When I used to plan lessons, I planned them and I delivered them. That was it. If I worked as part of a team, I would usually share my lessons with the other grade team members, but all I did was give them what I created. Teachers could choose to use my ideas or not us them. To me, that was sharing. And technically it was, but in the last little while, I’ve learned that sharing can be so much more.
While this year, I’ve been actively planning with my grade team partner, I’ve also started planning with other people in my professional learning network. These are educators that I interact with online, and we’ve gotten to the point that we regularly exchange ideas and offer suggestions for each other’s lessons. Now I don’t just give my activities to other teachers, but I ask them for advice. We engage in regular dialogue, and ask questions and offer advice to get more out of the activities for our students .
On the weekend, it didn’t surprise me when I shared an upcoming activity for this week, and a consultant wrote back with some good questions that had me revisit what we could do next. Over the next couple of days, another consultant and a teacher got involved in the discussion, and the three of them made some good suggestions about modelled activities that I could do before the culminating task. On my way to work this morning, I was thinking about what they said, and I had an idea. I spoke to my teaching partner when she arrived, and she made some additional suggestions that got more students involved in the modelled activity. We finalized the plans and shared the activity with both of our classes. We also shared our final activity online, so that others could also use the idea.
While there was nothing wrong with our initial activity, it actually got better as we shared it with others, heard some useful feedback, and modified our plans. We encourage students to get advice and support from their peers – I think teachers benefit from this “peer component” equally as much. Together, we’re better!
How do you collaborate with other educators? How has collaboration changed during your career?
Aviva Dunsiger taught Junior Kindergarten to Grade 2 for 11 years before moving to Grade 6 this year. She’s passionate about using technology in the classroom to support student learning, and she’s presented on this topic numerous times both online and offline.
She enjoys maintaining her blog, Living Avivaloca: My Many Musings on Life and Learning. Aviva’s reflective writing about her professional practice inspires communication between educators, administrators and parents.