"Nothing new that is really interesting comes without collaboration" James Watson, co-discoverer of DNA
While you might be a little disturbed by the double-negative, that statement resonates so nicely with me. Last weekend and this weekend alike, I am able to fill my own bucket by spending time with fellow educators/consultants/authors/lifelong learners. And I have to admit....I love it!
Collaboration is beneficial for so many reasons, and that is likely why we need to focus on improving and increasing this skill among ourselves and also among our students and teachers with whom we work. Imagine a world in which we are alone and we simply go about our day as an island. Hmmmm....many of my colleagues are likely thinking, "Ummm....Shelly, that is called teaching." Many teachers go into school, and after signing in, head to their rooms where they close the door and only exit to run to the restroom (if they are lucky) and to take the kids to lunch.
I suggest if teaching is like being on an island, we need to provide ferry service from one island to the next. In other words, we need to provide opportunities for teachers to collaborate and share ideas, just as we want them to do with their own students. When we are shocked by students sitting in rows as we enter a classroom, we have to realize that some schools operate the same way for teachers. No interaction, no chance for shared thinking, no collaboration.
So, how can we remedy this? PLCs (Professional Learning Communities) shouldn't just be a thing we say we do to check off some box for a district report. We need to gather together to talk about learning on an ongoing basis. If we don't take the time to share our thinking about student learning, we are likely to get what we have always gotten---single-minded, repeat performances in the classroom.
Another great opportunity is to have what we used to call Thinking Thursdays (but I've heard from many sources that other days of the week work just as great, too :) ). The idea behind Thinking Thursdays was for one teacher to invite teachers to his/her classroom after school. At that time, the teacher might share a fun new idea they have tried with some degree of success. For example, Shelley shared how she used hula-hoops to represent Venn Diagrams to her kids. Everyone shares thoughts on how they could use the same idea in their own teaching, asks Shelley questions, and even might share in a light snack.
The point is we need collaboration to continue to grow. What are your great ideas for collaboration with others? Please share them with me in the Comments section of my blog or via Twitter or Facebook. I am planning to do just that with fellow consultants this weekend, and I hope you are able to do the same.