5 Tips for Collaborating with other Teachers
Utilizing the other teachers you work with will not only enhance your lessons but also help you fit in more teaching time with less stress. Your colleagues are valuable resources to you, and even though it may seem intimidating at first, working together will benefit both of you and your students. Think about it–you only see your students for approximately 45 minutes a day, so discussing students’ strengths and weaknesses with the teachers who have engaged with them the rest of the day will help you better reach those students. So, where do we begin?
Make the First Move
It can be overwhelming to think about carving out extra time to talk or plan with your co-workers, but if you want to boost school morale and become a better teacher, you have to do it. Also, the whole idea here is that working with your other teachers will save you time in the long run. Make sure when you approach other teachers that you have some sort of idea in mind that you can build off of together. Maybe you notice the science teacher has a better rapport with a few students than you do, and you want to know how to motivate them better. Perhaps you are reading a historical novel in English class, and you think it would enhance their understanding of the social studies teacher could cover the time period with the same kids. Most teachers will be open to conversation and possible collaboration as long as it doesn’t seem like another massive responsibility.
Also, if you are not very social and maybe you don’t speak to all of your team’s teachers every day, make a point to. Say hello, give compliments, and build relationships with the people you work with. It will be to your benefit.
All teachers are a professional in their field. We all are trying to manage our classrooms, lesson plans, and workload the best we can, so why not share what we have learned with each other?
Set up a drive of some sort (Google Drive is my preference) where teachers can upload anything they think others may find useful. Lesson plans, vocabulary or spelling lists, project ideas, and so on. Finding resources on your own is great, but having a place where you can see the work your students are doing in other classes, as well as effective plans or strategies taught by coworkers, make the instruction for your students more seamless.
Schedule Time for Physical Collaboration
Some schools are fortunate enough to meet with their “team” every day, while other schools maybe meet only once a month. Do whatever works for your school. Maybe all the 8th-grade teachers have period 7 free, and you decide to meet during that period once a week to discuss students, collaborative projects, etc. Perhaps you think that it would be more beneficial to meet with the other teachers in your discipline, so share schedules and find a time that works. It’s crucial to carve out these appointments with each other to ensure that they actually happen. We all know what happens when we say, “I’ll catch up with you soon!” Make a plan and stick to it.
Keep it Manageable
If it starts to feel overwhelming, people will back out. Instead of being inspiring it will just be something else that has been added to your plate. We’re busy, and by the end of the day our brains feel like mush, and if one more person asks us a question we might explode. True story. So, keep it manageable and keep it light. If you want to dig deeper and really dive into a project with another class subject, keep those conversations for just the teachers who are as into it as you. Don’t force anything on anyone. Remember that you’re equals, and each teacher has their own goals and own ideas for their classroom.
Student Learning is the Focus
Workplace politics can easily cloud judgment and disrupt collaboration efforts. Remember the real reason that you’re here. Don’t forget that it all comes down to the students and how to deliver the best education you can to them. Keep conversations anchored to the subject at hand, and try not to go off on tangents about other outside problems. It’s difficult enough to schedule time for teachers to meet, so don’t waste valuable time, and don’t lose sight of the goal. Our work can be frustrating, but by building relationships with other teachers and expanding lessons to a point where everyone is engaged should lessen the feelings of defeat and help you reach your best teacher potential!
Read our previous blog post discussing 3 Classroom Activities on a Budget here
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This article is written by Lauren Bubb, an English Teacher at Frankfort-Schuyler Central Schools
To reach Lauren, please contact here.