Teaching can be very isolating. It’s ironic that I’m surrounded by more than 20 people all the time, and yet I often feel strikingly alone. There is no scheduled collaborative teacher time on most days, so long periods of time can go by without shared thinking, planning, debriefing, reflecting. This is an enormous lost opportunity.
I just got home from attending a teaching conference. It’s almost irrelevant what the focus of the conference was or what sessions I went to or what the presenters said; what matters is that I talked with other teachers. And not just a passing, “Hey, good morning! How was your weekend?” or “Yeah, did you hear that tantrum?” or “Thank goodness it’s almost Friday!” I had the time to really sit with teachers and talk about our classrooms, our students, our schedules, our ideas, our challenges.
In between the scheduled parts of the event, I learned how the atmosphere in one teacher’s room was transformed when she shifted furniture around to make more nooks and crannies. I brainstormed with another teacher around how to change distractions into productive content. I played a math game that will be perfect for one of my kids. I swapped favorite children’s books for teaching about perspective. I re-articulated for myself why I do what I do and why I care about the things that I care about. It’s now Sunday night, and I have energy and ideas to pack in my bag for school tomorrow.
And see, the thing is, this could happen a lot more often if there were time for teachers to talk with each other! Imagine if planning was nearly always collaborative. Imagine if there was scheduled time to sit down and problem-solve together. Imagine if there were opportunities to share documentation of and debrief important learning moments.
I know I would be a much better teacher.
[I suppose this means I should schedule more coffee and phone and skype dates with all of the wonderful teachers who I am lucky to know. It’s time to make time.]