Wikipedia defines collaboration as: working together to achieve a goal.
As teachers, we know it when we see it, when it comes to our students, but what does collaboration look like when you are working with the teachers on your grade level? There are different models that work with different teams because teams, like classes, are made up of people with different personalities, experiences, and skills.
Personalities can be the glue that holds a team together or it can work as a wedge to drive people apart. It is helpful if you know and understand each person’s personality on your team. There are many ways to define personality and the internet has quizzes your team can take to define theirs. Just like we want “common language” among grade levels when teaching phonics, “common language” of personalities is beneficial, as well. You can google personality tests and find several types. My favorites are:
Another helpful thing to discuss with your team members is defining each person’s thinking style when making a decision. As a team of teachers, you make many decisions together in a school year. Some examples are: “Where are we going on our field trip?” “How are we going to split up our duties?” “Who is responsible for ordering the supplies?” Edward de Bono, in his book, 6 Thinking Hats, created a tool that is used to look at decisions from different perspectives.
The red hat thinker looks at problems using intuition, gut reaction, or emotions.
The black hat thinker is your “Devil’s advocate”. This person looks at all the bad points of a decision. This person is an important member of the team because he or she will point out all of the weak points in a plan so you can try to fix them ahead of time.
To read more about this, click HERE.
As a team, you need to discuss what collaboration will look like on your team. Remember there are different models. What may work for the grade level above you, may not work with your team. How will you divide up the duties and responsibilities? How will you communicate so everyone is on the same page?
With the school year soon coming to a close, this is a great time to do some reflecting about your team. What worked well? What needs some improvement? Remember a cohesive, effective team is always evolving.
Here is a form you can use when you need to make a team decision: