Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Collaboration

Collaboration is a way of integrating ECE students into a mainstream classroom. Sometimes collaboration works really well. Other times, it's not so great. What is it? A regular education teacher and an ECE teacher teach a class together. The regular education teacher is responsible for creating the lesson plan, but both teachers are equal authority figures in the classroom.

Collaboration is a lot like marriage and parenting. When it's good, it's great. When it's bad? It's bad for everyone. Sometimes the parents don't get along, for whatever reason, and that can show in their teaching. Unfortunately, teachers don't get to pick who they collaborate with. Sometimes it's a trial and error process. The best collaboration situations use a lot of give and take.

Just like with parenting, you have to present a united front to your children. Unless someone is horribly in danger, agree with your collaborating teacher in class and discuss any issues you have when there aren't students around. In front of class is not the time to debate discipline techniques.

Another form of collaboration in my school is called ESS, Extended School Services. Once a week, I was able to have a veteran teacher in my classroom for the entire day. Collaborating with her was one of my favorite parts of the school year. Not only was she very knowledgeable, but we also played very well off of one another. I never had to worry much about discipline, because she was right there to back me up if we had a problem. We always presented a united front and stood together on all issues in the classroom. Whenever she had a suggestion, she also made the suggestion when we were alone.

Aside from the obvious benefits to students, such as having two teaching styles in the room, having two people to answer questions and having two teachers in case a student doesn't get along with one teacher, collaboration is good for teachers. Why? Because sometimes being holed up in a classroom all day with only teenagers as your companions can get tiring. It's nice to have another adult with whom you can talk. It also helps keep you fresh. It's very easy to hole yourself up in your room and never grow and adapt as an education. With another adult in the room, you can change your teaching strategies to better help your students.

If only there were enough money and teachers to have two teachers in every classroom. Bill Gates? Oprah? What do you think?

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