Stop! Collaborate and Listen

image source: www.bigstockphoto.com
image source: www.bigstockphoto.com

How often do you talk to other teachers? What do you usually talk about? Do you openly share ideas? I think for many educators, teaching can often be a very solitary job, (especially when first starting out). Of course, we are usually surrounded by many students, colleagues, and staff at our schools on a daily basis. But when it comes to certain fundamental aspects of teaching, like planning and reflection, a lot of teachers around the world do these alone. I think it is extremely unfortunate if you are one of these teachers because I have witnessed first-hand how teachers can grow and develop at an accelerated rate when they collaborate with their peers.

Why?
In my previous teaching position I was part of a wonderful and supportive teaching team. We would always share ideas and resources, which not only made lesson planning easier, but also introduced new activities and approaches to teaching that I would have never come up with on my own. Working in that kind of environment made it a pleasure to walk into the teachers’ office each day.

How?
It might seem scary at first to ask a peer or colleague for assistance, but trust me — the rewards are well worth it. It’s great if you can start a collaborative group at your workplace, but if you are not comfortable with that idea, then there are many other avenues of collaboration available to teachers these days. You can connect with teacher friends in other schools, join Facebook groups, or connect with teachers from around the world via Twitter.

Rewards
Once you’ve planted the collaborative seed, you will be amazed at how fast it grows. Since planting this idea at my current workplace, I’ve been amazed at how eagerly teachers have bought into the concept. Observing the results has been wonderful!

So, I wholeheartedly encourage you to be brave and start a collaborative community in your area. I’m sure it won’t be long before you reap the rewards!

Are you part of a collaborative teaching group? How did you get started? Share your tips and advice with us! I look forward to reading your comments!

POST COMMENT 6

6 thoughts on “Stop! Collaborate and Listen”

  1. I’m so glad you are writing about this topic. Our Windsor affiliate of TESL Ontario has just started a resource sharing committee (after over a year trying to get it off the ground). I believe our first act will be to do a needs assessment in order to determine where / how we wish to share our resources. The goal of the first question will be to determine how many are already using Tutela to upload / download resources, how many find that platform easy to search / use.

    On a related note, there is a new forum for LINC instructors on Twitter. It’s #LINCchat. I really like it because in addition to supporting one another and discussing the triumphs and challenges unique to our ESL niche, we always end up sharing resources and links to sites we recommend. But when I’ve told my colleagues about it, the first response has been, “But first I have to learn to use Twitter.” Nathan Hall has created a great little video to help newbies get started. http://joyofesl.blogspot.ca/2015/10/lincchat-new-forum-for-linc-instructors.html

    Finally, I wish to say that one of the common courtesies that helps build a community in the blogosphere is for readers to comment, not just LIKE or G+. When someone takes the time to comment on your blog, it is common courtesy to reciprocate by visiting that person’s blog. You could even add that person’s blog to your blog roll on your sidebar. In this way, a community of people blogging on the same topic is built and strengthened.

    Especially now that so many of us are embarking on PBLA at the same time, I hope more educators will open up to resource sharing and community building through social media like Twitter and blogging.

    1. Hi Kelly,

      Thank you for your detailed comment! It’s great to hear about the resource sharing committee in Windsor. I would love to hear more about how it goes once things are up and running.

      I’m not involved in LINC myself, but I think the #LINCchat is a great way for teachers to connect and share ideas. Perhaps someday one of the moderators of #LINCchat can present at a future conference to help build awareness for the many LINC teachers across the country.

      Thanks for the link on using Twitter! After avoiding Twitter for many years, I’m finally starting to use it and I can see how beneficial it is for connecting with like-minded teachers from around the world.

      Thanks again for your comment!

    2. Hi Kelly M,

      I really like #LINC chat too. I am slowly getting used to the features Twitter has to offer. Being able to connect with other instructors in real time is important for me as I work from home (LINC Home Study Instructor/Tutela support)

      Many organizations are also using the Groups section on Tutela as a drop box to share resources, a place to meet or do internal PD. The next Tutela upgrade will be released in Jan 2016 which will introduce improvements to the resource and group areas and increase the speed.

      Thanks for sharing!

      1. Awesome. I hope the next iteration of Tutela will have search features that meet industry (web design) best practices. Also hope they do away with the text that bobs up and down. If they redesign the interface with ease of use in mind, I will happily give it a second try. 😉

  2. This article touches a very important point for the field of teaching. It benefits no one when teachers don’t share whereas students are able to reap the most benefits from teacher collaboration. I feel that should be our goal especially in LINC where we are trying to truly help people in their new home. At LINC home study, we collaborate. I just have to send out one email for help and I get several back with lesson plans[ready to go] or just resources and offers of further help in case I get stuck. Having co-workers like that makes my job and the struggles that we all face as teachers, much easier to deal with.

    1. Hi Uzma,

      I couldn’t agree with you more. We all have challenges as teachers and I think those challenges become increasingly more difficult when you face them alone. I’m glad to hear you have a support system that you can rely on whenever you need ideas/resources.

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