Collaboration Among Teachers
Over twenty years ago I stepped into a classroom for the very first time as a new teacher. I remember the excitement that I felt being able to set up my very own classroom. I was a bit nervous being a newbie but soon found out my entire team was made up of newbies. Two teachers were beginning their second year of teaching and the other teacher was beginning her first year. I just knew this would be a great opportunity for us to share and grow into the profession together.
By October of that first year, I realized that team spirit, cooperation, and collaboration were foreign terms to two members of that team. Instead, competition, sabotage and backbiting were the modus of operation for my year two colleagues. One of my most vivid memories was seeing a great bulletin board idea at a workshop that I just had to use. I rushed back to school and shared the idea with my instructional assistant who began working on it. I was so excited to see the board up and couldn’t wait to see what the students thought of it the next day. The next morning, much to my shock, I came in to find the bulletin board had been taken down. When I asked my assistant, she told me the teacher next door wanted to use the idea and told her to take mine down. At that point, “the fur started flying!” That teacher along with the other teammate took materials out of my room and made that first year of teaching less than enjoyable.
Collaboration Among Administrators
Fast-forward twenty years; I am entering my second year as a principal. Over the years I have witnessed similar types of scenarios as the one described above on various levels of education. At times, there has been so much competition and a lack of teamwork. This has always baffled me, considering educators dedicate their lives to working with young people. We strive to teach them to get along, cooperate, share, and be kind to one another. I can even recall reading an article about 4 years ago about how school leaders across the nation would be more successful if they were willing to collaborate more.
Well, I am glad to say twenty years later, the anticipation and excitement of working with other educators has been realized. Of course, I have had other experiences of working with fantastic teams, but the experience I am about to share demonstrates cooperation in its ultimate form.
Over the past year, the superintendent of the school system I work in has encouraged schools to host Community Priority Workshops (CPW). These workshops are aimed at bringing all stakeholders together to work collaboratively to chart a course for each school. Schools began hosting their workshops individually and gathered beneficial information from these sessions. This model of school-based workshops was working and schools continued utilizing the structure.
Innovation is the idea of doing something new and different, trying a different method. Well that is exactly what Dr. Dana Bost had in mind. Dr. Bost was the principal of the middle school that my elementary school feeds into. Dr. Bost had the idea to host a CPW that pulled together all the schools that fed into the high school her middle school students would attend (She is now the principal of that high school). The idea was risky because it stepped away from the mold that had already been cast from the previous CPWs hosted in our county. However, all of the principals in our zone were on board.
We began meeting monthly and solicited input from central office staff members to ensure we were maintaining the spirit of what our superintendent wanted to achieve with the CPW. The experience of collaboration and cooperating with the other 8 principals was an amazing experience. It was quite evident that we were all striving to achieve the same goal. No one was trying to out shine anyone else and everyone wanted to do their part. The idea of “together we can do more” is what permeated through the entire experience. The event was successful! We were able to identify what we needed for our individual schools as well as what we needed as a feeder pattern zone. Based on the positive feedback, I am sure this is just the beginning of future collaborations.
Click this link to learn more about our CPW.
Community Priorities Workshop
Collaboration Among Cohort Members
Pulling all of these experiences together brings me back to this Ed.D. Program. Over the past five semesters, I am again feeling the sense of true teamwork and collaboration. It is truly amazing to work with people who have a vested interest in your success. I can tell that we are all in this together. Together we can do more!