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Team Teaching: Staying on Task and
Not Stepping on Each Other's Toes

Friendly banter and spontaneous discussion between co-teachers can be a useful and educational part of a team-taught class. But it’s important to ensure that the instructors stay on schedule and on-topic. This can be done by setting a few ground rules between co-teachers: When is it OK to interrupt each other, and when is it better to take turns speaking? How will you handle the situation when your interaction with your co-teacher clouds the main points you want your students to learn? What can you do when your co-teacher’s feedback contradicts your own? How will you grade your students with a single voice?

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Lectures:

Decide when you want the lectures to be free form (with both teachers adding information throughout) and more structured (teachers taking turns leading lectures). If you agree that it’s OK for one teacher to interrupt the other, make sure the interruptions are supportive and not distracting.

Critiques:

It can be confusing if two instructors give contradicting feedback or too many things to work on. Agree beforehand to limit the feedback so as not to overwhelm the student. If the feedback is contradictory, you can turn it back to the student by saying something like “You have heard several possibilities. Decide which direction you want to go and defend your decision when you present the work.” Staying on schedule is also important. Agree how much time you want to spend on each critique, and keep within those limits.