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June 5, 2018

Creating Your Super Hero Teaching Team

It’s Time to Form Your Own “Super” Team….

I personally can’t get enough of superhero movies and usually have their release date circled on my calendar. Of course, I NEVER go on the first night! (the lines are insane and if I felt like battling crowds I’d just step into the hallway during passing periods! )…

…but I guess it’s always a good thing to have something to look forward to. On a few occasions, I’ve even had debates with my students about WHO is the greatest superhero and, to be honest, there are better choices than others (potentially a future blogging topic!). Truly great superheroes, however, never work alone…and neither do great teachers.

There are two superhero camps in the world: Marvel and DC. Take my advice and don’t get into an argument with a loyalist for either side about which is better – It will get you nowhere. Just appreciate that when Superman joins Batman and Wonder Woman…and when Captain America joins the Hulk and Ironman, amazing things happen. Both “The Justice League” and “The Avengers” are a collection of individuals with incredible individual talents and when these individuals form teams, anything is possible. Trust me, I’ve seen it in the movies.

So…what does a “School Super Team” (SST) look like? It’s kind of like the movies….When you surround yourself with others possessing unique teaching powers, amazing things can and will happen. So, which superhero teacher are you…or do you want to be? Just stop for a moment and mentally assemble an SST where you work. It’s time to start thinking about NEXT school year and who you should surround yourself with. Here’s who you’ll need:

SST’s have a leader –and it’s a critical position. He or she is the “go-to.” They’re probably (but don’t have to be!) a veteran and have gone to war fighting for educational justice on more than one occasion. They understand building and district-wide strategy and have the innate ability to rally the troops. There’s something intrinsic about this person that you just can’t put your finger on. They’re known, respected, and valued. Who’s your SST leader?

SST’s always have a gadget guru….Find one. When your computer decides to be uncooperative or your rover cart has its own plans for the day, who do you call or where do you run to? Sure, you’ve probably got a building “techie” but do you really know where their office is? I didn’t think so. Mine is our media specialist and I call her the “lifeguard” because she saves me whenever I’m caught up in a techie tidal wave.

The next SST member is an absolute essential: The CIT. The “colleague I trust” knows how your classroom operates and what your teaching strengths (and yes) your professional weaknesses are. They are the one who will answer your questions with the response you don’t want to hear but need to be affirmed. They’ve “been there” when it comes to the occasional conflicts and concerns of the profession and always know the right things to say. CIT’s are ready and willing to celebrate your victories but always able to remind you that greater battles lie ahead.

You also need a “suit.” This is an administrator who no longer wears a cape but understands the heroics of your classroom approach. They’re aware of your teaching superpowers and support your efforts to continually add gadgets to your arsenal. They’ve also “been there” and probably donned the teaching spandex at some point in their educational career. In a previous life, they were more than likely a team leader on an SST when they, themselves, were lesson planning, grading papers, calling parents, monitoring hallways, and living one bell at a time.

When I first started teaching, it was a rarity to share lesson plans and ideas with colleagues. It was as if everyone had their own trade secrets and the costs associated with investing in anyone else’s product was too high. Lesson plan books (remember those?) were kept under lock and key. It was a system that worked. In recent years, we’ve realized the value that PLN’s, collaboration, co-teaching, and mentoring have for teachers. They’re effective district-driven constructs that support teachers, dot the I’s, and cross the T’s for teaching practices and the delivery of curriculum.

But….we’re going beyond PLN’s. You need an SST.

SST’s are caped crusaders throughout your building ready to join forces. They’re disguised behind khakis, cardigans, button downs, and comfortable shoes – look closely, you’ll find them.Superheroes and super teachers rarely work alone – And neither should you.

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