Public gets scoop on team-teaching concept to be used in new 3-8 building

North Ridgeville

By Michael Fitzpatrick

The public got a crash course on team teaching during a recent board of education meeting and learned the basics of the way education will be delivered to students next year in the North Ridgeville Academic Center (NRAC).

The NRAC is the official name of the new grades 3-8 building set to open in the fall of 2018. Students in
that building will be taught using a team-teaching method the district has been implemented over the past three years.

The method replaces the traditional lecture method of teaching that so many of us experienced and replaces it with a more synergistic, tailored method that emphasizes the individual learning style of the student.

Greg Plantner, the current principal at Liberty Elementary, gave the presentation at a March 21 board of education meeting, and supported his talk with a PowerPoint presentation.

Plantner will be the principal for the third- and fourth-graders in the new building, while Lee Armbruster will be the principal for the fifth- and sixth-graders and Amy Peck, the current middle school principal, will lead the seventh- and eighth-graders.

The district began implementing team teaching shortly after it was decided the new school would feature learning studios that allow for a lot of flexibility in the actual learning environment. That allows for students to work in smaller groups and work in a more collaborative manner and solve problems as a group, which are two 21st-century skills students of today must master.

Plantner said he looks at the new building as more of a house. When at home and you want to cook, you’ll go to the kitchen. In the new building, if you want to work on technology, you’ll go to a technology lab; if you want to do an art project, you’ll go to an area of the building that has sinks and rubber floors so art projects can be completed without worrying about the mess.

“I feel the new building is very task-oriented,” said Plantner.

In the new learning studio concept, approximately 100 students will be assigned to approximately six to eight teachers, and they’ll operate out of one of the learning studios, which are the equivalent of four regular-sized schoolrooms, as well as two smaller breakout meeting rooms, and a large common area, that features a small stage where larger lectures or presentations can be held.

“It maximizes our staff resources, the expertise of teachers and physical space to benefit our students in the best way possible,” Plantner said of the team teaching.

Plantner’s current school – Liberty – has been experimenting with team teaching for three years. It was voluntary the first year, and the past two years all the building’s third-grade classes have been taught using a team-teaching model, as have some second-grade classes.

As part of the presentation, Plantner showed a video of a third-grade class being taught in a team-teaching method.

Plantner emphasized in his talk that team teaching does not lead to a chaotic classroom.

“It creates great opportunities to plan activities that match students’ learning styles and other strengths while also offering multiple teaching styles,” Plantner said.

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