As part of a well-rounded education, Milton’s Lower School enjoys the talents of ten “specials” teachers in the following disciplines: Spanish, sustainability and gardening, science, library, music, performing arts, visual arts, physical education, technology, and woodshop and design thinking. Offered at different stages in the Lower School, specials give kids exposure to a new classroom, teacher, and subject matter. Rather than risk this robust program as Milton sought to limit movement across campus, the Lower School introduced co-teaching–a win for students and teachers.
This year, grade-level teachers are paired with a specials teacher for year-round instruction within their assigned classroom. The co-teaching model reduces movement on campus and increases the teacher-student ratio, allowing planning time for teachers without introducing additional adults to the group. “It’s resulted in seamless instruction,” design thinking and woodworking teacher Jenny Sorblom shares.
Jenny is paired with kindergarten teacher Martha Slocum; co-teaching is a new experience for them both. Jenny is amazed by the benefits.
“I love our classroom and the community we have created together by combining our skills, ideas, and teaching styles,” she shares. “As a teacher, it is beneficial to have another adult in the room to laugh with, bounce ideas off, and solve problems. The curriculum has been enhanced due to our partnership because working together has allowed us to put a new lens on content. Collaborating has helped us expand and grow the kindergarten curriculum in ways one teacher could not do alone. The children benefit from having two perspectives in the classroom and diversity in teaching styles.”
Teachers benefit, too. Jenny describes co-teaching as the best professional development experience she’s ever had, and that it’s made her a better teacher.
“The time spent in the classroom has allowed me to become very familiar with kindergarten students’ day-to-day experiences,” she shares. “Teaching subjects that I was less familiar with helped me understand the Lower School program more fully.”
Although Jenny leads the woodworking and design thinking program, she calls on her creativity to bring other specials’ instruction to the classroom. For example, kindergarteners usually go to the library twice a week. This year, she and Martha created “Author Study.” Students choose a children’s author and review one story each week, leading to rich discussions, critical thinking, and unexpected reads. Another example is in music. Although students can’t sing due to Covid, students have written songs and made their own instruments.
Lower School co-teaching is just one example of innovation at Milton supported by philanthropy.