For Brookfield, what is even more powerful from team-teaching is the ability to model critical conversation for students. Co-teachers are able to discuss in front of the class their different perspectives on an issue and model for students how a critical examination of an issue does not have at its heart the desire to convert someone else to one’s own point of view, but rather to try and really get at the heart of an issue to try and distill some truth out of the different perspectives. This is the dialectical method and can be helpful in developing students from a dualistic understanding of knowledge and learning to one that is more multiplistic and relativistic and perhaps even come to a sense of commitment to a particular perspective without it becoming entrenched. Some of this section reminds me of the Perry Scheme of intellectual development in the language it uses.
For this to occur, colleagues need to cultivate trust among themselves and be sufficiently courageous to be vulnerable about their own mistakes, misperceptions and how they themselves are captive to hegemonic thinking. I like this way of being. It is where I feel most comfortable and alive. But not always, definitely not always. I think this is why my senior biology capstone course is so successful. I tend to be more transparent about myself and with my students than I am in my other courses. First-year biology is not so bad because I am sufficiently comfortable with the material that I welcome negotiating new things that students find in their own reading and sometimes research. In the past, my second-year courses (molecular cell biology and biochemistry) have been among my strongest. But over the last few years, I have become increasingly insecure as a result of implementing team-based learning in those classes. I am not sufficiently confident with the teaching strategy to allow myself to be vulnerable and transparent with my students. I am still trying to navigate what is appropriate to expect from students on reading quizzes (the two-stage readiness assurance tests) and how challenging to make the in-class applications of students' learning. I am still trying to figure this out. I think it works in the biology capstone because I have been unknowingly using some form of team-based learning since the 1990s. It works well in first-year biology because there is becoming available a wealth of resources to support this sort of teaching - I am finding good applications amongst the textbook resources. For molecular cell biology, I have developed what I think are outstanding experimental problems based on published papers but I wonder with the changes to our first-year biology curriculum (less emphasis on cell biology) if these are a little beyond what students can manage when they are trying to first master the content?
Anyways…. ! That was a big digression from this chapter.
Bottom line - team teaching can be an incredibly powerful way of incorporating the lens of our colleagues' perspectives in our quest to be critically reflective teachers.
ResourcesBrookfield, S. D. (2017). Team-teaching as critical reflection. In Becoming a critically reflective teacher, 2nd ed, p 135-152. San Francisco: CA, Jossey-Bass, A Wiley Brand. pp xvi, 286.
Haave, N. C. (2017). Using history and philosophy as the capstone to a biology major. Bioscene: Journal of College Biology Teaching, 43(1), 3–11.