"There is no one way"

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Teacher Collaboration

I posted a new version of slides on teacher collaboration on my Teaching page.

I had created the original version with Jonathan Howland (Dean of Faculty at the Urban School) about five years ago, for an audience of independent school leaders. Today, I presented a (slightly) new version to a group of math teachers and department chairs at the Asilomar conference of the California Math Council. I managed to give my talk in about 35 minutes, and then we had almost an hour of discussion about collaboration in very different schools. Every school is at a different level of development in this respect, and every school does it differently -- which made for a rich and interesting discussion.

One key point was made by Carlos Cabana of San Lorenzo High School: just like students need group-worthy activities to work on in a group, teachers need a common goal to collaborate on. At his school: figuring out how to work with heterogeneous classes. At Urban, we have that issue as well, plus the need to develop our curriculum since so much of it is homegrown. Carlos also mentioned the importance of social time together. Others pointed out the usefulness of spending time in each others' classes. Yet others discussed their frustrations with colleagues who were not interested in collaborating.

The best advice to those who want to get started on this road was to start with whoever agrees to work together, and not stress about the others. They will come around eventually.

Here's to the hope that we can continue this conversation!

--Henri

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