E2 – Exemplify collaboration within the school.
To me, one essential element of collaboration within a school community is reflecting on one’s teaching with colleagues as a means to improve my instruction, and ability to be a valuable contributor to the school community. Over the past year, in my role as a mentee teacher, I have had the opportunity to participate in Collaborative Reflective Practice (CRP) time with four kindergarten/first grade teachers, the instructional coach, and the assistant head of school. I have had the opportunity to practice effective and consistent collaboration with my grade team through participating in these weekly meetings. Kuh (2006) discusses the connection between collaborative reflective practice and high student achievement. She discusses Vygotsky’s theory of development that posits that internalization of knowledge occurs through a dynamic socio-cultural context. I have grown and deepened my emergent teaching practice through these structured collaborate reflective meetings. The evidence I am presenting is an agenda from one of our CRP meetings.
I grew in my ability to collaborate effectively as a teacher through practicing the norms of CRPs. The norms require teachers to spend time reflecting at the beginning of each meeting, and then listen mindfully as each participant shares all work and ideas with positive and clear communication. I gained valuable experience with consistently sharing my ideas, and cultivating insight and knowledge with colleagues through weekly participation in CRPs.
I learned a process for collaborating with colleagues that will serve to improve my effectiveness as a teacher, and a contributor to my school community as I move forward in my teaching career.
I have seen the benefits to student learning over the past year as my colleagues and I have shared ideas and work. After every CRP, I have gained insight that has benefitted student learning and well being. For example, in one CRP we reflected on improving how to support students in their social/emotional development. In particular we formulated a plan for making playground agreements with the K/1 community. Due to the mindful process of our meeting, we were able to conduct a K/1 community meeting with the students that addressed all of the teacher’s concerns. Ultimately, the whole community honored agreements to keep the playground safe because of our collaborative reflective practice amongst teachers, and then amongst all the students.
Moving forward, I want to honor this collaborative reflective process in the new school community where I teach next year. I hope that the school I work for utilizes this model of collaboration. Regardless, I have learned valuable skills for communication and collaboration to grow my teaching practice and support student learning.
Kuh, Lisa. (2006). Teachers talk about teaching and school: collaboration and reflective practice via critical friends group. University of Washington. Seattle, WA.
Retrieved from: http://www.nsrfharmony.org/research.kuh.pdf