SOLSC: March 5, 2016 & Celebrate This Week:Conversation

 

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Write. Share. Give. Join the March Slice of Life Story Challenge @ Two Writing Teachers

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Celebrate with Ruth Ayres @ ruth ayres writes  …. because, we need to celebrate moments in our lives every chance we get!

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Today I want to celebrate conversation as it appeared in my week…

I so benefitted from the conversation that took place after Vicki Vinton and her teaching team from Cranford observed our reading and writing workshops on Wednesday.  I’ve been teaching for a long time now in the same room and in at the same grade level; and for the most part, the only conversations I have during the school day are with my students.  I didn’t realize how much I needed to have a conversation about my practice, and by that I mean the real time and moment to moment practice that is my teaching life.  I believe that it is so important for teachers to visit each others rooms, and share observations and offer guidance and support.  That kind of collegiality grows ones practice, and also grows ones school.  It was so informative to me to be asked questions about why I do what I do, why I think it works (or how it can be improved), and how I make decisions about everything from classroom organization to assessment.   Being questioned about my practice and having to articulate the shape and form of all its various puzzle pieces, allows me to evaluate the essence of my teaching life – from big picture, to the nitty gritty.

Sometimes, I feel as though our classrooms become echo chambers of our own solitary voices – each teacher trying to figure it all out just for herself or himself within the four walls of our teaching space. But teaching is really a collaborative art, and it’s our collective voices in conversation with each other that raises the bar on our individual practice.  And when I say “collaborative”, I don’t mean what that word has come to mean in some of our buildings – the sharing of activities, projects, graphic organizers, and bulletin board ideas. That’s collaboration in its most elemental and simplistic form, a kind of collaboration on only the outward manifestation of our teaching practices.

I think true collaboration goes much deeper – it comes from a stance of always questioning our practice: from our foundational ideas, the stuff that forms the very heart of what we believe teaching to be, to the often shifting and changing landscape of how to best teach our children as we know more about the way they best learn.  That kind of collaboration can be risky, for it takes trust and the willingness to be transparent.  And in our current of high stakes evaluations and testing, who wants to take more risks?

I have been thinking about all of this all the more so since Wednesday.  And once again, I am grateful to the ongoing collaboration that is my online PLN.   It’s through these conversations that I feel myself grow as a teacher…to collaborate on behalf of our profession.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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25 thoughts on “SOLSC: March 5, 2016 & Celebrate This Week:Conversation

  1. Reblogged this on matenglishblog and commented:
    Collegiality vs echo chambers
    This is really an awesome post. Thankmyou for sharing. I would like to share it both with my students and with my fellow colleagues. Hope they will read this inspiring article.

  2. Love this. I was part of a collaborative inquiry group last year and we visited each other’s classes a couple of times and then really considered our common practices and how we could be doing better. It was hard to put myself out there, to be the one hosting everyone. But it was so helpful!

  3. Tara,
    So wise . . .
    True collaboration is not “show and tell” but . . .

    “I think true collaboration goes much deeper – it comes from a stance of always questioning our practice: from our foundational ideas, the stuff that forms the very heart of what we believe teaching to be, to the often shifting and changing landscape of how to best teach our children as we know more about the way they best learn.” ❤

    Brilliant, my friend!

  4. In a brand-new school, we are slowly building trust and for now, at least collaborating by show-n-tell as Fran says which is a start. Your post articulates the goal so well. Thanks for your clarity!

  5. Isn’t it lovely to have people in your corner that will challenge, stretch, and encourage you after many years of being in the classroom? I absolutely could NOT do this job without my tribe!!! I, too, am thankful for conversation!

  6. You and I have talked about this before, and I believe that it’s critical to keep talking about our teaching. You’re written it so well today, “it comes from a stance of always questioning our practice.” Stagnant, “this is the way that’s worked before” words don’t help anyone grow in their practices. What if others said this? I imagine a dentist of years ago still using the liquor to keep someone’s pain away: “This is what’s always worked!” Happy for you that you had your wonderful visitors, and that equally marvelous conversation.

  7. I like how you define collaboration as having beliefs about teaching and learning as its foundation. And that true collaboration expects trust and risk taking. Inspirational piece.

  8. These lines are so true and powerful!
    I think true collaboration goes much deeper – it comes from a stance of always questioning our practice: from our foundational ideas, the stuff that forms the very heart of what we believe teaching to be, to the often shifting and changing landscape of how to best teach our children as we know more about the way they best learn. That kind of collaboration can be risky, for it takes trust and the willingness to be transparent.

    This is why we love what we do — we love learning with teachers – thinking, questioning, creating and laughing. Thank you for sharing – this is so important for us to remember. Teachers need time to be together and learn from each other.
    Clare

  9. Watch out, your wisdom is showing. You are such a deep thinker. This line stood out to me, “I think true collaboration goes much deeper – it comes from a stance of always questioning our practice: from our foundational ideas,” True collaboration is so rare and so needed.

  10. Tara, what you said rings true to me: “Sometimes, I feel as though our classrooms become echo chambers of our own solitary voices – each teacher trying to figure it all out just for herself or himself within the four walls of our teaching space. ” In the connected educator world, we are trying to move out of the silos of loneliness and collaborate more with others to find hope in what we do, hone our practices, and impact our students’ learning. What you said is powerful in a world filled with dissonance. “That kind of collaboration can be risky, for it takes trust and the willingness to be transparent. And in our current of high stakes evaluations and testing, who wants to take more risks?” If we are to move forward, we have to take risks and these safe blogging environments our feelings can come out. Thanks for expressing what you felt that many teachers are feeling.

  11. My district has a hard time with true collaboration, so this line stuck out for me. “That kind of collaboration can be risky, for it takes trust and the willingness to be transparent.” Wonderful thinking here today Tara. I would come and watch you teach any day! Ahh…the learning that could take place.

  12. What a wonderful opportunity you had to reflect on your practice in real-time with Vicki and other colleagues. It is a critical PD that everyone needs. We actually call our coaching model “job-embedded PD”, because it requires that deep reflection and trust.
    The line that struck me the most:
    true collaboration goes much deeper – it comes from a stance of always questioning our practice.
    This is a true belief of mine as well.

  13. I love your take on the deep level of collaboration. It is definitely risky, and for many it is hard to be vulnerable and dig deep into their own thinking before even sharing it. My job this year is as a coach/mentor for beginning teachers and this is the kind of thinking we are aiming for. But I see so often teachers (new and old) wanting to stay on the surface and deal in those activities and projects…wanting to stay behind their own closed doors. You are so right that we will grow ourselves if we venture out and let others in to question us. Thank you for opening up here.

  14. “Sometimes, I feel as though our classrooms become echo chambers of our own solitary voices – each teacher trying to figure it all out just for herself or himself within the four walls of our teaching space.”

    I love this line so much, and totally agree with you!

  15. Tara,

    You know you and I feel the same way about this. I do think that a lot of “collaboration” is more surface level (activities, bulletin boards, etc). as you mentioned. And I agree that true collaboration should go deeper. It’s hard for me to understand why it’s so hard for me to find someone to really talk to about teaching when I”m surrounded by teachers. I think time is a big issue, and also the trust that you mentioned. So hard to be vulnerable!

    And so, like you, I’m grateful for my online PLN. How’s this for daydreaming: can you imagine if we could gather all the best from our PLN and all teach at the same school? And, since this is a dream anyway, the school could teleport itself: here in the desert during say, Jan. & Feb., New England in the Fall….!

    Who is Vicki’s teaching team from Cranford? Who are these teachers she’s working with? How is she working with them?

    And how cool that she brought them to your school. No better demonstration classroom!

  16. I definitely relate to this slice. Fortunately, I have been paired with a collaborating teacher this school year for one class period; and the two of us have 65 minutes a day when we can put our heads together and really work with our students. It has been a wonderful experience!

  17. I forget how lucky I am in my role because my job is to work together with teachers, reflecting and collaborating about student growth in real time all the time. Your post reminds me of this. Finding people who will push our practice and take risks along with us is so important in life. I’m happy to learn with you, Tara.

  18. What can I say that hasn’t been said. Thanks for writing such a thought filled post on collaboration. This is what makes you the teacher you are.

  19. Once again, Tara, your wisdom shines through in this post. I’ll be keeping your thoughts about deeper, more meaningful collaboration in mind as I prepare for time to meet with my colleagues this week.

  20. Tara, what you are writing about here are rich and powerful conversations that reflective educators wrap around their important work. Conversations that examine the efficacy of practice. I particularly enjoyed reading,’I think true collaboration goes much deeper – it comes from a stance of always questioning our practice: from our foundational ideas, the stuff that forms the very heart of what we believe teaching to be, to the often shifting and changing landscape of how to best teach our children as we know more about the way they best learn.’
    Your PLN is located in a healthy place with this guiding your practice. Congratulations…

  21. Collaboration, trust, sharing – how necessary for it to happen. I treasured those times when we sat informally in one another’s classrooms and just talked – about issues, concerns – but also laughed and enjoyed each other. I still miss that

  22. This went deep Tara. I couldn’t agree more. My teaching life and my reading life is so much better since I found a collaborative group of people. I wish I had this in my own school. It feels more like a competition instead of a collaborative.

  23. Brilliant thoughts! I am a single section teacher this year, and I’m learning the culture of a new school. I’m not sure if it involves talking about teaching or not. I had this authentic PLC in my old position, but am missing this conversation piece greatly this year. I agree, it is so important to stay reflective and tentative in our teaching. Thank you.

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