My motto has always been, “Work smarter, not harder!”
This Helen Keller quote is another great one:
I’ve worked with several amazing coworkers who loved to collaborate and it made things much better! It’s an incredible sight to see 4-5 teachers sitting around a table, standards out, notebooks open, lesson plan books open, ideas flowing, and flair pens writing like crazy! The fact that so many intelligent, talented, creative individuals can come together, brainstorm, and share so many fantastic ideas is above and beyond priceless.
No matter where you fall on the “collaboration spectrum,” I thought I would share some successful tips that worked for myself and some of my past teammates!
#1 – Have a set day/time to collaborate.
Everyone on the team has advanced notice and has cleared their schedule. This usually happened for us when the kids went to Specials. But it can also happen before or after school.
#2 – Have an agenda and stick to it.
My friend Mel was our grade level chair at my previous school and she was A-MA-ZING! She always sent us an agenda of each week’s collaborative planning. She used our county’s instructional calendars and pacing guides to look ahead and would include upcoming units/concepts on the agenda. We knew what we were going to talk about and could plan ahead. I could pull certain activities or resources based on the agenda.
#3 – Have one spot to store all ideas and resources.
Everyone came to the table with several ideas and resources. But we had to have a way to store all of these things! So we used colored folders and a wire desk organizer to keep everything together and organized. The different colors are for the different subjects. As each of us were writing our lesson plans, we would refer to the folders and write in our ideas. When we needed to make copies, we would run down to the copy room with the resource, do our thing, and then bring the resource back to the correct folder. That was the key – keeping things organized even though 5-6 people are constantly digging through them and pulling them in and out.
When we were finished with a certain unit or topic, we would take out that folder and put it in our grade level filing cabinet. The key here is to STAY ORGANIZED! Keep the resources in the colored folders and use hanging files to sort the subjects (Reading, LA, Math, Science, Social studies, Health, etc.) That way when you need those resources again for review, reteaching, or the following year, you can put your hands on them with ease!
#4 – Bring snacks to the planning meeting.
This is no brainer. Food or candy can make things less stressful, more comfortable, and bring a smile to any party-pooper’s face! It can be as simple as a bag of chips or pretzels or as fancy as a breakfast casserole. Either way, food works. When I worked with Mel, we had a jar of grade level M&M’s. This made my life wonderful and horrible all at the same time! We had every flavor known to man. My fav – peanut butter. Delish!!! The only problem was that I couldn’t stop! We would all bring in more M&M’s when the jar got too low…it was a never-ending flow of awesomeness that didn’t do squat for my figure. It even got to the point where we bought this guy:
Oh yeah. It just got real. Thankfully, I have since curved my appetite for M&M’s. Discipline and will power are so tough…I think I can. I think I can.
#5 – Keep an open mind.
Just because someone brings an idea to the table doesn’t mean you have to use it. BUT – maybe something different would be fun for both you and your students! When you have an organizational system like I mentioned above, you can pick and choose the things you like. If a resource isn’t your style or you know it isn’t going to work with your group of students, you don’t have to use it. But at least it can still go in the resource file! I’ve sat in meetings where coworkers say rude and inappropriate comments to each other when sharing ideas. It’s those situations that cause resentment, frustration, anger, and make our profession even more difficult than it already is or should be.
(Click the quote above for a free printable!)
I hope that these tips are helpful for you and your coworkers. Collaboration can make this profession less stressful and bring us closer together.
Do you and your coworkers collaborate?
Do you plan together for the upcoming units and activities?
Do you split up the work load?
Do you have any coworkers that don’t like collaborate?
Or do you like to do it all on your own?
Let’s hear it – comment below!