Sign up  |   |   |  Calendar  |  Latest Topics

  Author   Comment   Page 1 of 3      1   2   3   Next

Posts: 122
Reply with quote  #1 

"No one 'finds' time for collaboration; we must make time for collaboration." 

Describe an example of "collaboration lite" (chapter 7, page 134) you've experienced at your current or former work place. 

BONUS: describe an example of true collaboration (a PLC?) you've experienced.

Maggie Susong
ATPE Member Engagement Coordinator

Posts: 15
Reply with quote  #2 
On my grade level pod, we are given one day a week to meet during one class period with our grade level department teachers. These meetings, by the end of the year, became a joke. Some days we wouldn't even meet. They digressed into discussions of who was where in the curriculum but not really discussing curriculum, griping about certain students, what everyone was doing over the summer, etc. Our elective teachers meet as a team, and their meetings are basically a review of the calendar for competitions, trips and performances.
There have been very few times I feel we've been, as a grade level or department, a true PLC. When we've focused on data from tests, we've come close, but that focus seems to digress after we have been introduced to the material and then sent off to do something with it. We just don't know what to do or how to use it.

Posts: 44
Reply with quote  #3 
One year we had a period set aside for collaborating. All the 7th grade teachers met for one period and the 8th grade teachers for another. Honestly these sessions resulted in discussions about how to help problem students and an outlet for venting everyday teacher frustrations. Another year we accomplished more and focused on curriculum. This year we had two conferences. The second one was more for the core teachers to get together and discuss curriculum.

Posts: 14
Reply with quote  #4 

Since I don’t have any examples from my current school, I’ll be using examples from Student Teaching and my Methods placement. All of these felt like “collaboration lite” but there were good days when everyone benefited.

I had two placements during Student Teaching - one for Reading and one for Social Studies. Both contents had one day each week to meet and plan. Both contents would plan for the upcoming weeks, what and how assignments would be graded, how they planned to teach concepts, etc. During my Reading placement, the Curriculum Instruction would sit in on the meetings and lead the way. One of the 4-5 teachers in the grade level spoke the loudest, was the most opinionated and often got into arguments with the Curriculum Instructor. My own mentor did not say much during these meetings because it was her first year at the school. Instead, she would listen and do her own thing when she got into her classroom. This was definitely an “illusion of collaboration while avoiding the real work of a collaborative team” (pg. 133). But since they were in the mobile buildings, they often would talk between class periods about what they did or how a lesson went. And there was a day where they all got together for a PLC, but to me it was very disorganized.

My SS placement was better. They would all meet once a week and discuss what they would be teaching for the upcoming weeks and they would propose ideas or strategies for how to teach different concepts. They would also work together to create the tests, coming up with a certain amount of test questions. It was in this placement when I first learned of Norman Webb’s “depth of knowledge (DOK)” (pg. 139). They based their test questions off of this with a goal to have a certain amount of each level. They appeared to work much better together.

The best example of collaboration I have seen so far would be during my Methods block. These teachers met two-three times a week discussing strategies. Everyone brought something to the table, and they would work through ways to teach a concept. Sometimes teachers may have disagreed with a strategy, and suggest another way to do it. Everyone was listened to without judgement, and if they chose to teach it a different way, that was fine. During the next meeting, they would discuss how things went.

At one point they developed Expectations (Collective Commitments (Values) pg. 110 - Chapter 6) for the meetings because one teacher was not pulling her weight and another teacher was very frustrated. Expectations were developed - but only by my mentor, not with the group's input. She presented it at a meeting and invited ideas, but everyone accepted what she came up with. Everyone was assigned roles - handout maker, note taker, time keeper, etc.

The Curriculum Instructor came to several meetings to help with test questions. One day he brought data so the teachers could see how their students did on the STAAR and what they need to focus on. There was a day totally devoted to test questions based on data. All the teachers got together with the C.I. They seemed to work very well together and listened to each other. I don’t know if this a “true collaboration”, but compared to my Student Teaching, it sure felt like it. I really like how they met multiple times during the week rather than once.


Posts: 98
Reply with quote  #5 
When I taught, we taught on 3 teacher teams. We would meet once a week and mostly talk about issues with kids.  Since we taught different subjects, we didn't talk about curriculum or lessons.  Before science was tested in 5th grade, my school wasn't concerned with us collaborating for that subject...only math and language arts teachers collaborated once a week.  We did meet as science teachers once a week once state testing came into the picture...I found it very helpful. But we had to do all our meetings after school. We were never given "time off" during the day.

Posts: 57
Reply with quote  #6 
At my school there is blocked one hour a week for PLC, each grade level has a day. Specials teachers and para watch the classes while they are meeting. First meeting rules are written then hung around the room. Then they get into analysis.  When I was subbing at HS, they met every Thursday for PLC and students came in late. 

The only change I would like to see is a PLC for Specials and Special Ed. so this ways we can brainstorm ideas for covering material and helping students

Posts: 37
Reply with quote  #7 
At one of my former schools, I was "family leader" for a group of teachers who taught mostly the same students. We all taught different subjects and were supposed to focus on which students were failing one or more subjects and discuss interventions for those students. We were also to discuss behavior and students who were having discipline problems in one or more courses. I had the hardest time getting the teachers to show up to meetings. Meetings were so unproductive and frustrating. I really didn't have the support from the school principal to change that.

One of the teams I was on a couple of years prior was awesome. We met regularly, discussed what needed to be discussed, complete with laughing and singing, we pulled students in for conferences and followed up with parent conferences when necessary.

I have also had both good and bad subject level groups. Some where we discussed the best ways to teach something, how students responded to lessons, how to really engage, etc. Unfortunately, my first year teaching our meetings were day 1 do this page, day 2, this page, etc. No help for a new teacher on how to effectively teach those concepts.

Posts: 16
Reply with quote  #8 
The best collaboration I have ever experienced was working as one of three French teachers in a high school.  We shared two classrooms, and were a true team.  We team taught, traded off classes, developed lessons and assessments together, and evaluated how students were doing in developing their skills, then re-evaluated our teaching and re-taught.  This was completely teacher developed.  I cried when my husband was transferred and I left this school.

At my next school, I was on the design team that developed and put the PLC structure into place.  From there, it went downhill, for me at least.  I was the English department chair and teaching several levels of senior English and IB courses. No one else taught what I taught or was preparing students for the assessments that my students would take.  As I was an experienced teacher, I was expected to work with the freshman teachers during the PLC period to help them develop their lessons and assessments.  I had four preps with high stakes tests at the end.  These teachers had one prep.  While I do believe in helping others, I came to resent giving a full period a day to helping them when I was struggling with finding time to develop for my own classes.

At the school I am currently at, teachers who teach the same subject are given the same planning period. I am the only French teacher in the district now, so I am on my own.  The entire Foreign Language department does meet during lunch one day a week.  In past years this has been very successful, but the new teachers that came in last year do not attend.

As the only French teacher in my district, for collaboration, I do rely heavily on the AP French community for help and ideas.  People are so willing to give ideals and help!

Karen Tymniak
   "On ne voit bien qu'avec le coeur."

   "One only sees well with the heart."
        Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Posts: 8
Reply with quote  #9 

When I taught, we met once every week.  We had a team leader that tried hard to keep us on topic and made sure we truly "collaborated," but sometimes, not often, it felt more like a venting session than a proactive meeting time.  I will say that my grade level truly did share ideas well.  We discussed curriculum, lesson plans, pros and cons of any situation or idea, assessments, field trips, parents, issues with students, behaviors, etc.  If one teacher was going to implement a fun, hands-on activity or bring an outside source in, every teacher in our grade level had the same opportunity. 

We had visitors attend our PLCs, too, such as behavior specialists, the school guidance counselor, special education managers, sometimes teachers from other grades, PE instructors, the computer aide and the music instructor.  The principal also attended each session.  I really think this was an asset, as they could listen in to our discussions and make suggestions or gain a better idea of how we incorporated ideas into our classrooms to meet the needs of the diverse learners. 

I was really fortunate to work with a great group of teachers and we did work well together.  I can honestly say that our "collaborative team was part of the fundamental structure of our school" (p. 133).  Our intentions were for every child to succeed.  We were definitely part of the school culture in which the norm was "collaboration, continuous improvement, and shared learning" (p. 121). 


Posts: 42
Reply with quote  #10 
At one of my former schools the teachers for each grade level would meet once a week for one hour.  Each teacher was in charge of a specific subjects.  We would take turns talking about what the lessons were for the upcoming week for our given subject.  We also would mention if there were an additional activities we were going to implement.  For the most part I believe this was a successful way to collaborate.   I believe that it is very important and beneficial to find time to collaborate with other teachers.  

Posts: 42
Reply with quote  #11 
Describe an example of "collaboration lite" (chapter 7, page 134) you've experienced at your current or former work place. 

BONUS: describe an example of true collaboration (a PLC?) you've experienced.

Most of my PLC experiences over the last 18 years have been "collaboration lite".  I have been a part of many large teams of teachers where we have worked and planned together.  We've done the same things in our rooms, but different teachers were assigned different units so really we were just pieces of a puzzle.

When I taught in smaller districts I experienced a few forms of true collaboration.  In Dublin, TX there was one 6th grade math teacher, one 7th grade math teacher (me) and one 8th grade math teacher.  There were times that we were able to get together to truly plan to ensure our units fed into eachother's.  Also, while working in Granbury, TX I was a part of a collaborative unit where the Science, Math, English and History teams worked together on a unit.

Jennifer Goedken

Posts: 83
Reply with quote  #12 
Sadly, most of my recent "collaboration" experiences fall into the "collaboration lite" category. Grade level meetings are called PLC's, but they are mostly what the book calls coordination (p 134). The once weekly time is spent working more on calendar events than improved instruction. 

Almost a decade ago, in another district, I had great experiences collaborating as our district implemented PLC's.  As a group, we formed a meeting protocol with specific expectations and conversation guides.  Each teacher brought a lesson from a specific unit and the group worked to improve each lesson by asking a series of questions and suggesting extensions/cross curricular connections.  All questions and responses were objective, not personal, and our team walked away with a stronger unit to teach in our classrooms. 

Posts: 63
Reply with quote  #13 

When I was doing a long term job at an elementary school, each week for one hour on Thursdays the whole team would meet and discuss what was to be taught in each subject area for the next week. Each teacher had a subject and would bring their own unique approach on how to teach it to the students. We could either decide to go with their approach or come up with our own. If we decided on a different approach we were encouraged to share it with the rest of the team by dropping our idea in their mailbox outside their door or send it via e-mail. 


Posts: 38
Reply with quote  #14 
Chapter seven stresses that a Profession Learning Community must focus on student and adult learning, and clarify the processes.  Members of a team must collaborate on the key work area processes of: planning lessons, developing teaching skills and content, and aligning curriculum and expectations.  The results of this practice (instead of those of coordination) are highly satisfied teachers.  Now sought out, significant changes in the behaviors of teachers and administrators are to be applied by members of the teaching profession, as isolation in teaching is done away with and collaboration is instituted.

My experience with "collaboration lite" was, when hired to assist a teacher at a middle school.  When the two history teachers of the same grade level met they would discuss measures to implement history assignments.  Sometimes I made copies of the day's assignment for him, this was coordinated effort. 

On this same job, I also experienced true collaboration when enabled to work along with this teacher in his classroom.  This was for me, a subjective collaborative effort.  I was able to share in his knowledgeable craft as I had hands on experience in his classroom.  As I witnessed his teaching strategies, I worked along with him in an effort to complement his instruction.


Posts: 32
Reply with quote  #15 
"Collaboration Lite" is the norm I have experienced at most schools.  The teachers are given time, an extra "conference period" to collaborate on curriculum; however this does tend to digress into discussions of vacations, surgeries, problem students, etc.  I have never experienced a "collaboration period" when goals are set and all team members are responsible for results.

A type of "PLC" was informally instituted by my mentor teacher in a middle school where I student taught.  The teachers at this middle school were dealing with many ESL students and few were actually working "at grade level".  In an effort to increase the success rate among these students, the 5th grade teachers made an opportunity to meet at the first of each week to coordinate lesson plans and reaffirm what each teacher had in their lesson plan for the week.  The brainstorming was very interesting to watch and I do feel that significant progress was made due to these teacher's efforts.  To tell the truth, I'm not sure the principal was even aware of the meetings.  They were definitely teacher-organized, which appeared to add to their success.  Teachers who coordinate efforts because they deeply care about their students are the best.  Forced collaboration, in my opinion, will simply cause ill will among the teachers, who are already overburdened with paperwork and meetings.

Rita Wilcox
Previous Topic | Next Topic

Quick Navigation:

Easily create a Forum Website with Website Toolbox.