teaching. If both partners are committed to the arrangement and willing to work at communication, teaming can be a success. After doing this research project I strongly recommend that when considering a team teaching partner, teachers go over the list of issues to consider before agreeing to team teach. These are the things that I've found to be the most important aspects to developing a successful team:

1. Teachers should be allowed the freedom to choose a compatible partner. The partner decision should occur after the teachers work systematically through the list of issues to consider when teaming and observing each other in respective classrooms. Each teacher needs enough teaching related information about the other to determine if the teaming will work out.

2. Each team member needs time to get to know your partner before beginning to team teach. It would be beneficial to do this in a social setting as well as in the classroom.

3. It would be helpful to have a written procedure stating issues concerning the teaming situation such as: How are teaming partners chosen? What happens if the team dissolves? Who maintains the classroom? Are teachers required to continue teaming? What is the procedure in the event that personalities, or teaching styles don't match?

4. Consistent daily planning time, in addition to specialist time is needed.

5. Administrative support which is fair and equal to both team members is helpful.

6. Both teachers should have equal ownership of the classroom as well as all resources.

Liz Krohn team taught with Sharon Wagner. During writer's workshop, Liz types a story by one of the children while Sharon works with other children elsewhere as in the previous picture.

SAGE Program