Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Teacher Collaboration

In one of my classes, we talked about teacher collaboration today.  In one of the articles, it discussed how teacher collaboration is hard to incorporate into schools because it takes time away from teaching and other more important things that teachers must do (ex: reading the latest teaching techniques and figuring out how to implement them to one's teaching). 

I found this point to be very interesting.  First, I believe that teacher collaboration is very important.  I think teachers should collaborate both with teachers who are in the same teaching field (i.e other second grade teachers, other social studies teachers, etc.) and with teachers in other content areas (i.e the gym teachers, the special education teachers, etc.).  By collaborating, teachers can gain different view points, ideas, techniques, etc. 

Because I view collaboration as something that is very important, I found it to be interesting that the reading would say that collaboration took teachers away from more important things.  However, thinking about it, I began to realize that there are teachers who feel this way.  While student teaching, the district I was in was trying to make teachers collaborate more with one another, and a big thing teachers kept wondering was how they were going to make the time for collaboration.  Thinking about this and then thinking about activities we are doing in class and tools I have been learning about made me realize that teachers can collaborate on-line.  Technology shouldn't just be integrated into the classroom to benefit students, but it can be used to benefit teachers as well.  I know that many of the teachers were supportive of collaboration but were just worried about finding a good time for everyone.  By creating collaborative groups on-line, like our thinkfinity groups, schools can give teachers a place to collaborate, and teachers can do it when they find the time rather than having to go to a meeting at a time that is inconvenient for them.

By having collaborative on-line groups, it is easier for teachers to work with teachers in other content areas, who may not have the same schedule and same free periods.  It also makes collaboration less of an inconvenience because teachers can do it when they have the time. 

I think that recommending on-line collaboration would be a great thing.  I would definitely create an on-line collaborative group and see if other teachers in my school are interested. 

5 comments:

  1. Tiffany, I think that this is a fantastic idea!!! I as a teacher would be more willing to participate in collaboration if I were able to do everything I needed and participate in the discussions as I had time to do so. I think that as a whole, this would be a good thing to suggest. I do, however, think that there will still need to be some type of face-to-face communication and collaboration. All too often, things written through text on the internet or in text messages are taken out of context, because the recipient does not get to experience the tone, inflection, sarcasm, and body language of the person they get a message from. I think that using the online collaboration and then once in a while getting together to discuss the things that are talked about online would be beneficial to all the people involved. The blogs would also let the administration know that the teachers really are working together and they can be assessed that way as well.

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  2. Tiffany, I think you bring up a fabulous point! Oftentimes, teachers are not only focusing on their responsibilities at their work place but are also juggling their family, personal lives, and in some cases even a second job. I feel as though "not having enough time" is a common problem many individuals face in today's society, not just teachers. The important thing is to find ways to relieve this issue by utilizing time efficient resources. In this way teachers are not limited to only talking to one another before or after school. Like you mentioned, sites like Thinkfinity are a great resource for teacher collaboration. Teachers with the same discipline could even set up their own Wikispace where they can share ideas and lessons that both have and have not worked in their classroom. The school could also set up discussion forums that are available for the entire staff to view. Oftentimes, an idea that may come from a 5th grade teacher on how to teach a writing skill can be modified to meet the needs of a 3rd grade teacher. The thing that I like about having this form of collaboration online is that it can be used as a stepping stone to understanding the whole concept. By this I mean, a teacher can read a post about a 4th grade lesson on Math through the online discussion. He or she may have some questions about the lesson and in turn will follow up with the discussion in person. This in turn will give the collaboration some face time. In a way, the integration of technology in this case is like a liaison between the teachers and new ideas.

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  3. I love the idea of taking teacher collaboration and having it take place online. I think a lot of teachers would be a bit more willing to do that, because they could look at it at their leisure. Plus I love it because you could also connect with teachers from around the world, which could add a whole other level to collaboration.

    With that said, in addition there is another reason why teachers are sometimes weary of collaboration and this is one that I found during my student teaching. Some of the teachers didn't want to collaborate because in order to do that they would have to be open to sharing and they were afraid of how other teachers would view what they were doing. SO there is an aspect to collaboration that involves putting yourself out there in order to do better, but some people find that very hard to do. Really if teachers want to find better ways to teach they have to be willing to be open and risk things. However I do think that even by having it take place online could be helpful for these kinds of teachers because it has an element of seeming more removed because you don't have to see people face to face, and provides a little more security.

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  4. Hi, Tiffany!

    I agree with you and everyone else that collaboration between teachers is ideal and could definitely take place online. Where I am working right now I see hardly any collaboration between teachers, and I think something that really plays into is job security. I constantly feel like a lot of teachers are competitive with one another right now because they want to make sure they are the best and stay put. Unfortunately, I think many teachers confuse collaboration with sort of "giving away" good techniques and ideas. I'm not sure how much of this is about stability and how much is about getting praise and attention for a job well done and a really creative idea. This is just something to think about! I think teachers should be using groups like Thinkfinity to keep in touch with one another, though- I would love to collaborate with my math department to do something like this!

    Also, another thing to think about- the face-to-face element of collaboration is really necessary. I recently received a series of extremely inappropriate e-mails from teachers in my district and the things that were said (and replied to ALL!!!) would not have been said in meetings in person. You'd like to think adults and professionals would be more mature and respectful of each other (even online) but unfortunately that is not always the case!

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  5. I believe that an online collaboration group for teachers would be a success at any school. As you stated, it’s hard for teachers to come together and share ideas during the day. Many times, we’re restricted to planning periods that occur during a free period during the day, or after-school hours when everyone just wants to get home as soon as possible. During my student teaching internship, I noticed that often times, some of the teachers thought they could be doing something more “productive” during their prep period. I think that providing teachers with an online community where they can share ideas and give feedback on their time would really accommodate them. One of the great things about asynchronous communication is the fact that you can enable communication over a period time where people can participate at their own convenience and according to their own schedules.

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