“We will be working in groups for the next activity” …….. listen carefully as audible groans and sighs are heard all around the classroom. What is this aversion to working in groups? It is one of the most highly sought after soft skill organisations are looking for these days as it is estimated that eight out of 10 people work in teams.
The process of learning to cooperate with others begins very early in life – often it is a sandpit experience. A term I often use when asked what I do is that “I teach people how to play nicely in the sandpit”.
In response to some student’s exasperation for having to be in a group, an experienced teacher will explain that students who participate in cooperative learning will acquire greater knowledge, improve problem solving skills and even build relationships with other students.
Similarly, one of the professional standards for teachers is - Engage professionally with colleagues, parents/carers and the community. Teachers like to be in charge of their own classrooms, they like their own freedom to create the environment that they believe will help students to learn and get in their flow.
When teachers work in isolation, the school and outside communities are a poorer place. Their expertise and extensive experience operate and remains only within the classroom setting.
Are you working in isolation?
Do you cringe at the thought of another team meeting?
Do you appreciate the skills and talent your colleagues bring to the table?
Do you know the community you work in?
Are you excited to meet parents/carers?
Silos are environments where an organisation and its activities are compartmentalised. An environment where information, tools, resources and priorities are not shared with each other. It is reasonable to believe a silo mentality impacts staff morale, reduces the benefits of shared knowledge and productive working relationships.
Yet the question remains for meeting this professional standard – how are we engaging professionally with colleagues, parents/carers and the community?
Here are some suggestions on how you can improve your engagements:
Engaging with colleagues:
Encourage knowledge sharing – create a system to share knowledge
Share expertise – be a mentor
Participate in cross school projects and activities
Teacher/manager – use coaching conversations to encourage staff
Challenge yourself to break down silos and build relationships
Engaging with parents/carers:
Be aware of students social, religious and cultural backgrounds
Meet with parents/carers in a venue other than the school environment
Provide mini workshops on issues facing students at school
Ensure use of a variety of mediums to communicate – social media, newsletters, blogs
Engaging with the community:
Sharing ideas with the community
Participating in community events – sporting, social and cultural
Give back to the community – be a volunteer
Do podcasts and share your knowledge
Asking the community what resources and support they need to be successful?
Image by Jasleen Kaur under flicr cc Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0) license