May Teachers of the Issue: Jackie Stillion and Todd Parks

Jackie Stillion and Todd Parks are friends both in the classroom and away from school.

Jackie Stillion

Jackie Stillion and Todd Parks are friends both in the classroom and away from school.

Many imagine teaching as a one-man job with a single teacher in charge of their class and agenda.
For Todd Parks and Jackie Stillion, though, the job has become much more of a team experience through co-teaching.
“Co-teaching is when there are two qualified teachers in the same room delivering content in various ways to students who have different learning styles.” said Stillion.
Though it may be considered confusing having two different teachers in charge of the same class, the process provides a diverse learning experience for the students involved.
“I think co-teaching is more beneficial for the students, because one student may not understand one of us, and instead of them having to go on their own, it’s kind of like a wrestling match in the fact that I can tag her and she goes in and vice versa.” said Parks.
When it comes to co-teaching, a good relationship is vital to having a successful experience.
“I think we get along really well,” said Stillion. “You have to have a relationship with the person you’re teaching with or it doesn’t work. We knew each other socially before, and I think that has really helped.”
Communication and working in unison is an obstacle both teachers admit to having to overcome.
“For me, I’ve have to learn that she can’t read my mind,” said Parks. “Sometimes I’ll write something one way, or I’ll change something and not remember to tell her. Then, I’ll have to remind myself that she doesn’t have the key to my mind.”
Co-teaching has also allowed for various motivation tools to be introduced into the classroom, such as friendly competition.
“Sometimes it’s even a race against each other,” said Stillion. “Right now we’re doing research papers and I’ve got half and he’s got half. He told his group that we’re in a race against each other to see who gets what done first. He’ll say he has to buy me dinner if his team loses.”
Within the classroom, the day-to-day choice of instruction is in the hands of the teachers.
“Co-teaching has been around for a long time, there are just a lot of different styles,” said Stillion. “There is parallel teaching, which is two teachers at the same time, which is what we do. There’s also a type with one leading and one following. It changes day-to-day.”
The greatest reward for any teacher is seeing the progress of their students, and that isn’t any different for Parks and Stillion.
“I think we have a good rapport with the students, too,” said Parks. “For the most part we have a good relationship, though it can be like a drill sergeant class sometimes. We are able to show our students how they’ve improved. We did the star reading test, and they raised half a grade level in about two months.”