Tony Grey's (Kowhai School) sabbatical work this year has been fantastic! Start off Week 3 of #CENZ15 with a look at this great video about the benefits of collaborative teaching.
I really like this blog post by Greg Carroll from Core Education, which explains the difference between collaboration, co-operation and connections.
Collaboration - This is where people are so inextricably linked that they couldn’t function without the others. The effect is much bigger than the sum of the two parts. In MLP this is the thing that makes the difference. Teachers share and organise the programme in ways that mean you couldn’t split the ways of working back into its parts again.
As Greg goes on to say, true collaboration is still quite rare in our schools. Often there are aspects of it, but it is important to recognise real collaboration as opposed to co-operation. Of course, co-operation is required in the classroom all the time - "I'll get the PE gear - you get the kids organised into their teams." "I'll plan the inquiry unit header, you plan the maths unit header." The key difference here is that even though the co-operation makes things better, those teachers could do this on their own if they needed to.
Wondering: As you reflect on your past practices or current practice, how much is co-operative and how much is truly collaborative?
This week I'm looking at Collaborative Planning and ideas for getting started with this. As I mentioned last week, often when people begin co-teaching, they might begin just in one curriculum area and gradually expand on this. The same is often true for planning together. You might find when you first start that you just adapt one area of your planning, assessment and evaluating. It may make sense to both have copies of what you are doing, in place with your other planning documents.Then, as you progress, you may end up with everything being shared and worked on in one place. Some teachers still need to print out plans and write all over them. Others are happy to be in a totally digital world. It's important to cater for the teaching styles of everyone and see what suits different people.
Without a doubt though, collaborative digital tools such as Google Docs making working with others to plan, assess and reflect so much easier. Most schools who are doing well with this are using GAFE, Office 365, Evernote or similar to create living documents that are owned by everyone and accessible anywhere, anytime. Some are taking it next level and sharing planning with students and parents.
This diagram from the VLN shows ways in which collaborative planning might happen. What I would add to the diagram, is the powerful conversations that take place while collective planning is going on. It's not just about timetabling, but this is when those incidental teaching as inquiry type conversations happen! "What was that awesome activity your learners were doing in reading last week?" " Does anyone have any good ideas on the best ways to introduce fractions?" " Did you notice that studentx was really struggling with getting going with writing reports?" This is where the power of collaboration comes in.
I found that once in a co-teaching situation, the quality of teaching and learning activities increased hugely. For example, I went from teaching Maths in a single cell class to Stages 3, 4, 5 and 6 groups, to working in a power of 3 teaching 3 groups at Stage 5. Even though there were variances within those groups, my understanding of the concepts at that stage improved. As I taught concepts, I had the chance to reflect and analyse what had worked well, prior to teaching the same concept to my next group. When I compared the amount of work that my Stage 5 groups got through, compared to my single Stage 5 group the year before, I couldn't believe how much more I had taught in the co-teaching situation.
Take a look at these crowd sourced examples of collaborative planning templates and check out this thread of ideas on the Virtual Learning Network.
Recently I was at a workshop discussing a school's journey working collaboratively. One of the key misunderstandings from the participants was they thought collaborative planning meant planning every single thing together. They were thinking that all three teachers would sit and plan for 12 reading groups all together, same for maths etc. While that might work for some, most of us simply wouldn't have enough hours in the day! More often, what would happen is that teachers would discuss their reading programme, identify any barriers to learning, share good ideas and finalise their timetable for the following week. They might organise workshop opportunities, hot spot activities, motivating lesson starters and target group instruction.Then each teacher would plan their own lessons for the students they are teaching. They would link their planning to the collaborative document so that anyone could access. (Hot Tip - link a folder that you have filed weekly plans into, rather than linking to the weekly plan. This means that you can just duplicate the last plan and the link will remain.) There is definitely still room for individual teacher creativity and teaching to strengths.
Wonderings to Consider:
How will you start planning collaboratively? With one curriculum area or multiple areas?
How will you adjust your timetable to allow for multiple teaching and learning sessions?
Do you have a MATES agreement in place? ( See #CEM 1 blog post )
What are the best systems for your teaching team to use to plan, assess and evaluate?
How can you share your planning with students and whanau? What is appropriate to share?
How can you include student voice in your own planning? Can students be taking on teaching roles?
Are you working collaboratively or co-operatively?
I hope this post helps you with your journey. Stay tuned next week for Assessment and Monitoring and my final installment for #CENZ15. Feel free to tweet/ facebook/ email with any questions or comments or requests for future posts!
What is collaborative teaching? Blog post by Chris Bradbeer.
A typical day in a collaborative environment. Kathleen Morris
Part Two of Collaborative Teaching Advantages Tony Grey
My name is Ngaire Shepherd-Wills. This website is a record of my TeachNZ sabbatical, Term 2, 2013 and then I have continued to share my wonderings and discoveries about Innovative Learning Practices. I now work for CORE Education. Views are my own.