Depending on the school district it can be truly a team effort. I teach in a district where this is not the case. I would love to work on cross curricular units with other teachers, but during my 10 years of teaching in three different school systems no one has been willing. I don't know, maybe they're insecure to let other teachers in on what they're doing. Maybe they're thinking it will take more preparation. Maybe they've just been teaching so long that new dogs and new tricks aren't appealing.
I have worked at schools where teacher collaboration was expected, and I have worked at schools where every teacher is an island. I have had parents that were very much involved in their children's education and I have had parents that were all but invisible. Either way, for five hours a day, I am alone in that classroom with my my students. But we we work together, share ideas, and learn from each other. We are the team, my students and I.
It really depends in many ways on the school. As others have mentioned, in some environments teachers are given time and opportunity to work together, create lessons that are tied in to each other, and in other places you are expected to do that but don't always have the opportunity to implement it. In our school, some grades work harder to try and integrate History and English for example while others may not be able to do it because students are on very different tracks by that point.
If you are asking about teaching a student as a more general idea, I think it is always a team effort. It is a collaboration of the teachers, the student's family, and any other people including friends and perhaps even enemies that influence the child.
Teaching is anything but an individual effort. Even the best teacher in the school is at the mercy of what other teachers are also doing, when it comes to educating a child. We are either helping each other or hurting each other. A school is much like a small town. It has its own system of politics, rules (laws), justice, and active vs. inactive citizens.
I suppose any small town can get away with lax rule enforcement as long as the town remains fairly small and undiverse. But as towns grow, diversity grows, and when diversity grows, conflict grows. It takes everyone working together to teach tolerance and promote safety.
Schools whose teachers and administrators are not bought into the idea that teaching is completely a team effort sacrifice safety - physical as well as emotional, for students and teachers.
I think it is both. Teachers need to be able to be a part of a team. Collaboration is very important and teachers who can collaborate efficiently are very effective teachers. It is nice when teachers can sit down together and talk about what has worked for them and what has not.
I think if we are talking about new teachers then team work is incredibly important. Many schools participate in mentoring programs now. This is when a first or second year teacher is assigned a veteran teacher. The new teacher can go to the experienced teacher with questions, advice, or just to vent.
Teachers also needs many personal strengths as well. A good teacher is able to concentrate, focus, take charge, and get things done.
I think that the previous thoughts were accurate. Individual experience will reveal many different answers to such a question. Yet, I do believe that if the question is geared to understanding the dimensions of a teacher starting out, I think it is for the best for the process to involve as many people as possible. One of the most challenging elements I have seen with new teachers is the isolating feeling that happens when one is immersed in their own classroom, responsible for instruction, classroom management, and ensuring a quality learning experience for each student is present. Balancing these demands are challenging enough, but then battling the demands of administrators and other stakeholders can be very intense. To be able to integrate as many people in this process helps to provide perspective, better understanding of situations that might be new, and helps to bring solidarity to a starting teacher's predicament.
The teaching profession has recently undergone a philosophy of practice called Professional Learning Communities. Teachers are still learning, just like kids. As teachers get together who teach the same things, they compare notes and trade ideas. Where one finds success and others found disappointment, the others choose to change their methods to the original one's idea. This is called collaboration.
It is a great idea, but teachers are no different than any other people, some of us are nerds, some preppy, some are like jocks, and some a little emo. It's hard to work with other people and all end up on the same page. We do the best we can, but the truth is that as soon as the bell rings and that door is shut, quite often a teacher's persona takes front and center stage and does things the same way they have always done.
I think that teaching can be a team thing or it can be individual, depending on your own particular circumstance.
I, for example, have rarely been any part of a team. When I taught high school, I was in a very small school where I have been the only social studies teacher in the grades that I teach (usually 11th and 12th). Because of that, I did not have to collaborate with much of anyone. I think it would have been nice if I could have collaborated more with the English teachers, for example, but it did not happen.
Colleauges who teach in lower grades or in bigger schools generally do a lot more team work.
Teamwork is essential to the success of a school. As an individual teacher - we are only one set of great ideas and opinions. When we work collaboratively with others, those great ideas and opinions are multiplied many times over for the good of our students. Many teams divide up the lesson plans and simply share activities. The problem arises when a teacher simply does the activity without having the stimulating conversations that incorporate the true value of the activity to the student. An activity is just an activity unless the true essence of it is conveyed to the students participating. In actuality, the student should be able to discover the learning goals through their inquiry of the activity, which is guided by the teacher. If the teacher hasn't conversed with other teachers about the activity beforehand, the student is short-changed in the guidance they receive. This is especially true in classrooms where project based learning is incorporated or in which inquiry is the major focus. Teachers need each other! Students benefit the most when mature, highly educated adults come together to collaborate on how to best meet the needs of our most prized possessions - the students themselves!