Co-teachers: Erin Keeling and Aaron Gapasin
As a fourth year humanities teacher, Aaron Gapasin serves in a unique role as a cooperating teacher for a second year in the Teach Oregon Co-teaching model. During his time as a teacher candidate, Aaron participated in the introductory year of George Fox University’s co-teaching pilot program. Christine Richardson served as his cooperating teacher in Green School at Newberg High School where five other co-teaching partners served students.
Reflecting on his time as a teacher candidate in the co-teaching program, Aaron says the benefits far outweigh the negatives. “I learned along the way, instead of totally crashing and completely ruining something. I was able to catch myself more often and get more meaningful feedback regularly to improve my practice. However, the overwhelming sense of responsibility at the beginning of the year to keep students until the end of the year is something you can’t completely experience until you actually start teaching.”
Looking to his experience as a cooperating teacher, Aaron recognizes the give and take balance in co-teaching having lived both sides after collaborating with a teacher candidate last year as well. “I’m not just stepping out of the classroom and checking back in a few weeks, but we get to try it in a few doses. I’ll try something and get feedback from her and then I can step away and let Erin try things and process with her.”
Teacher candidate Erin Keeling agrees. “Overall it’s been a really great experience. It provides the levels of scaffolding I need to be able to watch him, learn from him, to build confidence in my teaching. It is challenging, overwhelming, but overall it’s been a very enlightening experience.”
Thinking about this year, Aaron recognizes that he was nervous to take on a teacher candidate last year because it was only his third year teaching. This year, Aaron was nervous about taking on a teacher candidate because he had a grade level change, transitioning from Newberg High School to Chehalem Valley Middle School. However, Aaron knows “Without a doubt, this has proven beneficial for me and for my students. You have to get over the vulnerability of someone else coming into the classroom and know this works.” Erin recognizes she brings a contribution as well as a teacher candidate. “Teacher candidates have different points of view and professional development that we can bring to our teachers.”
Both Aaron and Erin are grateful for this experience of co-teaching and are excited to continue their work into second semester as students begin their fresh start with a double dose of teaching power.