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Reflections on Collaboration

From March 7th Presentation to Faculty

THEME: Modeling Effective Collaboration with our Teaching Colleagues

Working together, we develop stronger ideas to serve students more effectively.

Group Members: Ann Harris, Frederick Hotz, Craig Savage, Isobel Betzer, Marty West, Karen O'Rear
Notes on Roundtable Topics (Group Secretaries: add notes in the spaces below)
        a) Comments and reactions to Shirky video (optional)

Lots of collaboration happening in the world.  It was a very interesting contrast between civic value and communal value, said Mark.  Dr. Ramsey – each has an important value.    Awareness of global issues increases the feeling of a global community, however at this time the US government is  considering a major decrease of aid to global need.   Giving and need fatigue seems to be setting in after major tragedies like the Haiti earthquake.  (Gordon Group)

1.       Ridiculous buzzwords mentioned in video —

a.       cognitive surplus, cultural generosity…

b.      lolcats as examples of creative collaboration

c.       couch potatoes of the nineties were so b/c they had no other options?!?

d.      Advertisement for using tech.

2.       Central message of collaboration was a good one, but giving direction as to the PURPOSE of collaboration is essential.  Collaboration in itself isn’t necessarily good.

3.       What applications to our practice?

a.       Aligning curriculum across boundaries of discipline.  How does one subject impact another?

b.      We have already begun that process: at the beginning of the year, we had productive conversations with our Four-C groups.

        b) Examples of ways we collaborate effectively at Parish

 1.      Collaboration in community service is significant

2.      Middle school does so much more collaboration - chooses a theme and carries it through the year

3.      Emerging collaboration between American history and English in the junior year - American Studies / sort of like Humanitites

4.      World History, World Literature, World Religions

5.      Foreign language is set up that way - because the courses are sequential (We encourage mucho collaboration among students)

6.       Discussions about best practices.

7.       Observing each other’s classes (inside and outside of department)

8.       Wikis & blogs.

9.       PETI, especially collaboration for rewriting English and History curricula this summer.

10.   Informal passing-on of information.

11.  Check in with horizontal team teachers in subject/grade level

12.  Walk-in office visits/discussion

13.  Sharing of assignments and rubrics

14.  Using department meetings to discuss specific initiatives and goals at the departmental level

15.  E-mail communication and sharing of materials 

16.  **We’re open to working together: We’re congenial with one another; we have collegiality

17.  Our in-service days are allotted for department meetings where we can discuss

18.  We allow for cross department teacher evaluations

19.  We’ve been working together on the 4 c’s in faculty meetings

        c) Potential ways that we could collaborate more effectively at Parish

1.      If we could have common planning periods

2.      **We could have grade level meetings during the day

3.      It would be ideal to talk about what kinds of collaboration we could do – we need ideas

4.       We don’t actually know what each other are doing…curriculum mapping was a good start, but it didn’t quite get going…and it was aligned vertically.

5.       Hire someone to be a student, go class-to-class with the kids, and see connections between disciplines…this perspective would help us collaborate.

6.      Grade level meetings across disciplines

7.      Administrative facilitation of idea dissemination

8.      Asking students to brainstorm ideas

9.      Happy hours 

10.    I would like to do some more collaboration with college counseling...


        d) Potential obstacles to collaboration at Parish
Collaboration has become more difficult as the school has grown larger
"I collaborate with myself well" - only one teacher teaching a particular subject area
Each course is its own fiefdom - we're working within the department to collaborate amond teachers who work in the same course area
Much of our collaboration is just chats in the hallway / informal class visits
Frustrating for students
Confusion about goals and the best ways to achieve them…tech obviously is trial and error.  Process, process, process
We ask plenty of questions, and have plenty of beginnings, but we don’t focus time and effort on implementation…many of these sessions lead to ideas for fundamental sweeping change, but little happens

Fear, insecurity and availability are some obstacles

Student orientation

·         Does everyone know what the difference is between “group work” and “collaboration”?

·         Collaboration/collaborative projects take time

·         Unequal participation within a group

Faculty orientation

·         Time for meeting together is as problem

·         We don’t have physical space commonality – we work so far apart

·         Growing number of faculty