In schools, there is nothing more powerful than the relationship between the child and the teacher. We prioritize the relationship between teachers and students at Virginia Chance School by having two lead teachers in each classroom.
In what ways do students benefit from the two-teacher model specifically?
When there is a second teacher in the class, teachers can take time to explore engaging academic and social questions, like; what happened? How did that make you feel? How did it make other people feel? What could be done differently next time? And how do we make a repair now?
By exploring these questions, students develop skills like self-awareness, intrapersonal and interpersonal understanding, and more. They also learn empathy, problem-solving, and deep listening skills. Students are able to develop intellectually as well as socially and emotionally. In addition, there are many other benefits of having two teachers in a classroom:
- Student-teacher ratios remain low (resulting in higher student achievement and lasting academic benefits).
- There is more differentiated instruction and more hands-on work.
- It is safer because there are four eyes and ears instead of two.
- Students have two role models instead of one.
- There is more support for struggling students and expanded learning for students ready for more.
- There are more opportunities for ongoing, authentic assessment of student learning which guides instruction.
- Students get more one-on-one time with a teacher.
- Small group and individual, one-on-one instruction is enhanced and provided more often.
- There are more teaching strategies and methods used to reach all students.
- Students get more individual attention and have less need to compete for the teacher’s attention.
- Stimulating questions and inquiry-based learning opportunities are offered more often, yielding more student critical thinking, discovery, and learning.
- When one teacher is out, and there is a substitute teacher, the remaining teacher provides consistency and continuous learning.
- There are more problem-solving ideas because there are two teacher perspectives to support the students’ problem-solving growth.
- There is a shared responsibility for student learning - all students are “our students.”
- No student “falls through the cracks” because teachers can attend to the students and their needs daily.
In what ways do the teachers benefit from a two-teacher model?
All of the above positively affect the teachers in addition to these essential and meaningful benefits:
- Lesson planning is richer, more thorough, and more creative.
- Teachers have more time for reflection, which enhances teaching and learning.
- There is another professional to process issues with and consult.
- Teachers have more support and can help each other.
- Teachers learn from one another.
- A shared workload.
- Collaboration and team teaching are enhanced, realized, and effective.
- Teachers can discuss assessment results and better understand each student’s strengths and needs.
- There is less frustration and feelings of being overwhelmed.
- Parent questions and concerns are responded to more quickly.
- The teachers’ strengths complement one another.
- There is less teacher “burnout.”
- There is more mutual respect and better relationships among teachers.
- Teachers have more fun and experience more joy!
Ultimately when schools invest in this two-teacher model, it demonstrates that the priority is teaching and learning. However, systems must be in place to support this work. This support includes a strategic focus and financial commitment from school leaders.
Is there any more significant investment a school can make than being set up to successfully deliver an engaging, thought-provoking best-in-class education? We know and see the results daily; to us, it’s an easy answer that we’ve committed to since 1956.