As mentioned in an earlier post, I’ve been taking an ed psych class for the past month. One of the unexpected positive consequences of it has been the collaborative problem-solving time I’ve had to spend with colleagues in my school. As I’ve worked on collecting data and developing a functional behaviour assessment and positive behaviour support plan to help a student who is not in my classroom, I’ve had the privilege of observing the teachers who work with her on a daily basis. I love seeing how different people approach situations and topics, the cues they give, their mannerisms, hearing their comments and explanations, and watching how the whole package they bring to teaching works. I can’t express how much these short observations during the past three weeks have tweaked my own practice.
And then, as serendipity would have it, two stories about the value and power of teacher collaboration landed in my Twitter feed and mailbox for my Sunday reading pleasure. In “Tapping Teachers’ Intrinsic Motivation to Develop School Improvements” , Katrina Schwartz describes how team coaching among triads of teachers in a former school region in Melbourne, Australia was a large part of improving teaching and student achievement in that region. In A. J. Juliani’s blog post for today, he comments that “we know teachers learn best from other teachers”, and offers a creative solution he has come up with to keep making that happen, in spite of how difficult it often seems to carve out teacher collaboration time.
Sharing and collaborating with colleagues is powerful professional development. And so I have questions for myself: How do I encourage it in my building? Do I make my classroom open and welcoming for colleagues to drop in? Am I able to accept coaching without taking it personally? Am I willing to give coaching in a way that the other person will hear the spirit of it? Can I be that leader, that change-maker?