Tch Tips: Teaching Collaboration Skills

Tch tips

We all want our students to work together. But how do we do it? True collaboration is much more than just having students work with each other. As teacher David Olio points out in this video, students often learn most deeply from their peers. Spending time teaching students how to collaborate will positively impact students’ learning.

But just as there is no one way to collaborate, there is no one way to teach collaboration. Use these tips to try out new ways to encourage students to work together!

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Getting Better Together: Collaborating Around Instructional Priorities

Getting Better Together

It’s nearly impossible to put into words what educators feel when the bell rings on the final day of school. The sheer joy of entering into weeks of bell-free, kid-free, and paper-free days alone is almost worth entering into the profession. In June, the new school year seems so far away. But, August does come. And we find ourselves at the beginning of the cycle all over again. Even more, we find ourselves hitting pause each January to reflect and adjust our course.

The school year begins to come into perspective for me after the baseball all-star game and before the start of NFL training camps (can you tell that I’m a sports fan?). After July 15th, August comes into sharp focus for educators across the country. However, if you waited until July to actually begin preparations for the new year, you might’ve been feeling a little pressure.

And now in January, it might feel like you’re starting all over again, as you revisit and reflect on the progress you’ve made so far and forge onward with your new and improved plans for the second half of the year. But no matter where you are in your planning and preparation, collaboration is a very important part of starting — and finishing — strong.

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The Human Side of Teacher Teams and PLCs

the human side of teachers teams and PLCs

When it comes right down to it, teaching in general, and working as part of a professional learning community (PLC) specifically, are very human endeavors. Our charge as educators and the interactions we have with each other in pursuit of that charge are very personal, indeed.

As such, it’s easy to forget when we’re in the throes of a PLC meeting and working on processes like writing SMART goals, that we’re dealing with people, and with all of the talents, knowledge, curiosities, skepticisms — and yes, baggage — they bring to the table.

By comparison, it’s easier to blindly forge through and tick off items on an agenda than to be in touch with and respond to the interpersonal dynamics that play out as those agenda items are executed. This is the road less traveled, in a sense; acknowledging and honoring the humanity of teacher teams, and not forgetting for an instant that everything we accomplish (or not) happens squarely in this context.

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Engaging Youth in Thoughtful Dialogue Across Distance & Difference

Across Distance and Difference

How could Syrian refugees transform a school in Los Angeles from 7,500 miles away?

Technology has truly opened classroom doors and communication between students in different schools or districts — whether nearby or across the country. Opportunities to engage with peers who may have different perspectives are becoming more and more common. For example, Jo Paraiso uses Google Hangouts with her students so they can talk with peers across the country.

However, it’s not so often, if ever, that you hear about students in South Los Angeles, Jordan, and Syria having the opportunity to speak to one another, and most definitely not about difficult issues impacting their respective communities. Through the Global Nomads Group’s Pulse program, Syrian and Jordanian students in Amman connected with peers in Los Angeles for a live conversation to do just that.

Pulse

Sharing a virtual reality experience, curricular resources, and live dialogue, the students learned about one another, the Syrian Refugee crisis, the challenges each community faced, and how they could take action in their own communities.

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3 Tips for Supporting ELLs Through Co-Teaching & Collaboration

Power of Collab ELL Blog Header

We know the saying “two heads are better than one.” And we know that our English Language Learner (ELL) students benefit from both content and language instruction. Now, how can we put our heads together to form and sustain effective collaborative teaming for ELLs?

Below we share three tips that can support teams, whether you’re new to working alongside another educator, or if you’ve been doing it for years. Remember, no matter how long we’ve been teaching, we’re never finished learning!

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The Power of Collaboration for ELLs

Power of Collab ELL Blog Header

As educators, we know the value of collaboration. We ask our students to do it daily, and we hopefully get to do it ourselves. In this new series, The Power of Collaboration for ELLs, we have a chance to see both teacher and student collaboration in action, supporting the learning of all students.

In this set of videos, we’re back in Waukesha, Wisconsin, where we first showed you co-teaching in a bilingual classroom at Banting Elementary. This time we visit Horning Middle School, where we get to learn from the collaboration between two content area teachers and an ELL specialist. Teachers Meredith Sweeney, Shannon Kay, and Chris Knutson create a learning environment that embraces the social nature of middle schoolers, while fostering simultaneous language and content learning for all their students, especially ELLs.

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Collaborative Coaching: Teacher-Centered Practices in Action

Tch Video Lounge 2.0 Blog

From the first all staff in-service at the conclusion of summer, to the end of the year checklist session, teachers are inundated with meetings. More specifically, teachers are overloaded with meetings that see them as actors and doers rather than collaborators.

The teacher-centered pre-observation conference shifts this narrative. This approach to the pre-observation meeting is more collaborative and less intimidating and in order to call attention to the nuances of this process, I created two interactive videos for Tch Video Lounge to help you notice how I approach coaching with the teacher taking the lead.

In The Teacher-Centered Pre-Observation Meeting, I model what this may look like with a second-year teacher, Marquis Colquitt. What I hope you glean from our interaction is that the meeting is collaborative, learning-focused, and practice-centered. Additionally, I hope you can clearly observe the principles that guide an effective pre-observation meeting.

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