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Oct 26, 2015

Teacher Collaboration Strategies

Strategies for Teacher Collaboration

Are you comfortable with trying new ideas in your classroom and embracing your team members teaching strategies?

Sometimes my teaching style and philosophy will differ with my team.
 As a young educator, I struggled to maintain my autonomy. My idea of collaboration was to share and listen (and then without realizing it) going back to the classroom and doing things my own way. When you are new, it’s difficult to collaborate; you’re just trying to keep your head above water!
As I mature in the profession, I have grown to realize that my way is not the only way, and that without collaboration and integration of EVERYONE’S skills, I am actually short-changing my students. 

So how do we collaborate, tap into everyone’s strengths, and still keep a sense of autonomy?
1.  Learn to listen: 
If you realize that you’re talking the most in the group, pause and take time to listen to what your colleagues are saying.  You already know what your own plans are so take the time to listen to someone else’s idea.

2.  Show examples:
If you are full of creative ideas, bring samples of your lessons with you.  Don’t leave your team guessing as to the specifics of your plan.

3.  Embrace your strengths:
Find your strengths and play to them.  If your skills include working with technology, then incorporate technology into the lessons you share.  If you are creative with worksheets and written activities, then embrace that angle too! 

4.  Acknowledge your weaknesses:
Know where you need help and be willing to ask.  No one has mastered every aspect of teaching!  We are human and we can depend on each other and lean on each other to help our students be successful.

5.  Tackle one project at a time:
If you are new to collaboration then start small.  You do not have to plan the whole year together on the first day.  Start with one project that your grade level or department agrees to do together; and stick to the plan!  You may feel outside of your comfort zone the first time, but you may soon look forward to collaboration.

6.  Even though you may try to resist it at all costs, team up with the person that is LEAST like you:
Find the strength in your differences.  Go outside your comfort zone and see what benefits may come from teaching a new way. Trust me, you’ll be amazed at how much you’ll accomplish when you step a little out of your comfort zone.

7.  Compare data and be data driven:
If your colleague’s class is having an easier time understanding a difficult standard, ask them how they taught that standard.  Then try to embrace the new way and go forward. 

8.  Put your pride aside:
Sometimes it’s tough to admit you need help or to realize that your way may not be the most productive or accurate.  We are driven, independent thinkers who love to see our positive impact on students.  In order for true collaboration we must be willing to put some of our ideas aside and pull together for the success of our students.
The expectation for collaboration in education will never disappear.  Gone are the days of closing your door and doing things your way without anyone questioning your methods. Thank goodness for that!!  We can also say gone are the days of struggling to come up with new ideas or a creative ways of teaching a difficult concept.  EMBRACE collaboration and watch your students succeed in ways you never thought possible!

“No matter how many years we have been teaching, we should feel a little bit like a rookie EVERY year by trying something new and not being afraid to fail.” – Heidi Pauer


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