The Journey – Walking Through a Lesson of Life
By Nina M. Benson
An informal example of collaboration could be dancing: a pair moving in planned steps as one, across the floor. The movements must be determined then executed at just the right time least Ginger steps on the toes of good old Fred and they look clumsy. Of course, this pair never looked awkward because they planned together before the show. I’m sure they had their individual ideas about various movements and techniques, but they discussed, planned, relented, submitted to the other’s knowledge or inventiveness and ended with a created routine that was flawless.
Collaborating art teachers: What does that look like? What does that mean? How can this be?
Cooperating teachers and/or the district, set a common goal and planning ensues. A bond is forged in trust and honesty. Sometimes risks are cajoled out of the other because the other teacher sees potential just under the surface that could benefit the goal – this is why trust and honesty are so important. You can’t just go around “gently” pushing others to perform - this could be construed as manipulation, which in most cases is counter-productive.
When collaborating teachers share the responsibilities, they listen to another’s point of view. Teachers learn to walk in humility and openness to doing things differently. Teachers learn to trust. Teachers who collaborate do not keep accounts of who did what – they see what needs to be done and they simply work towards that shared goal.
Sadly, some teachers don’t collaborate because they don’t want to appear as if they are not knowledgeable about “everything”. They don’t want to be perceived as weak. They don’t want to put aside the reins of control. Share your gifts – this is what makes a gift a gift – the giving.
Collaboration is a win/win. Students are caught off guard with new ideas as they are hit from both sides. There is additional control added to the class as another pair of eyes can literally see behind the other’s back. More points of connection are available for students to learn a task or important lesson as there are twice as many voices saying the same thing, but differently, offering a differentiated lesson.
The collaborating teachers get perks as well. They are stretched. Their horizons are broadened. Working relationships are cultivated and cemented; they learn to trust a bit more. They could offer parents two perspectives. Teachers can encourage one another in areas of weakness and be of greater support. Just like we encourage our students we can encourage one another as well.
Collaboration is a mutual respect and willingness to work together to create something beautiful.