Collaborating through the Challenges


At my school, we are using, by my count, three brand new programs – one each in literacy, math, and phonics. To say it is overwhelming is something of an understatement. Each of my colleagues has something to say, some of it positive and some negative, about the new materials.

As we try to figure out the most effective ways to use the shiny new products, I am experiencing more collaboration with grade level colleagues than I have in the past. There is a steady exchange of graphic organizers, lesson plans, and ideas. If nothing else, it’s nice to know that – despite being the only one in the group teaching self-contained special ed – the island I’m usually on is not so far from the mainland anymore.

I’m in my fifth year of teaching now and am first taking steps now to collaborate with a broad range of colleagues. Part of what makes it so rewarding is that it is totally grassroots. The ones who began the collaborative push did so of their own volition and on their own time. I was a little late to the dance and have to find ways to contribute more.

I don’t use every material passed along to me. However, if nothing else, a seed is planted in my head to help me consider my own next steps. Perhaps we use different formats – or write with a different degree of detail – for our lesson plans, but being provided a basic framework means I have a starting point. There is less work for everyone involved, and all that’s left to do is adjust plans to meet student needs.

I think it’s a tremendous step that this group has taken it upon itself to work together to lessen the burden and challenge of a wholesale change from what we’ve always known. There’s definitely a benefit to my students and colleagues.

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