It’s true co-teaching is not for everyone. Sometimes, it’s a lot of extra work, and sometimes you get stuck with someone who has a different style or personality that doesn’t match well with yours. But then sometimes, all the planets align perfectly and it’s teaching heaven. Here’s my list of reasons I love (most of) my co-teachers. So far I’ve had six, but who’s counting?
1. Pee Breaks During Class
You know that feeling when lunch is over and you realize you didn’t use the bathroom? For the next two periods your bladder is miserable as you read Moby Dick, trying desperately to ignore all the water references. Not a problem with a co-teacher. You can even be like lifeguards and create arm/hand signals you give before stepping out for a quick, stress-free bathroom break.
2. No Judgement
It’s not like an observation. Sure, you may try to impress each other for the first couple of weeks if you’re just meeting and working together. But eventually you get to a point where you’re work spouses. I’m not saying you’ll stop shaving your legs and show up in sweatpants, but you’re comfortable enough you can be yourself instead of a Pinterest-perfect teacher.
3. No Sub Plans
When you’re out for the day, the co-teacher just carries on with whatever lessons you had planned. No need to stress about sub plans or students acting out. The day before taking off is no longer marred with the burden of copying seating charts and creating engaging busy-work for the students. With a co-teacher, you enjoy your day off knowing everything is already taken care of. Go ahead, a few extra drinks the night before your day off.
4. You Learn A Lot
I’ve had half a dozen co-teachers now, and I’ve learned a lot from seeing so many different styles of teaching. From my drama co-teacher I learned how to expertly pull the inner thespian from even the most reluctant students. From my tech co-teacher I learned all the tech tricks and new ways to incorporate technology in the classroom. Even from my worst co-teachers, I learned what not to do. Co-teaching is like having pain-free professional development all year long.
5. They Help Manage the Chaos
Sometimes, conflict between a student and teacher reaches a point where it’s helpful to have someone from the outside step in. For example, Mrs. Smith is going back and forth with Johnny about his cell phone; Mr. Miller can step in and quietly address it, objectively, while Mrs. Smith goes back to teaching. Johnny can feel like he still saves face since the class is resumed and no longer watching what is happening between Johnny and Mr. Miller. Co-teachers also share the responsibility of making contacts home; at the very least you’ll have their support if your story ever doesn’t match the student’s (cause that never happens).
6. They Cover For You
Sure, you probably have your teacher friends who will watch your back, but the loyalty with co-teachers is thicker than blood. I’ve forgotten faculty meetings, missed administrative deadlines, even missed inputting report card grades (not all in the same year, I’m talking over the course of my career). My co-teachers have covered for me or even done it for me each time. And of course I’ve returned the favor and saved many of their butts over the years as well.
7. It’s Someone to Laugh With
Your incredibly clever puns and teacher jokes are hysterical, even if the students don’t think so. Having a co-teacher ensures your hilarious self gets the laughs you deserve. Also, students say the craziest things! Hysterical and often unbelievable things. It’s always better when there’s another adult in the room to share in on the laughter. When a high school student asks “When was ice invented?” you want another teacher in the room to exchange the did-she-really-just-say-that?! look to. And then there’s the laughter once the students leave the room. It’s so much better than attempting to explain it to someone else and always ending the story with “I guess you had to be there.”
8. Twice the Teacher Glare
Some student behavior is so ridiculous just one teacher stare-down isn’t enough. Give them a double-dose and they quickly fall back into line.
9. Half the Grading
Very few teachers rate grading as their favorite part of the job. When you have a co-teacher, you automatically cut your grading in half. IN HALF! I once got a co-teacher that loved grading essays. I almost cried tears of joy when she told me she went ahead and graded all 120 essays by herself the night before. If you’re reading this (and you know who you are since you are one of seven teachers in the country that actually enjoys grading five-paragraph essays) I love you and I miss you.
What did a miss? Have a favorite co-teacher story to share? Let me know with a comment!