Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Advantage of Collaborative Teaching Models

At yesterday's edcamp Boston, I listened for trends and I also listened for information related to collaborative teaching models.

There was definitely support for teachers working together to present deep learning and pedagogy. At session after session, the need for collaboration, working together, and maximizing time and effort were discussed. There was little support or discussion about returning to the one-teacher one-classroom model of teaching all subjects since that model doesn't allow the depth possible as the curriculum becomes more detailed and defined.

The fact that there is so much knowledge available to all of us, and that to relay knowledge with depth, understanding, and enthusiasm takes time and matters points to the need for all of us to think deeply about how and when we collaborate with colleagues to provide students with the best possible targeted teaching/learning programs.

At the first session, I listened to Jenny Leung talk about her deep work with poetry and literature. To unearth, memorize, and analyze the poems she chooses and the activities she promotes with her middle school students takes time and care. If she were teaching multiple subjects, she would not be able to reach that kind of depth.

Similarly, I sat with a group of experienced STEAM teachers. As they relayed the way they create their STEAM Labs (Fab Labs, Engineering Studios, Creation Rooms . . .), I realized how important it was for them to have time and focus in order to attend related workshops, construct STEAM organization systems and protocols, and employ wonderful projects.

In the same regard, I listened to a group of math educators relay their work with flipping the classroom. They shared numerous ways to engage and empower students during math learning--methods that require educators to know the tools, resources, and content with great depth and to work with colleagues and students to enrich and deepen that work.

Later at a session about professional learning, one teacher after another discussed the advantages of collaboration. I shared the strength of our own grade-level PLCs and how that construct is moving us forward with strength.

Again and again, the theme of collaboration arose as an important element when it comes to successfully meeting the needs of all of our students.

This year I had the chance to experience the strength of collaboration in our shared teaching model at fifth grade. I'm hoping a similar model is approved for next year, but for some reason, we have not received a response to our proposal. The lack of a response, of course, leads me to all kinds of conjecture, but instead of conjecture, I'll wait.

If the proposal is approved, I'll have the chance to collaborate with a number of wonderful educators to best meet the needs of our fifth grade team in specific subject areas, and if the proposal is not approved then I'll do my best to teach the fifth graders assigned to me all the subjects on my own with the exception of our 2.5 hours a week of ELA and Math RTI.

I'm not sure what the outcome will be, but I remain a fan of greater collaboration and more specific responsibility for individual educators as I believe that's a way that we can deepen the work we do with greater personalization and strength. I look forward to the discussions and decision ahead related to this.