Being able to see, hear and experience every classroom in the school is one of my favourite parts of being a Learning Coach. Part of this is selfish (I am constantly “stealing” ideas to add to my toolbox), but mostly it’s the opportunity to facilitate the sharing. It’s being able to see the skills, strategies and supports that are enhancing student learning in one classroom, and being able to transfer those same ideas to benefit two or three times as many students. So often, even when we value collaboration, we as teachers feel isolated in our own classroom and either don’t experience the amazing things going on in other classrooms, or don’t see the value of what’s happening in our own (or both). One of my goals this year was (and continues to be) to promote and facilitate this sharing.
This year I started holding teacher sharing sessions. They are short (45 minutes to an hour), include food (of course), are optional, and the topics are driven by teachers. I begin with a short introduction, but the rest of the time is reserved for teachers to ask questions, discuss what they have found successful (or not) and offer suggestions or assistance to their colleagues. After we have finished, I compile what we’ve done and share it on a GoogleDoc so it can be continually accessed and enhanced.
Collaboration happens daily in schools – in the hallways, around the staffroom table, and even on the walk out to the parking lot – but sometimes in the busy lives of teachers, having a set time, place and topic is helpful to really “get the ball rolling”.