Welcome to the Illinois Transitions Blog

This blog provides a platform for resources to be shared and discussions to be engaged in by anyone providing transitioning services. The content of the blog is especially applicable to those involved in the Illinois Transitions Academy.

The Transitions Academy is designed to assist colleges and partnerships working on developing Bridge and ICAPS (Integrated Career and Academic Preparation System) programs by increasing awareness of the expanding partnership between Adult Education and Career and Technical Education as it relates to the ICAPS model, Accelerating Opportunity, Illinois Bridge programs, and Illinois Programs of Study. The Transitions Academy is designed to assist colleges and partnerships working on developing Bridge and ICAPS (Integrated Career and Academic Preparation System) programs.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Team Teaching Let's Talk....Heartland Commmunity College by Sarah Goldammer, SIPDC

From Starr Gobtop, Adult Education Instructor, Team Teacher, Heartland Community College

Tell us about the relationship you have with your team teacher.

We had a very positive relationship. Both of us have years of experience and were able to teach together quite well.  The ability to think on our feet in the classroom was a big help. When one of us was presenting the lesson, the other was able to focus on the students to see if any one needed extra help.

How do you work together on planning?

We met to go over the chapters that were coming up and decided which one of use would present the information. During the lesson, each of us would ask questions or clarify a statement or topic. The students seemed to be able to grasp the information a bit better.

How has each member enhanced the instruction?

Having 2 instructors in a classroom brings different ways to present the information to the students. When one teacher clarifies an idea, maybe stating it in a different way, students are able to understand the concept better.

How has each member aided the other member and the students in your program?

I learned a lot about the math topics that were covered in the class. With both of us, we were able to focus on those students who needed extra help in understanding the topics that were covered. The students got more one-on-one time with a teacher and that helped them understand and gain the knowledge that was needed.

What advice do you have for new teams of teachers?

Be patient and be willing to learn new ways of doing things.  Discuss strengths and weaknesses before and during the semester. Keep on talking with each other and challenging each other to be better.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Team Teaching... Let's Talk Kishwaukee Manufacturing Math by Sarah Goldammer, SIPDC

From Patti Wragg, Adult Education Instructor, Team Teacher ICAPS program, Kishwaukee College

Tell us about the relationship you have with your team teacher. I am working with a new teacher this year in a Manufacturing Math class. The teacher has taught this section as well as the next level up in Manufacturing Math for our college. In the classroom, I take notes that the instructor writes out on the board and prompt questions based on the book that may be instrumental in teaching a subject.  Also, I answer questions from students as they work independently.  I also support students who are taking this class, as well as finishing their High School Equivalency requirements in a recitation class that takes place after the team taught class. These students may ask questions about homework from this class and work on their GED preparation. 
How do you work together on planning?
I look through the syllabus and look ahead in the book to find areas that may be problematic with students. This allows me to prepare some posed questions that may be asked in the classroom. It also helps me to find questions that I may have on a particular skill or subject. I usually talk to the teacher through email to find out if there is anything he needs for class time.

What does the CTE instructor bring to the table?
We are fortunate this year to have a teacher with over 30 years experience in the field of manufacturing, particularly engineering parts and designing parts.  He basically uses every type of math that you can imagine and is able to bring real life examples into the classroom. He is allowed to bring old blueprints (blackened out parts) to class to read and do activities that relate to our class topic.  It is a great opportunity for our students to be able to see what is necessary for a job in the future and see that the questions are valid in their daily work. He is also able to show how the students can make good decisions and whether a job is worthy of pursuing. He has connections to industry and is able to get field trips to plants around our area. That is a wonderful opportunity for these students.

What does the AE instructor bring to the table?
The Adult Education instructor has the benefit of knowing the students and their learning styles. Not all instructors mesh well with students. So, an Adult Education instructor is able to bring a different way of presenting the same material based on individual needs. Having two people to approach with questions allows more needs to be met for these students. The AE instructor has opportunities to bring up a different way of saying the same thing based on how interpretations are made about a subject. For example, I learned how to add mixed numbers one way; the CTE teach another. So, I brought it up and we were able to collaborate. This gave more understanding to some students. We all want students to be able to get needs met so having another instructor in the classroom has a great benefit.

How has each member enhanced the instruction?
Personal experiences and years of instruction have both impacted the way we teach now. I am sure the CTE instructor has thrown out some of the old techniques of how to go about solving problems and found more efficient ways to do that same thing by his personal experiences in the classroom and the field. The AE instructor has insight as to how students learn and is able to foresee some of the questions and problems that typically happen when solving problems of a certain nature. 
How has each member aided the other member and the students in your program?
Sometimes an instructor loses the train of thought, and most likely the other instructor can pick up where he/she left off and help clarify the problem. Also, the AE instructor is not afraid to ask questions about a problem even if the students stay silent. Hopefully, this is a benefit to keeping the students on track. We also can tell if a mistake has been made or an answer doesn’t make sense when solving a problem.

What advice do you have for new teams of teachers?
I recommend that both teachers meet before the class begins. You want to go into a classroom with confidence that the teacher knows who you are. Be open to communication by email, as most CTE instructors work other jobs or are adjunct faculty. Make the most of the fact that field experience is by far a better teacher than just a book. We all learn differently so students may relate better to one instructor over the other. If you are given opportunities to present materials or lessons to the class, make sure you ask the CTE teacher to look over your presentation. You want to cover material in the proper manner. Take criticism as a learning tool.  Most adjunct faculty members are so happy to have another person to help, and they are willing to answer any questions that you have on subjects.  Team teaching doesn’t always look the same in every classroom. Find what works best for your team. It may be that you are in the background more often than not.  That does not mean you are not integral to the team experience. 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Team Teaching: Let's Talk Kishwaukee... By Sarah Goldammer, SIPDC

From Tricia D. Wagner, Director, Adult Education, Kishwaukee College
 There is a great deal that can be done from a professional development perspective to cultivate skills within instructional staff members, to equip them with resources, and to assist them in understanding instructional strategies that promote effectiveness in a team-teaching setting. However, a lot of the success in team teaching depends on the characteristics and attitudes that the instructors bring with them into the project in the beginning. I have been lucky to have the opportunity to work with adult education and CTE instructional staffs that are gifted in ways that make them great team teachers, and here is what I have learned from them:
Attitude is everything. Teachers instructing together in a team have to be willing to work this way, and it is even better if they are excited about it. Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, says that for effectiveness you have to “get the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats.” Team teaching won’t work if your teachers don’t want to be on the bus or would rather not sit together. Teaching is a relationship-dependent occupation, and the teachers working together have to be as capable at brewing chemistry between them as they are at creating chemistry in the classroom.  One of our challenges, of course, is that we don’t always have the luxury of doing a wide, long search to look for the perfect pairing; in many cases, the participating instructors are determined by the nature of the integrated pathway, and also perhaps by scheduling constraints. This is where attitude comes into the picture. Instructors who can approach ICAPS instructional activities with interest and enthusiasm will be more likely to be able to see the road in front of them clearly when the storms come. 

How has team teaching enhanced instruction within the adult education program at Kishwaukee?

Understanding is everything, too.  ICAPS, with its team teaching approach, has given us the opportunity to work across disciplines from multiple viewpoints, including administration, instruction, curriculum, support, and advising. This is valuable. Integrated pathways programming allows adult educators and leaders in the field of adult learning to gain a truer understanding of the scope of the community college. We are getting to peek behind the curtain of “postsecondary education,” which is in danger of living only on a shelf in our offices, veiled, as an abstraction. The understanding we are gaining from rubbing shoulders, closely, with administrators, teachers, advisors, and students in career pathways programs is serving to illuminate the something on that shelf, revealing to us what postsecondary education actually looks like. By studying this through working to develop and improve our ICAPS program, we are growing in our understanding of what students need to know, and what skills they need to develop, to be successful when they make the transition to college. This strategy of functioning across disciplines, of building networks of relationships all over the college and throughout the community, linking with partners and other educators and employers, is our new normal in adult education. This is a great new normal to deal with. Although the water feels rough sometimes, its current is strengthening us, making us better aware of the advantages we can provide to our students by being well-connected and maintaining a strong knowledge base about postsecondary education and transition.     
What advice do you have for administrators working with team teachers?

And Communication is also everything.  A challenge that everybody struggles with, whether an administrator, a faculty member, an advisor, or a coordinator, is grappling with the complexity inherent with a new program. The ICAPS program has many intricacies, and it is important that those in the leadership roles acknowledge this and make sure that the bases are covered in educating everyone involved about the program, providing extra clarification and detail with the parts that are most relevant to each individual. As everybody has a thousand things on their plates, naming a designee to communicate is called for. A common pitfall in implementing something new lies in assuming that everyone understands what is going on, or has been filled in on details, or changes, by somebody else. Going through the exercise of providing regular check-ins can keep team teachers and other partners on the bus, helping them to be adventuresome travelers with a roadmap in their hands, confident in their knowledge that we are going somewhere.   

Monday, February 16, 2015