It is of utmost importance for teachers to come together and collaborate because we have so much to learn from each other. I make an effort in my school to collaborate with other teachers, the administration and families by building relationships. These relationships exist because I have dedicated time and effort into communication through face to face meetings, phone calls, and emails. My school has also put teachers in collaboration teams that we call PLC (Professional Learning Community) groups where we consistently meet to sharpen each other and grow together as educators. I think that the “Community” aspect of this group is extra important because these relationships also create an open environment for teachers to bring collaboration into the classrooms.
Our last meeting made a big impact on me because we dedicated most of the time to really learn from each other’s experiences, knowledge and unique perspectives. During this meeting, we focused on thinking about what our “Best Practices” are and then shared them with the group.
On the first page of this PLC’s Minutes, the collaboration begins by reviewing the overall goals of our PLC and then the specific goals that we hope to reach in this meeting. I think that this is a very important practice because we place so much weight on having goals for our students to reach while we as teachers also need objectives to follow. Our team then used the majority of the time to discuss our best teaching practices. I quickly noticed how diverse these practices were, which reminded me of how we can use these differences to grow. This group has a wide range of educators who teach art, photography, choir, band, video production, and special learning. Everyone has different styles and practices, and I found that many of these approaches would also work well in my classes. I specifically took to heart what Teacher B said about seeing through the student’s perspectives. I have so far taken this statement to practice by trying to think about what a junior high or high school student goes through on a daily basis to become educated. However, Teacher B was saying that she specifically looks into the student’s social interactions and the emotional roller coaster that students are going through and tries to incorporate that into the learning process. She made an excellent point by explaining that most teenagers are much more concerned with how their peers in the classroom view them than the work itself. If teachers can better understand the high and lows of teenage emotion, then we can better encourage, instruct, and guide students towards learning.
Throughout this collaboration time, I also took away some specific practices that I hope to incorporate in my classroom. Teachers D and F explained how important storytelling is in their junior high and high school classrooms. I found this to be an interesting best practice because I would have expected it in an elementary setting rather than in high school classes. On the contrary, these teachers said that storytelling was one of their main best practices because it causes students to let their guards down and engage with the material. People love hearing stories and students will tune in to listen without realizing that they are also learning at the same time.
Teacher G reminded me of how important it is to make sure that students are actively engaging with the subject matter. This teacher said that he does this by constantly being on his feet and circling the classroom; always creating movement and checking in with students. I have actually sat in this teacher’s classroom and can attest that he does this the entire time and it does have a positive effect on the students. I think that I have grown in this multitasking skill over this year, but I think that there is still more room to grow.
In this collaboration group, we are dedicated to encouraging each other to become better teachers. I choose to make the most from this valuable opportunity and have given this group a fresh perspective on how we can grow together. I have expanded this collaboration beyond this group and into the classroom so that it can even further benefit student learning. It is so important for teachers to use each other as resources because as seen from this PLC, we all bring something different to the table.