In this section, Sanjoy Mahajan describes the culture of 6.01 Introduction to Electrical Engineering and Computer Science I and the ways in which it supports productive co-teaching endeavors.
Teaching 6.01 Introduction to Electrical Engineering and Computer Science I has made me more conscious of the fact that I love co-teaching. I enjoy collaborating with colleagues to solve teaching challenges—like the one we encountered with the resistor problem that I described in Formative Assessment during Design Labs. We routinely ask ourselves, “What is going wrong? How can we fix it? Let’s try this experiment. Okay, that didn’t work. What can we try next?” I learn so much more working with colleagues than I would alone.
The culture of 6.01 Introduction to Electrical Engineering and Computer Science I encourages these kinds of collaborative interactions. Generally, there are one or two new faculty members who join the teaching staff each semester. These faculty members are paired with instructors who have experience teaching the course. They’re not left to flounder or to reinvent the wheel. This helps everyone, including the established instructors, because the new faculty members often bring expertise in different areas that enhance how we teach the course.
This collaborative environment does not occur automatically in courses; rather, it’s the result of faculty members actively creating a culture that supports co-teaching. I want to give credit to Leslie Kaelbling, Jacob White, Harold Abelson, Dennis Freeman and Tomas Lozano-Perez, who were among the first faculty members to shape the culture of 6.01. I’m a latecomer to the course—and I’ve benefited tremendously from their efforts to create a positive and productive co-teaching environment.