I saw that quote on the Internet and really liked it. There is a big tendency amongst teachers to be secretive about their ideas. It’s almost like we are still at school and everyone is vying to be teacher’s pet. People are vague about where they got ideas for their display boards or that lovely behaviour management poster. It’s like we don’t want to share because then everyone is using our idea and we loose out on the chance to shine, the chance to be the super teacher.
But that’s a nonsense.
We teach children to share, we actively and explicitly teach skills such as turn-taking, group work and collaboration. How is it that we can target things for our pupils that we don’t practise in our own professional lives?
If you are in teaching because you want to shine, because you want people to think you are marvellous and wonder at the beauty of your carefully coordinated classroom then you have the wrong focus. The focus is your students, not you. You are part of a team, a team who wants your pupils to succeed and not just for the year that they are in your class but for their whole academic career and into adult life. We need to be team players.
Part of being a team is that everyone has different strengths. Some people will be better than you in some areas, you will be more skilled than them in others. It’s about pulling all those different skills together to create a strong team.
Collaboration is important.
Your job is much bigger than just you.
I am very fortunate to have a friend in work in the same key stage as me who is always on hand to talk through ideas and plans with me, just like I’m always happy do the same for her. Now if we find a really good resource we just copy an extra set and leave it in each other’s pigeon hole. It’s no big deal sharing and collaborating with her because it’s become part of my day.
It’s even nice just to have someone who doesn’t think you’re weird when you have off the wall ideas. Infact most of the time she will join in and help me plan whatever it is.
My best friend is also one of my best collaborators. She’s a graphic designer and has no background in teaching at all; but she listens to my ideas for work, makes suggestions and offers her own ideas. I do the same for her. We don’t always go with each other’s ideas, but it’s really useful to see things from another point of view, a point of view that bit removed from the situation and setting. It allows for more creativity and out of the box thinking. We now joke that our brains are just extensions of each other’s because we’ve shared so much professional knowledge.
I also have a Personal Learning Network on Twitter, mostly people that I’ve never met in real life but whose practice inspires my practice and whose ideas and thoughts act as catalysts for my own. Like a pinball machine, my ideas bounce off theirs and become better for it. I can’t recommend Twitter enough as a method for teachers to get new inspiring ideas. Even if someone isn’t in the same sector of education as you, you can still catch their enthusiasm and appreciate their practice. Being around teachers, trying to be the best they can be, makes me want to be the best I can be.
This whole approach to collaboration among teachers and my own experience of its benefits made me think. I’d just got an email from a friend looking for advice about podcasting in her foundation stage class, something I hadn’t done before. But I was sure someone I knew somewhere would be an expert in it. We just need to share the knowledge. So I decided to organise a get together for foundation stage teachers who are passionate about using educational technology. I love chatting with others people who do what I do, sharing ideas and practice and just feeling like part of a little community. Our initial get together is a swap shop of our favourite FS Edtech ideas for iPad at the end of September. It’s going to be very informal, just chatting over coffee and chatting about how we use iPads as tools in teaching creative and purposeful lessons. Then we can swap details to build connections and allow for more collaborating. If it works we can all meet up again at the start of next term. So far I have over ten people signed up to come, from eight schools, in four different board areas.
I’m excited and a little bit nervous.
I think it’s going to good.
It’s nice to share.