Becoming a two-person act: re-examining and reworking the notion of team teaching at the level of university practice

Year: 2013

Author: Goriss-Hunter, Anitra, Echter-Baltrunas, Adele

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


Often examined in terms of school-based practitioners and located in Special Education discourse, team teaching has been constructed as a serviceable, if somewhat time-consuming and unwieldy method of sharing or splitting teaching responsibilities. However, this paper challenges that tired notion by conducting a timely investigation of and reflection upon the authors' team teaching experiences of an undergraduate course in a teacher education program at a regional Australian university. In order to further investigate the disjunctures between the general literature on the topic and our experiences and student feedback concerning team teaching, the paper draws on Pugach and Johnson's concept of collaboration as an ontology or way of being rather than an isolated act. The paper also  extends Friend and Bursuck's description of team teaching approaches as one teach, one observe, station teaching, parallel teaching, alternative teaching, teaming and one teach, one assist. We argue that team teaching is actually a much more complex process than allowed by this description of teaching approaches. In order to tease out some of the complexities and richness of the team teaching process, we examine our pedagogies and practices in terms of spiralling connections and disconnections to students, information, learning outcomes, and, each other as collaborative practitioners and academics.  From our research it is apparent that this multi-modal model of team teaching has vitally important implications not only for those who practice this form of teaching but also for teacher education - especially notions of quality teaching - at both national and international levels and in the school and university sectors.