Sharing ESL Classes

share-the-road1.jpgSharing classes – when two or more teachers switch off teaching the same group – has pros and cons. If you have a group for a long time, it means you won’t tire of each other as quickly, and you have longer to go before using up your stock of activities. If you’re a native speaker and your local colleague teaches the hard stuff (and you like this arrangement) then that’s a good combination. Perhaps most importantly, if there is a problem or problem student, you have someone else who has first hand experience with the group to discuss him with.

The cons are that it can be hard to develop continuity with giving and checking homework and such.

Teachers have different ideas of what they want, and especially if they keep different schedules (due to the times the school gets them to teach at), it is even harder to liaise. The other downside is that planning can take longer if you don’t estimate exactly how much you need. If I plan four activities based on the book and only get through three, if I am teaching alone, I just do the activity the next time – the planning time wasn’t wasted. But if I’m sharing the group, the next teacher does the activity and I have to plan something else for the next lesson. It might sound petty, but if you do your job and plan as a teacher, it makes a difference.

The last part is the hardest: different teaching styles. If I am going to do a fluency activity that requires the students to use past modals, I’m counting on the fact that the teacher before me has taught and practiced them. If not, I have a little scrambling to do. If I teach the class, I know if they got it or not. Of course revision is good either way – but it’s usually an advantage to be clear on where students are with grammar. The worst scenario in my experience is when the students have a test and you are paired with a teacher who doesn’t seem to care; s/he proceeds to do his or her own thing and you end up needing to stick to the book and do the boring stuff.

Do you mostly share classes or teach independently?