As teachers we often need to collaborate with… guess who? Other teachers! And just because we all have the same title doesn’t mean we come from the same perspective, subscribe to the same techniques, or have similar methodologies. There is some finesse required here as well. It is critical to maintain a good working relationship with your colleagues regardless of your opinions of their teaching methods. You still need to work together. Some readers gave some great advice on this topic.
One reader discusses her experiences collaborating in an inclusion setting. I bet a lot of us do this on a regular basis. I love their weekly planning meetings! This is how inclusion is meant to be set up!
I am the special educator in a 1st grade inclusive classroom (integrated classroom). There are 4 adults in our room: reg ed teacher, 2 teacher assistants & me. We are all full-time in our classroom.
Collaboration: The classroom teacher & I plan on Thursdays for the following week. We plan not only the content that will be taught, but more importantly, what students need to be successful. If there are materials that need to be modified – how best to modify – staff needs, etc.
The 4 adults in our room reflect daily on what worked/didn’t work/what materials are needed by students (Boardmaker), etc. Our team collaborates at our team meetings that include the 4 of us plus OT, PT, speech & sometimes the school psychologist. In the beginning of the school year we spend our time focusing in on 1 child each meeting, dissecting his day, if there are behaviors – what do we need to do before the behaviors, etc. OT helps us to add appropriate sensory activities into a schedule We discuss support needs, fading support, etc.
Another teacher discussed one area of collaboration that a lot of us face – how to provide helpful suggestions to teachers with less experience than you. These are really great points. I remember my first year of teaching attending a training that was so jam packed with information I almost left in tears. Whenever I talk to new teachers now the first thing out of my mouth is – start small.
The Sped Dept in my school met with me and one of my paras to give suggestions to help us out with the problems we were facing in the room. The more experienced teachers were throwing out suggestion after suggestion for several weeks. The paras and I were so overwhelmed that we couldn’t think straight. We finally said to give us a few suggestions at a time and to give us time to implement them.
My suggestion is to give a few pieces of advice at a time or to give one topic and let others comment on it, like a weekly blog.
I didn’t like being compared to another teacher but I did like it when another teacher understood what I was dealing with.
I also think it is a great point to recognize that all of us what a little empathy and understanding but we don’t want to be put down. There is nothing more frustrating in the world than busting your butt each and every day at work just to have someone else barge in and tell you how they could do it so much better. When collaborating with other teachers, be sensitive to this. Compliment them. Remember – positive reinforcement (do we see a reoccurring theme here?).
Any other significant teacher collaboration relationships or tips??