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I Want to Get Better at… Collaboration

June 21, 2018 / by Lily Jones

When the school days are whizzing by and you have a thousand things to do, it can seem easiest to just power through on your own. But we are truly better together! Effective collaboration helps us save time, enrich our ideas, and consider different perspectives. Plus, it can be fun and provide a much-needed opportunity to interact with other adults.

Whether you have a strong collaborative culture at your school or not, you can take steps to get better at collaboration this summer. Use these ideas to get started.

Find a Buddy

Having teacher friends at your school can make all the difference. If you truly enjoy who you’re working with, you’ll be more likely to enjoy your job. But when you can collaborate with your teacher besties, even more magic happens!

  • In this video, watch second grade teachers Tita Ugalde and Maricela Rodriguez collaborate to plan a lesson for ELLs. Notice how the teachers support and learn from each other… all while having a good time.

VIDEO: Collaborating to Plan a CCSS Lesson for ELLs

VIDEO: Collaborating to Plan a CCSS Lesson for ELLs

Use a Protocol

When you want to collaborate, it can seem hard to know where to start. Using protocols can help you structure your collaboration sessions to be as effective as possible. Protocols help to make sure your meetings have a clear focus and that you stay on track.

  • Watch how this group of teachers use a critical friends protocol to look at student work. The protocol gives teachers a structure to use when reflecting on students’ learning.

VIDEO: Critical Friends: Looking at Student Work

VIDEO: Critical Friends: Looking at Student Work

Take an Inquiry Approach

We all have things that we wonder about in our classroom. Using teacher inquiry can be a great way to address those wonders. Consider starting an inquiry group where teachers can work together to examine problems of practice.

  • In this video, watch how high school teacher Jade Talbot uses teacher inquiry to create and refine a successful warm-up routine.

VIDEO: Using Teacher Inquiry to Support ELLs

VIDEO: Using Teacher Inquiry to Support ELLs

Learn Together

It can be challenging when your school doesn’t have a collaborative culture. But if you don’t have colleagues to collaborate with at your school, it doesn’t have to mean you’re out of luck. Think about reaching out to teachers you may know at other school sites. You can meet virtually, grab a coffee, or just send each other ideas about what’s working and not working in your classrooms. Or consider taking a class, attending a PD session, or doing an online course with other teachers.

  • In this video, Sherwanda Chism and Debora Gaten collaborate to debrief and plan lessons, despite being at different schools.

VIDEO: Working Together to Reflect & Adjust Lessons

VIDEO: Working Together to Reflect & Adjust Lessons

As you learn how to develop more opportunities for collaboration with other teachers, remember to foster collaboration in your classroom as well. Check out these three steps for successful student collaboration.

Topics: Professional Learning, Strategy, Summer Learning

Lily Jones

Written by Lily Jones

Lily Jones taught K/1 for seven years in Northern California. She has experience as a curriculum developer, instructional coach, teacher trainer, and is also a contributing writer for Teaching Channel.

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