Thursday, July 10, 2014

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger...

The value that two distinct teacher’s diversity of perspective, experience, talents, and knowledge bring to a classroom cannot be compared to a solo teacher in a classroom. But that diversity opens the door to a lot of possible conflict. Some things can be hashed out with establishing boundaries, scheduling time together, developing knowledge of each other, and learning together.

New co-teaching pairs as well as experienced pairs have an opportunity to do what Chip & Dan Heath suggest in the book, Decisive. They can begin the new year with meeting together to develop a vision for what the class will look like. The Heath Brothers use the term, “bookend the future.” Consider that if everything goes well, what will that look like? Imagining if it doesn’t go well and what that will look like allows you to plot out ways to avoid going off-course. Set up some “tripwires” that will provide a safety net. Tripwires for your relationship could include:
  • ·      Have not formally met to plan in 4 days
  • ·      Have not spent any time informally together in 2 days
  • ·      Can’t shake the feeling of annoyance over an incident that occurred 24 hours ago

Formalizing a plan to use the tripwires to get yourselves back on target will help the relationship immeasurably.


Conflict between the co-teaching pair is inevitable as well as desirable. If there was no conflict, there would be little change,   Teachers address problems and conflict  with parents and administrators daily and have different approaches to solving problems and making decisions.  The Decisive Framework can be very useful as a tool to help the decision making process.  Many of us have a tendency to narrow our focus, ignoring other possible options. Confirmation bias causes us to keep confirming a viewpoint without ever looking at the options or ideas that oppose our thinking.  Taking or gaining the perspective of another person helps to attain some distance from the problem before deciding. Imagining how things could go wrong and setting up tripwires to prevent that helps us to prepare to be wrong.

Liz Wiseman  has branded the term “accidental diminisher”  in her book Multipliers when considering leaders who unintentionally slow down or stop the learning  of the adults around them. Either of the teachers in a co-teaching pair can be an accidental diminisher by moving too fast, being overly optimistic or setting too high of a standard for quality or pace. One teacher can encourage helplessness in their partner by taking everything on or overwhelming the other with a barrage of ideas or enthusiasm. In other words, the accidental diminisher can suck the life out of the room.



Using the Accidental Diminisher visual and talking through the ideas in advance of ill feelings or “shutdown” could be a structure that enhances self-awareness.  



Co-teaching pairs spend as much or more time together as couples in committed relationships. Investing time up-front to develop common understanding and then creating a shared vision of the best possible classroom with ways to know when things are going south will secure your future together.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting post, Marilyn. The very last sentence, in particular, is quite powerful. Thanks so much for sharing. By the way, I love your new blog design. It's quite fancy! ;)

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