Team-teaching has its perils and rewards. I have team-taught quite a lot over the years, mostly with compatible people, and, with few exceptions, I have found the benefits to exceed the chaotic or unsavory elements.
There are some classes I have team-taught many times over the years. There is one class in particular that I have team-taught at least 15 times. In this and other oft-(team)-taught classes, when I am not teaching and am sitting among the students listening to someone else teach, I may or may not take notes. If I do take notes, it may be to note new and interesting things in my colleague's lecture or to jot down something that will help me figure out what I need to teach when it is my turn. In some cases, I take notes to help keep me awake and alert.
The person with whom I typically team-teach is an excellent teacher, but there are a few lectures in particular that I'm not sure I can face a 16th time. I suppose it would be rude if I sat in the back of the room, sent text messages to my cats, and read blogs.
My team-teaching experience this term has thus far been very different because I am team-teaching a new class. In this new class, the primary classroom activities are talking and writing on a board. My colleague and I don't use lecture notes or Powerpoint in this class and we recently realized, after the first class, that we will have no visual 'record' of what we teach, for use when next we teach this class. It would, however, be useful to have such a record.
Creating and teaching a new class is a lot of work, and 2-3 years from now when I/we teach this course again, it would like to refer back to an archive of course materials from this term.
We therefore decided that one person would take notes while the other person is teaching. We both participate in every class in which we are both present, but typically one person is at the front of the class leading the discussion and the other is sitting with the students, mostly listening.
We decided to try to make these notes as complete as possible so as to have a good record of what exactly we covered. This will help us gauge the amount we can reasonably discuss in each class, what types of topics needed greater coverage (perhaps guided by questions from students), and what worked/what didn't.
Of particular interest for future improvements of the course will be keeping track of how we make transitions between topics and how effective we are at explaining certain concepts. These are difficult things to make notes about while also trying to copy everything that is written on the board. This type of note taking involves the same issues that students face when taking notes in a fast-paced course on a difficult topic, with some additional challenges.
During my student career, I was pretty good at taking notes that proved useful for later studying, but I have struggled with note-taking of the sort needed for this team-taught class. I know that I should write down everything, but sometimes, if my colleague is discussing something that I know extremely well and/or find obvious, I forget that I need to write it down anyway. Then I suddenly realize that I have a gap in the notes and I try to jot a few things down as a reminder, but while I do that I am missing some of the new information being presented.
Other times, my mind wanders as I ponder how my colleague has chosen to explain something and I consider whether/how to add to the discussion, either at that moment or later, and then I find a few more minutes have gone by and I have not been taking notes. Once again, my colleague is erasing the board of things I have not written down.
No, we are not going to do anything of an audio/video sort. We are going to accomplish this (or not) with notes.
I would give myself a C for note-taking so far in this class, but the academic year is still young and I hope to redeem myself by mid-term. My colleague isn't doing any better with his notes, but that doesn't make me feel any better. It will not be a disaster if we fail at our note-taking, but it would be nice if we could create some kind of useful record.
7 months ago