Thursday, February 2, 2012

Raising your game: co-teaching a class

This semester, I have the privilege of co-teaching an introduction to law course with a professor from the  Storrs campus. Co-teaching a class has been a wonderful learning experience for me. While the idea was two teachers could split the workload, I am finding that I spend more time preparing for each class than if I taught it on my own. Here are some of the unexpected benefits from co-teaching a class:

1) You bring your A game to every class.

I have tremendous respect for my co-teacher; he is a master teacher with far more experience than me. While I always give 100% to my teaching, co-teaching with a master teacher forces me to think and rethink every choice I make. 

2) You think about how you would explain the lesson to another expert.

Thinking about how you would explain your lesson plan to a colleague forces you to think about your lesson in a different way. We all consider how our students are going to absorb the material when we lesson plan, but thinking about the questions an expert might ask forces me to think more deeply about how my lesson works.

3) Feedback helps you see weaknesses your students might not point out.

I don't mean constructive criticism. Feedback--the back and forth about teaching--forces you to deal with what you don't know. So far this semester, I have learned that I need to learn how to use HuskyCT (a classroom web platform) and that I am behind the curve on learning technologies in general. This is a benefit that comes from teaching with a non-law school professor; other disciplines have embraced technology in a way that law has not.

4) You have to grapple with equally valid, but different, perspectives on a topic.

My co-teacher and I have very different backgrounds, and different perspectives. He was a big-firm lawyer before going back for his PhD; my experience with the law is in public interest and education. We have different perspectives on the challenges in the field. When I plan a lesson, I have to think about how it applies to big firm and corporate law.

(RCF)

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