Many individuals consider interdisciplinary team organization an important organizational element in middle schools. An interdisciplinary team consists of a group of students and teachers. Teachers in these interdisciplinary teams represent different curriculum disciplines such as sciences, arts, social studies, special education, and languages among others.
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When attending to the students, these teachers share the same space, schedule, and platform (Poldizik and George 1). Overall, organizations of interdisciplinary teams allow teachers to share the responsibility of planning, teaching, instructing, and evaluating the curriculum in more than one academic sphere at the same time.
Middle schools need to allocate time for Interdisciplinary teams. This is because the interdisciplinary teams are important in the teaching-learning process. These teams encourage a collaborative and supportive learning environment for students. These teams provide learners with a sense of belonging and support. The teams increase students’ sense of membership and eliminate the feeling of alienation.
Students of middle school are teenagers. These teenagers highly regard the opinion of their peers. In addition, they constantly seek acceptance and approval from adults. School set-ups have large populations with disjointed instruction systems that are subject-centered.
These set-ups often neglect social needs of teenagers. Students need set-ups that cater for both their individual and social needs. Therefore, interdisciplinary teams are important as they change the disjointed instructional process to one that is jointed. This helps in addressing social needs of these teenagers (Wormeli 138).
Interdisciplinary teams promote social bonding as they consist of groups of teachers and students. Learners value their peers’ opinion and strive to gain acceptance from their peers.
This acts as a motivation for the learners. Creating interdisciplinary teams increases academic performance, peer relations, and individual students’ image. Consequently, this positively influences performance of individual students, teachers, and schools as a whole.
Teachers are responsible for ensuring good planning and organization of interdisciplinary functioning for effective functioning. They should organize teams that meet the cognitive and social requirements of the learners. Teachers organize these teams according to grade levels. However, teachers also use multiage and looping in carrying out the proposed activities.
In multiage, teachers combine students from different grades and use peer-learning methods to pass content to the younger students. On the other hand, looping method involves forming groups of teachers and students who stay together for several years. For example, teachers move to the next level together with their students. Looping is essential as teachers establish strengths, weaknesses, and needs of their students.
This helps the teachers to provide motivation to their students. Consequently, it improves performance of the teachers and students. Teachers should consider team sizes, activities, and time allocation. This ensures that the teams are effective (Wallace 3).
Middle schools can use interdisciplinary teams at any time of the instructional process. These teams must have at least three teachers from different disciplines for them to function. These teachers should identify needs of the students and their prior learning experiences. The teachers should then select the learning objectives, goals, topics, evaluation methods, resources, and curriculum.
Additionally, teachers should assign groups to the students. When assigning groups, teachers should consider grade, compatibility, and team size. Further, they should develop a sequence of activities.
After this, the teachers should guide the students in carrying out the planned activities throughout the proposed period. After the learning period, teachers should then assess the students and evaluate the effectiveness of the interdisciplinary teams.
Although these interdisciplinary teams are effective, they face several challenges. The major challenge is the quality and quantity of performance of these teams. In addition, these teams in their bid to address social needs of learners sideline the individual needs of students.
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Further, teachers use a lot of time organizing interdisciplinary teams. This suffocates their individual planning time and leads to reduced concentration. Overall, these challenges damage the performance of individual students, teachers, interdisciplinary teams, and schools as a whole.
Teams can overcome potential challenges in their ability to plan instruction by monitoring the activities of the teams. Teachers should ensure that team sizes are manageable. The groups should be big enough to help the teachers attend to all individual students. In addition, the teachers should ensure that the groups consist of compatible individuals. This will eliminate inconveniences and increase social learning.
It will also help in developing team identity and increase efficiency. In addition, teachers should always be flexible when planning the interdisciplinary teams. When planning and organizing the teams, teachers should accommodate learners’ ideas to ensure efficiency. Finally, the teachers should consider the goals and objectives of the teams to ensure smooth functioning of these interdisciplinary teams.
Interdisciplinary teams are important to the teaching and learning process. They are effective for instruction in middle school because most students are teenagers. These teenagers need acceptance and motivation from peers and adults to feel more secure.
Through interdisciplinary teams, these teenagers learn more efficiently. However, these teams face challenges in planning and implementation. Therefore, close monitoring is essential to ensure that the teams function effectively in the instructional process.
Poldizik, Kevin and Paul George. “Interdisciplinary Team Organisation.” Middle School Journal 20.5 (1989): 1. Print.
Wallace, John. “Effects of Interdisciplinary Teaching Team Configuration upon the Social Bonding of Middle School Students.” RMLE Online 30.5 (2007): 1-18. Print.
Wormeli, Rick. Meet Me in the Middle: Becoming an Accomplished Middle Level Teacher. Portland, ME: Stenhouse Publishers, 2001. Print.