So I had more to write about on my last blog but...well, frankly, you are more likely to read two shorter blogs than one long one, so I guess I got you good sucker! Anyway, collaboration...it is exciting. And I don't mean like sit around the table every now and then or drive in your car pool and talk about students collaboration...I mean like authentic, learning centered, high energy, task oriented collaboration. And I must admit...I am a bit selfish. Yes, this ejournalism project was a wonderful experience for "our" students (meaning all students involved, we became a team and those students involved became our students...see last blog for more). They were given an opportunity to connect with students from other school cultures, which was huge. But it was also a wonderful experience for me, as a teacher. I really enjoyed working with teachers that I do not normally work with. And sure, it helped that these teachers just happened to be energetic, enthusiastice and great at what they do. But equally as important was why we were working together. We had a reason to work together, and that reason was to ensure student success. And then it hit me, why don't we do this more often?
I don't just mean why don't we do projects like this more often, I mean why, as teachers, don't we work together more often for a reason? And this lead to a couple of discussions with a couple of my colleagues earlier today. There is no reason that we cannot get together and solve problems. Let's take rural education for example. It's no secret that rural schools lack resources. It would be nice to have a shop in every rural school in Saskatchewan, but let's face it...it's probably not going to happen. Now, we can sit and complain about this and tell the division office that they need to give us a shop...or, we can get together with other rural schools and the division office and figure out how we can our give students "shop" skills. As my colleague and I were discussing this we started talking about what the outcomes would be - perhaps building shops in central and accessible locations; hey, we could even tier students - those who knew they wanted to enter the trades upon graduation could receive intensive programming and those that just wanted to dabble could recieve less extensive training. Boom, two teachers, standing in a hallway for 5 minutes had already started trying to figure out how we could solve this problem. Imagine what 20 or 50 teachers could accomplish. How long would it actually take to come up with real solutions? I think you know the answer. Then why aren't we doing it?
I guess sometimes it is just easier to complain and do nothing. And in the past I have been a culprit of this, but from now on I am going to try to be less of a culprit. And in the future I will probably be a culprit of this...but I will be conscience of it and hopefully wake the hell up. I have sat with other teachers and said things like "well, we have an attendance problem", or "other schools don't have our problems", or "our school is different". Well, let's be honest and call it like it is, this is all bullshit. It is just a way to complain, pass the buck, and not do anything about it. I was looking for someone else to solve problems that I did not know the answer to, and it's okay to not know the answer, but it is not okay to do nothing about it. We need to start realizing it is our responsibility to work together to solve any problems we may have. Take an issue I have hear a lot about: the division is supposedly cutting 1 teaching position per school for next year. Now, if we believe that this is not a good thing, we need to get together and discuss it...and come up with solutions. And let's realize something: an "us" vs. "them" mentality is harmful...we know this. The "division" is not against student learning. The "division" is not different from "us". We are all educators; we are all here to make sure all students learn and succeed. I guess I just realized that although I am a relatively new teacher, I had already slipped into a rut of thinking that certain problems were beyond my control...but in reality - they are not. All we need to do is collaborate in a meaningful way. Sure, there are things that we cannot change...but let's focus on the things we can.
How I Welcome Newcomers to Online Teacher Professional Development (a/k/a the #MTBoS) and How You Can Too - Here is the promise: There is a community of math educators that meets online at all hours of the day. They trade support and resources and many of the edu...