In most cases primary teachers are self-contained. In most schools there are more than one homeroom class per grade level. I have taught three different grade levels. In tow, I was a self-contained teacher. In the other grade level, I taught semi-departmentalized.
In the first self-contained teaching environment I was in I was basically on my own. I planned the units and teaching how I desired. I made my own copies for my classroom and worried little about what the other teachers in my grade level were doing. On occasion we would share good ideas with each other. However, we never formally planned our lessons together.
In my second self-contained teaching experience, it was the opposite. We planned together on a weekly basis. We covered the same material during the same week. We made copies for the entire group and used the same materials.
So which way is better? Should teachers in the same grade level work together or independently? For me, there are pros and cons to each situation.
Working together is positive support. This is especially important if there are new teachers in the group. I would have loved to have someone feed me ideas during my first years of teaching. When working together, more ideas can be generated. Even though all of the teachers may be veteran teachers, more bodies means more brainpower.
Working as group can also have its disadvantages. My style of teaching may not necessarily correspond with the other teachers’ styles. For example, I do not use many worksheets. I also am not known for following straight out of a textbook. My teaching is more student need directed and free spirited. Therefore when working with teachers that have a more structured order of planning from text, I can be stuck in a difficult place. Copies are made for me when I do not use them. I must make it known what I desire and what I do not desire to be made for me.
However, I believe that when weighing the options, having a group to fall back on is much more preferred than standing on your own.