As Tom Burton, director of administrative services for Cuyahoga Heights Schools in Ohio and frequent contributor to the Association for Middle Level Education writes, “Effective teaming is one of the most powerful best practices for middle grades schools.” For teachers, the benefits are many. Teamed teachers have common planning time in which they can collaborate to support their students’ academic and social-emotional strengths and areas of growth. This helps them develop appropriate interventions and extensions for each student. As teamed teachers all instruct the same group of students, they can create interdisciplinary learning activities which enhance students’ understanding of key concepts and skills. Teamed teachers can more efficiently and effectively engage with counselors, special education staff, specialists including Resource and Gifted teachers, and English Learning teachers.
Students and parents, likewise, benefit from this model. Breaking the grades into smaller teams allows students to make bonds with classmates who share their schedules. As the year progresses, students feel a sense of belonging and pride in their team. Additionally, when parents seek support for their child, they can turn to the child’s team for a collaborative approach to best meet the needs of their child.
So, what does teaming look like at Swanson? Grade levels are broken up into teams of around 100 students for their core curriculum classes, including English, Science, Social Studies, and Reading (for 6th graders). Students are unteamed for their Physical Education and elective courses. This gives students time to interact with all their peers in addition to the social time that occurs during lunches and extracurricular activities. To see Swanson’s teams, check out the Grade listings from the homepage main menu!