Collaboration…sometimes meaningful or always superficial?

There are two kinds of specialist (single subject) teachers. The ones who do everything they can to use the unit of inquiry and central idea to encourage inquiry in their subject area…..and then there’s the ones who say they are collaborating and working within the PYP framework, but end up following the same old subject specific skill development based programs that they always have.

Unfortunately the latter are still far too common in PYP schools. This is a big problem! This overwhelming number of teachers who refuse to “get with the program” are handicapping those of us who are progressive and driven. Our worth as single subject teachers within the school community is devalued by our own peers.

By refusing to collaborate and work with classroom teachers in a meaningful way these teachers (and I say teachers and not educators to highlight a point) are so stuck in the ways of the past that they are probably still photocopying from a text book, carrying a clipboard, wearing their socks up to high and demanding 10 pushups for every failure.

There is a reason that “Best Practice” is a buzz word amongst educators these days. The reason is that it benefits the kids. Isn’t that what we are here for? Not to be lazy and rely on the same old programs we always have. “Best Practice” is always changing. Just because it was “Best Practice” when you graduated university, doesn’t make it “Best Practice” now.

I agree there is a time and place for subject specific content, skills and knowledge but we cant lose sight of the curriculum that we are working within. I also recognise its not always possible to meaningful to connect to every unit.
Yes, the PYP can be open and interpreted in a number of ways, but we can’t lose sight that its the children who drive the inquiries, not us. We are merely there to facilitate and guide them.
To do this effectively we must be meeting with the classroom teachers on a regular basis and suggesting ways of working together to achieve a common goal.

So give up your coffee break, stay late after school, or have a beer with your colleagues after work, but lets all get on the same page. The first step is to get with the times. Sign up for Twitter. Follow some other like minded educators. Embrace hand held learning (our kids are plugged in constantly so why shouldn’t we). Forget what you know. Stop teaching the things you learnt in school. Get with the program.

This way we are a group of educators can earn back some of the respect we have lost. We can demolish the stereotype of someone who “takes my kids to play so I can have planning time” and start to be seen as one of the most important members of the school community.

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