TT – aka Team Teaching

Posted on May. 21, 2021


No, not the 2016 hit recorded by the South Korean girl group TWICE.

I’m talking about Team Teaching. Most, if not all of us, already know what Team Teaching is and Team Teach -ing daily, but I think I speak for many of us when I say that Team Teaching is challenging.

Differences in teaching styles, language barriers, differences in how we maintain discipline, the list of potential sources of conflict goes on. To make matters worse, teachers are usually shuffled or transferred once every year and that means we frequently have to start the process with someone new all over again.

As difficult as Team Teaching can be though, I believe we all have our own methods to ensure that we Team Teach effectively. Different strokes for different folks, as they say. So I have no intention of writing a post about what I think is the “best” way to approach Team Teaching.

That being said, I think we can all agree when I say that communication and planning are two important contributing factors to effective Team Teaching. But communication and planning can be tricky, because some of us don’t have a high enough level of Japanese to properly convey our thoughts to our colleagues. So in this post, I’m going to share a couple of tips I’ve learnt from some of my seniors over the years that have really helped me circumvent the issue of language barriers and hopefully, you’ll find them helpful too.

Tip 1: Draw it out

Got an idea for a fun activity that you want to try out but can’t explain it to your colleagues because of your limited Japanese? Grab some writing materials and draw it out for your HRTs/JTEs. Think sports analysts with their touch panels, circles and arrows. It’s not foolproof but it does make explaining how or where you want your students to move easier. On a side note, it is also useful when explaining the acitivity to the students, if you want to avoid having the HRT/JTE use any Japanese during lessons.

Tip 2:  Watch sample lessons together

For those who didn’t know, there are actually quite a few videos of sample lessons (or demo lessons) uploaded onto Youtube. Aside from being a convenient source of ideas and/or a “template” you can model your own lesons on, it can be helpful to have your HRTs/JTEs watch the video(s) so they understand how you want the lesson or activity to go. Admittedly, it can be time-consuming to first find a “usable” video and then to watch it with your HRTs/JTEs. Some of us don’t have that luxury, but if you’ve got time, it might be worth giving it a shot.

And that’s it. Two very simple tips to aid you when it comes to communicating and planning without any/much Japanese. They’re not perfect solutions but I hope they complement whatever methods you are currently using and if there’s a chance to do so, I look forward to hearing and learning from everyone else!