Some ‘Co-‘ Thoughts

We often hear these words nowadays: connection, collaboration, cooperation. In ELT, there are also Co-Teaching, Co-Training, Co-Presenting (and many more!)

A quick search shows that ‘CO’ as a prefix can productively form new words (verbs, nouns, adjectives) from bases beginning with any sound. The meaning can be summarized as:

  1. together, joint(ly), mutual(ly)
  2. indicating partnership or equality
  3. to the same or similar degree

Interesting that ‘in modern mathematics, “co-” is very often taken to mean something like “dual” or “opposite” or “reverse“. [Quote from this post]

Being far from understanding mathematics, I find it amazing how the meaning of specialized terms changes from field to field. I am curious if ‘the reverse’ is a part of ‘thinking together’, discussing alternatives and tossing ideas. I don’t remember the source or author of this that ‘if two people running a business together agree with each other all the time, one of them is unneeded’. My favorite question from non-ELT reading on strategic planning is ‘Would anyone do the opposite of what I am doing?’ and answering it in a team feels so much easier and more productive.

I have had a lot of experience running an intensive teacher training course ‘solo’. More than that, the experience of managing (administering) a course and running it on my own. It might feel overwhelming if you have never done it before (no-one to share a tip or session materials, no-one to talk to about a difficult question a participant asked, or to re-assure you that the session in the afternoon was ‘okay’, and only your workshops and examples of teaching ‘in the real time’ are what the participants get to see) On the other hand, you don’t spend time for planning conversations and discussions (and those can take a loooong time in a team of trainers!)

I love co-training: you learn so much, and this learning spreads larger and further than the course itself. The reflective conversations sometimes go far into the night and/or over the whole day off and can be absolutely eye-opening and inspiring. New friendships start and last. I can confidently say that I have learned a lot from each professional I have been lucky to work with, and am looking forward to what new meetings this summer brings.

Finally, it seems to me that the prefix ‘CO-‘ has a potential to save us from the notorious teacher burnout and strengthen our mental health (both are very popular topics these days)

  • Have you ever co-trained or co-taught? Co-presented or co-authored?
  • [If yes, how did it feel? If no, would you like to try, and why (not)?]
  • What are your favorite ‘co-‘ tips?

Image credit: taken by Tana Ebaugh in Daegu, South Korea, in 2013. So happy and fortunate to be co-presenting with Tana on May 12 at InnovateELT in Barcelona. 

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