Maximize the Impact of Teacher Collaboration
People, Priorities, and Planning
This post is part of a series titled “Teacher Perspectives” by Lily Jones. You can read all of Lily’s posts here.
- Help Students Make Real-World Connections: Bring School to Life Through Project-Based Learning
- Differentiate Instruction with Strategies Aligned to Universal Design for Learning
Teaching is an all-encompassing job. The job of a teacher is truly never done, but it can be made easier by collaborating with colleagues. As the new year starts, you can follow these three recommendations for making the most out of collaboration time:
1) Find People, Find Time
The easiest people to collaborate with are members of your grade level or subject area team. But that doesn’t always have to be the case! The best people to collaborate with are the people who are excited to work with you. If teachers are not motivated to collaborate, don’t push it. Find someone to work with who will match your energy; together you will come up with electric ideas.
Hopefully, your school gives you designated time to collaborate. I know that time varies — I’ve worked at schools where I got 30 minutes a week of collaboration time and at schools where I got four hours. If you don’t get designated collaboration time, make time. It may not seem appealing to stay after school, but it’s well worth it when that collaboration makes your job easier.
2) Tackle the Tasks That Matter Most
After you’ve found the time, how do you make the most of it? Start with the tasks that require deep thinking and/or with things that are puzzling you. Putting heads together can make daunting tasks seem easier.
If you’re trying to figure out an effective way to teach a standard, explore Goalbook Pathways with your colleagues. Pick ELA or Math, then browse the standards for your grade level or investigate particularly challenging standards. In Pathways, each standard is scaffolded into model classroom objectives in increasing levels of rigor. Looking at the different levels of rigor can help you get a deeper understanding of the standard. Sometimes the best way to increase understanding is to dive in and explore.
3) Plan, Plan, Plan!
It’s amazing how big an impact teacher collaboration can have on students. Students learn in all different ways, and so do teachers! When teachers come together to plan, the lessons they come up with are more varied and thus accessible to a wider variety of students. More teachers’ brains = better lessons for more students’ brains.
If you’re looking for ways to differentiate lessons for your particular students, try Goalbook’s UDL Strategy Wizard. Just reading about the different possibilities can help spark ideas. Work with your colleagues to adapt and identify differentiation strategies that work for your students.
As you settle into the new year, it can be tempting to just go, go, go. However, taking time to think deeply and collaborate with colleagues can recharge you, giving you the energy and techniques you need to sail smoothly through the year.