As we all navigate the beginning of the 2020 school year, the ability to collaborate is more important now than ever before. This is not only collaboration amongst our content teams, but collaboration across the country as a whole.
Three years ago I learned the power of Twitter. I grew my personal learning network from my individual school district to nationwide over night. I began to learn about the twitter chats that take place weekly and teachers across the globe can participate. These chats helped challenge my thinking and grow as an educator to be inclusive of all students backgrounds. I would recommend anyone who is new to education or looking to expand their learning to check out twitter. Here are three of my favorites-
- #leadupchat Saturdays at 8:00am CST
- #edchat Tuesdays at 6:00pm CST
- #EduAR Thursdays at 8:30pm CST
Along with Twitter I use Voxer on my iPhone as a way to communicate and connect with people everywhere. It is a great app that allows you to leave short voice messages as well as written messaging.
Narrowing the Scope
Collecting all sorts of resources across the nation is only a piece of the puzzle. The next step is to collaborate within your region to find partnerships and help all students and families be successful. This aspect is looking outside of the schools and working with businesses to build up partnerships to support student learning.
Right now everyone is struggling with what is to come next. When we look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs the base/foundation is the need for stability in the necessity’s; air, food, water, shelter, and clothing. This is not a time to be competitive with one another with test scores. This is a time to come together and determine how best to meet these needs for every single student. Everything else will follow.
Reach out to other school districts in the area and collaborate with one another. We are all in this together to help find solutions to better our nation.
Within our specific districts we need to look outside of our own content area and look for where students are coming and where they are going. This is vertical alignment. In my previous career I was an Algebra 1 teacher. In my role, I needed to know what prior knowledge they had so I could better meet their needs. I also needed to know where students were going so I could prepare them to be successful in their future classes.
It can be difficult to find time– especially if your vertical alignment is in other buildings. But as we have learned this past year, we don’t have to be in the same location to learn from one another. Set aside time to meet with different grade/content levels to learn from one another. Student needs will change every year, therefore, we must make this a regular practice within our schools each year.
Personal Learning Communities
In the state of Arkansas, there is a huge push for all schools to implement PLCs. I have shared before what a PLC is so I will not go into details on that right now. What I will share is that PLC have always been essential for student success, but now it is even more imperative than ever for all parts of education.
Teachers are being asked to do more and more every day; teaching students face to face, remotely, and virtually. Teachers must be given the time to meet with content level teams to answer the 4 questions of a PLC to make sure students are continuing to learn at high levels. With students being literally all over the place physically and academically these questions can help guide learning and ensure students meet the essential learning standards for each subject.
No matter where your district is on the PLC journey, every teacher can still make the decision to get started. Reach out on Twitter or neighboring school districts to see how to get started. We must make collaboration a priority for all stakeholders.