Perhaps the best place to start is with a description of what “interdisciplinary teaming” is. Each team at DPMS is comprised of the four core subjects, or disciplines. For example, Team Balder has a math, science, ELA, and social studies teacher, as do all of the other teams at DPMS. Teaming also works among the grade-levels, with all of the 6th grade subjects sharing a common preparation period in order to facilitate collaboration and planning efforts.
Teaming a not just a convenient arrangement for teachers and students; it’s a research-based best practice. The Association for Middle Level Education (AMLE) is an organization comprised of scholars that supports and publishes research relevant to improving the educational programming in middle schools throughout the United States and world. In a document AMLE published in 2010, the researchers concluded when schools employ “Effective interdisciplinary teams [it] lead to improved student achievement, increased parental contacts, an enhanced school climate, and positive attitudes (This We Believe, 2010, p. 31).
In keeping with our core values at Draper Park Middle School, we want to create an academically rigorous, meaningful, engaging, and positive experience for all students. Teaming is one of the systems we use to achieve that.
The biggest driving factor for Draper Park is student achievement. In an effort to ensure all students are successful, we believe our students must receive focused, high-quality tier-1 instruction and when that tier-1 instruction isn’t enough, they receive targeted interventions designed to help students reach mastery on core concepts. In our teaming system, core subject teachers work closely together to plan lessons, develop assessments, monitor student achievement data, and design effective interventions to help students who have not yet reached mastery.
Additionally, teachers who work in interdisciplinary teams have an opportunity to help support each student. It’s no secret that Draper Park is a huge school, with over 1,500 students. Teaming allows students to be grouped into smaller teams (usually between 160-175 students). With all four core teachers working with the same smaller group of students, teachers are able to better support students academically, behaviorally, and emotionally. Furthermore, with a decreased number of students, teachers are more empowered to create and maintain clear avenues of communication with families about a child’s performance at school. Middle school can be a difficult time for many children as they learn to navigate more rigorous classes with increased expectations and more complex social situations. DPMS aims to support all students by placing them on a team of teachers who can work closely with each individual to ensure they are reaching mastery on their lessons as well as thriving socially in middle school.