Co-blabber…no. Co-labor…yes. Collaboration can be a powerful thing, but it is more than just sporadically sitting in a room and goes beyond just having a surface-level conversation. And it is not easy. It takes respect. It takes trust. It takes commitment. I believe that our LA 10 team works because we are engaged in true collaboration.
No one forced Monte Syrie, Maddie Alderete, and I to work together. It was a decision that each of us made last Spring. We wanted to move from the mindset of “I’m a 10th grade LA teacher” to “I’m a member of the 10th grade LA team”. We knew we wanted to make this change, but we also knew that it would take work. A lot. And that work would be ongoing. So, we had to make some changes. We could no longer continue to do things as we’ve always done them.
To start, we knew we needed to dedicate time, consistently, to meeting with each other throughout the school year. Now, I think any teacher out there would agree that the morning is precious time. Before the kids arrive, before school starts, it’s the time when we prep for the day. But, those things now have to get done earlier because we meet as a team every Monday, Wednesday, and most Thursdays from 7:30-8:00. Sometimes we talk about the plan for the day or week. Sometimes we talk about questions we have. Sometimes we talk about issues that have risen to the surface. But, the focus is always on our students, what we’re doing, and why we’re doing it.
Aside from the time I spend in my classroom with my kids, this is the most important part of my day. It isn’t always easy. Sometimes we don’t see eye-to-eye on an idea. But we don’t just give up and quickly move on. We take the time needed for each person to explain his/her disconnects or struggles. We talk it through, and sometimes it takes more than one morning to sort it all out. But in the end we arrive at a place that we’re all comfortable with because we are committed to the group, and our group works. Why? Well, 1) We like each other. 2) We have similar worldviews. 3) We are willing to have open and honest conversations even if that means asking each other the difficult questions.
And now, only a few months in, I know this team is an essential part of what I do. Regardless of what is going on, I know I have my team to come back to. They are my support system, my co-laborers, my teammates. And I couldn’t imagine doing this job without them.
Do. Reflect. Do Better.