Teachers team up

By Dick Mason, The Observer May 27, 2013 10:48 am

Brandon Galvez, left, and Wade Wright will be team teaching a science class at La  Grande High School in 2013-14. (Chris Baxter/The Observer)
Brandon Galvez, left, and Wade Wright will be team teaching a science class at La Grande High School in 2013-14. (Chris Baxter/The Observer)

LHS instructors form 2-person teams to help students prepare for state skills test 

The word teamwork will take on an added dimension at La Grande High School in 2013-14.

A small number of LHS science, math and English classes will be taught by teams of two teachers in 2013-14 as part of a pilot program. The intent of the program is to better prepare students for the state Essential Skills Test all students must pass to be eligible to graduate with a standard diploma. 

“It (the team teaching program) has a lot of potential to help students achieve,’’ said La Grande High School Principal Andrea Waldrop.

Faculty set to work in tandem in 2013-14 include science teachers Brandon Galvez and Wade Wright.

Galvez believes the team teaching approach will work well because it will allow more directions to be taken in the classroom.

“It will give us more flexibility,’’ Galvez said.

A big advantage is that it will make it easier for teachers to divide students into groups based on their understanding of a subject and then provide specialized small group instruction. The groups will be fluid, changing daily based upon how well students are comprehending the content. 

La Grande School District Superintendent Larry Glaze said team teaching is a proven way of instruction, one which has been practiced successfully for decades in other school districts. 

“This is not a new way of instruction,’’ Glaze said.

Galvez said team teaching will be particularly effective when the experience and interests of the instructors complement each other. Galvez said this is true in his and Wright’s case. Galvez explained their areas of expertise are a good mix for the broad-based science class they will teach since Wright has more experience in biology and he has a more extensive background in earth science. 

Wright said that another key to a successful teaching team is an ability to compromise.

“We have to give up individual preferences and agree on the content,’’ he said.

 Galvez agreed, noting that when two teachers with different areas of expertise get together to organize a course each has a tendency to want to include more elements from his field. This means compromises have to be reached as the content is determined and synthesized. 

“We have to agree on the essentials,” Galvez said. 

Galvez is optimistic that he and Wright will be a strong teaching tandem. 

“We work well together,’’ Galvez said.

Glaze said he is impressed with the initiative and creativity educators in his district are showing as they develop strategies like team teaching to help students meet higher state standards.     

“I have a lot of faith in our teachers. They are meeting the challenge in front of us,’’ he said.

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