One of the reasons teachers can sometimes be hesitant to share practice is this pressure to conform. Quite often in schools we confuse collaboration with conformity.
In the name of consistency teachers are told they need to keep their classroom programmes the same least the parents compare. That would be fantastic if all children think the same and teachers taught the same. Of course, you’d also be happy with students doing the same things at the same time.
Conform, conform, conform.
Yet the beauty of a concept-driven curriculum of the PYP is that children can have different learning engagements and slightly different tasks yet still talk to each other about their learning.
There’s so much I love about this photo.
The utter engagement in the task, the closeness of the girls, the peer and self assessment. However, the girl in the middle is not in my class. This afternoon we mixed things up by having a sharing session about our current unit.
Both the teacher next door and I have very strong ideas about learning. We often go off in different directions during units in response to students’ interests and learning needs.
Even the summative task the children completed had a slightly different twist in the classes. Yet here are kids engaged talking confident, asking relevant questions and building on their understanding based on different experiences.
My children felt their learning had been enhanced through this dialogue because the other class bought fresh perspective to the unit.
Some school cultures don’t support teachers to modify units and approaches in order to personalise learning. In that environment it can easier for teachers to say one thing in planning meetings and do something else behind closed classroom doors. Or even worse, say nothing and go along with plans they feel don’t meet the needs of the children they teach in order to keep the peace.
If we are really serious about making powerful and meaningful learning experiences, then we need to embrace collaboration in the truest sense of the word – to work with each other. Do we have the courage?
- Courage in concepts to drive children’s understanding rather than content
- Courage from our fellow teachers to know their kids, their curriculum and to speak up
- Courage in our kids to make connections between experiences
- Courage from our school leaders to forgo consistency
- Courage that our parent community is open to new ideas about teaching and learning