Even though I was eager to teach in a CTT classroom, and even though Ms. Halpert and I seemed to be getting along well for relative strangers, I had my reservations. Last year, my classroom at times resembled a war zone. And as the only person over the age of 9 in a room of thirty people, I learned to think fast, to make firm decisions, to improvise. I had no paraprofessionals and no push-in providers, so I never had to clear my decisions with anyone else. If I wanted to extend my social studies lesson and shorten my word work period, I did it. If I wanted to spend all of first period discussing the schedule for the week and changing classroom jobs, I did it.
When Ms. Halpert and I sat down and started planning, I quickly realized I would face a new challenge: compromise. One of the things I appreciate and admire about Ms. Halpert is that even though she's a brand-new teacher, she doesn't just take my word for it and let me make all the decisions. If our roles were reversed and I was a brand-new teacher working with someone more experienced, I would probably take a passive role and let the experienced teacher take the lead. But Ms. Halpert doesn't do that, and our give-and-take on decision-making often leads to better decisions. The downside is that decision-making can take twice as long.
So in addition to my usual first-day-of-school fears, I had added concerns about co-teaching for the first time. Even though we'd been working together and practically attached at the hip for the first few days, we'd never actually seen each other in front of a group of kids before. Would we accidentally interrupt each other's first-day-of-school speeches? Would we disagree in front of the students?
So I'm pleased to report that the first day of school went really well. I really, really like Ms. Halpert's style with our class -- probably because it's so similar to my style, which reassures me even more that our principal really knew what he was doing when he "arranged our marriage," as he put it. I felt confident that we really presented as a united front, a teaching team.
Even better, I'm really pleased with the style of CTT. When we walk our class through the narrow stairwell (where our 28 students don't all fit on one flight of stairs), one of us is at the front of the line and the other at the back. When we did our Writing On Demand, Ms. Halpert walked around the classroom to check in with our students, and I sat with Karolina, who's newly arrived from Hungary and speaks very little English. We looked through a picture dictionary together and worked on simple sentences ("I like books," "My brother plays football"), and I didn't have to worry that somewhere else in the room something sneaky was going down.
After school, we high-fived each other, went to the dollar store to buy 10,000 more sets of plastic bins (classroom teachers, take note: you can never have too many plastic bins) and divided up our extensive to-do lists for the weekend. And thankfully, I still feel optimistic about the way the year will go.