Monday, April 13, 2009

Is there an answer out there?

Collaboration! Is it possible to truly collaborate on absolutely everything we do? Is there a place for it or should it be a part of everything we hope to achieve? I am not talking about collaborating within your grade level team. I am talking about reaching wider than that. Parents, other teachers, outside experts, and on-line. Bringing in an authentic audience that will make significant contributions, contributions that you may not be able to provide. Is there an ideal class setting out there that paints a landscape rich and full of resourceful people that are drawn together through their skills, talent and/or knowledge? Teaching is challenging. We do what we can with what we have. Each day brings new challenges that pull us away from teaching and learning and demand that we solve these challenges delicately like walking a fragile tight rope. Sometimes I ask myself, is my school right for me? Am I right for my school? There is only one way to find out I guess.

As teachers we are always learning. Making deliberate choices about the things we can achieve and being able to prioritize. Everything that we do MUST come back to why we are where we are - the students. The students who make what we do worth going every day. We as a teaching team try and make everything about the students and I think we do a great job at creating a community of learners; however collaboration is essential when your goal is to maximize the student's learning experience. I believe that integration is the key to success. Being able to look for natural links and bringing learning experiences together. If we can integrate effectively and free us up from all the other "stuff" that happens then we can place more attention and focus on bringing in the outside community. At times it seems that teachers are so busy within their cocoons time just passes by and with that so does the opportunities. The opportunities to see what others are doing. Looking at openings where you to can give back and show excitement about what they are up to. If only it was that easy.


  1. I have been thinking about the same over the last week. Sometimes you do feel like a caterpilar inside a cocoon working in your classroom. I sometimes want just to talk to other teachers about what we are doing and how it is going.
    I've noticed though that talking about work is not necessarily appreciated. Like, come on,
    get a life! But this IS my life that I live most hours a day! It doesn't feel like a chore to me, I want to do it right knowing there are enthusiastic teachers out there.
    Don't get me wrong though I AM interested in other things outside school too. :)

    April 19, 2009 8:51 PM

  2. Hi Zulia,

    We should be allowed to be excited or frustrated about what we do, and to talk openly about it. You're right though, those conversations have become stigmatized. Talking "shop" is a dirty thing!

    I have worked in a school in which conversations about pedagogy were celebrated and were heard happening all the time. I think this atmosphere was brought about by two factors:

    The first one was the large amount of regular in-school professional development we had. This provoked those conversations and brought us together as a staff, giving us the confidence to want to talk about our teaching more.

    The second factor was the "interestingness" of life outside of school. This was in Bangladesh, and everyday we all had fascinating stories about life to share over a coffee. That meant that we didn't need to waste our energy, and alienate people, by bitching about work or by moaning about kids or by talking too much about teaching all the time. The "school-based" conversations were positive, reflective and constructive.

    It's a delicate balance and it doesn't happen often. The fact is, however, if we don't celebrate pedagogical conversations in our schools, our teaching will become stale.