Tips to Building Collaboration Among New and Seasoned Teachers
Finding that Right Teacher Collaborator
Every teacher has a different personality and sometimes personalities can interfere with building effective collaborative relationships. In a teacher’s first year, positive collaborative relationships are essential to raising a new teacher’s confidence as s/he survives with lesson planning and managing a classroom.
New teachers often feel hesitant to network with other teachers because they feel they have more experience. While you can’t network with everybody, the key is to find the right teacher personality that suits your needs.
One way to scout out good collaborators is during your staff meetings. Share a small success story that happened during the week. It can be a small experience and it should give you an indication of who could be your “fan” or your supporter. In the beginning, you’ll want collaborators that have the time and energies to invest in working with you, even if it is just a half an hour a week. Keep to these tips:
- Share your success stories and notice the reactions you get.
- Make a mental note as you notice your comfort level and trust your intuition.
- Avoid making decisions. Think about how you felt after the meeting and again, trust your intuition.
I've Shared my Success Story, Now What?
Now that you've had a few good laughs and vented your frustration, you'll want to get down to serious business of lesson planning. The act of collaboration involves a great deal of tolerance, understanding, patience and flexibility. You may not always agree with your teacher friend. You may need to step back a little if you are used to having things done quicker and more automatically. Avoid confrontation, just stick to the goal: you both want to plan a lesson together, or decide on the guidelines for a high school research project.
Use Your Time Effectively
New teachers don't have a lot of time. Decide on where your efforts are best used right now. You may use the school schedule as a starting point. Maybe you have an upcoming test or project and you need to plan objectives and question items. The most important tip is to ask for exactly what you feel you be most helpful to you as a new teacher.
Decide on a time slot and stick to it. If you have little time slot availability at school, then opt for discussing the issue on the telephone and then follow-up at school. Ask questions that aren't clear or you feel can help in creating a dialogue so you both can exchange information. When in doubt of a particular issue, call in a third party to help you create objectivity. Remember, collaborative relationships take time to grow and develop and often the best ideas and activities develop when you are focusing on something else.
Remember that your aim is to build a working resource together that will allow you to combine your ideas communally. This is the real purpose behind building collaborative relationships. For a new teacher, you will find it will be easier to deal with classroom situations as you feel a sense of belonging with the teachers around you.