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