As important as support and collaboration are for the teachers in an academic environment

As important as support and collaboration are for the teachers in an academic environment, we have to distinguish between occasional meetings and interactions between educators in a hallway and ensuring that collaboration is a vital and meaningful component of a structured support system and planning activity. As Brian Oliver states, “authentic collaboration goes much deeper. To reap the benefits of true collaboration, it is important for schools to investigate the practice in depth and understand what distinguishes collaboration from all other interactions” (Oliver, B. 2007).
Rick and Becky DuFour and Robert Eaker provide a comprehensive and clear definition of collaboration. As stated in their handbook, “collaboration is a systematic process in which educators work together, interdependently, to analyze and impact professional practice in order to improve individual and collective results” ( Dufour, Dufour, Eaker, Many, 2006).
Strong goals must be present and represent what is truly important for students to accomplish and why. Students need to realize why they are doing what they doing, thus enabling them to be vested in the process. My school colleagues have helped me grow by making me stretch for success and taking me out of my comfort zone of isolation while involving me me in a collaborative planning process.
For the first time, the administration at my school is embracing an extended, dedicated time for a collaborative team of teachers to meet and focus on specific achievement goals for our 7th and 8th grade level preparation. It has also been established as a weekly, agenda driven activity, not an intermittent get together without purpose. Our conversations are succinct and productive, as each member has a road map to follow for where we wish to travel. These meetings have directly led to better student outcomes in a relatively short period of time. Judith Warren Little has written about the benefits of working together in collaborative teams. Her research shows that when real collaboration happens, teachers and parents can experience, “gains in student achievement, unforeseen solutions to , a reduction in teacher isolation, increased confidence among staff members, a desire to test new ideas, more support for new teachers, and an expanded repertoire of strategies, materials, and teaching approaches” ( Little, J, 2006).
Too many times as a new teacher, as Donald Rumsfeld used to say, “I don’t know, what I don’t know.” Teachers in my building and my Professional Learning Community within my city and beyond have shown me new strategies and made me aware of things had not even considered. My colleagues and other candidates at JHU have identified common goals and how to achieve them. These are not some mandated administrative goals that may be irrelevant but important, meaningful goals that have guided me to be able to create a welcoming environment that truly motivates my students to excel. These strategies can be implemented immediately in my class room after a discussion board has highlighted a solution.

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