In a previous post, "Science and Mathematics Education: What Is the Current Situation?" I mentioned the following: "I have a friend who grew up in Singapore and one major complaint I heard from this person regarding education in the United States is the general lack of subject teachers. Teachers in US schools are assigned to teach an assortment of subjects while in Singapore, apparently, there is a math teacher, a science teacher, a reading teacher even in primary grades." It is assumed that subject teachers are experts on the subject they are assigned to teach.
Subject matter experts, of course, are not necessarily more effective teachers especially in an elementary school. One can not pluck a chemistry professor from a PhD granting institution and expect that person to be a stellar teacher of science in a primary school. A practicing scientists often has difficulty in fact in relating their work with non scientists. There is subject expertise, but for basic education, pedagogical expertise is likewise required. Expertise in a subject taught in primary schools is perhaps so much more than just knowing the material. The least it requires is being familiar with challenges and struggles primary school children face inside the classroom.
Team Teaching in Second Grade
"The key ideas here are really TRUST and COMMUNICATION. I absolutely trust my co-teacher. We also talk DAILY about certain kids. We note behavior patterns between the two classes and we keep each other informed if someone is struggling."Singapore basic education does place high in international ranking. Without doubt, this is partly due to effective teaching. Subject teaching is perhaps one reason behind effective teaching. One needs to be careful, however, in copying something. One may successfully copy the "subject" part but neglect the "team" and "partner". When this happens, what usually succeeds in one place does not appear transferable. It is due to transferring only one thing and not the whole.