Professional Development: Teacher Collaboration

By Justin Lim on January 4, 2010

At the start of every year I do my best to take a critical look at my past professional performance and consider how I can improve my skills as an educator. Last Friday, I was reminded of perhaps my greatest asset as a teacher. It's a practice that I was great at when I first began teaching, but have started to neglect after getting comfortable with my everyday routines. It's the one skill that can make up for the lack of ability in other areas. I'm talking about collaborating with our fellow teachers.

After reading my blogging-buddy Stacey's post about recognizing mentors a few months back, I knew that this was a topic that would definitely apply to us high school teachers. It's amazing how easy it is to feel isolated in our classrooms, despite the fact that so many of us teach the same kids and even the same classes as the veterans around us.

When I look back at my first year teaching, I'm still amazed at the amount of patience that my fellow teachers granted me. I can still here myself repeatedly asking, "Ok Ruby, so what do you when [fill in any and all teacher related topics here]?" Ruby Sare, one of my many mentors, happened to draw the unfortunate lot of teaching next door to me during my first year at RHS. I must have asked her hundreds of questions during the first week alone. Fortunately for me, she happens to be a wealth of information when it comes to connecting with troubled students. If not for Ruby, I think that I would have gone bald from stress.

As I began to grow more comfortable with the rest of the teaching staff, I came to realize that every teacher has a particular skill that I want to emulate. Karrie is great at implementing group work. Joe has a way of building up student writing. Brian and Eric are great at getting students to become independent thinkers. Diana is exceptional when it comes to creating detailed rubrics and assignments. The list goes on and on.

Ultimately, teaching is a profession that's part art and part science. There are certain practices and rules that we live by, but it's when we add our own flavor to the mix that we each begin to thrive. I'm always humbled when colleagues, whom I hold in the highest regard, compliment my teaching, because I know that in truth I simply copy what others are great at. Teaching is a skill that is so dynamic that it can always be improved. This year I hope to learn from two outstanding special educators, Tom and Veronica. I know that it's going to be another great learning experience for me.

Who do you plan to learn from? What skill-set do you want to improve? This year, I would like to encourage you to take advantage of your greatest asset, the teacher next door, and start out your 2010 with a passionate desire to grow!

Warm regards,

Justin Lim

Rosemead High School

El Monte Union High School District

Comments

This is such a nice post, having very worthy stuff for teachers.

PING: TITLE: Tightening Up Stratgeies for the New Year URL: http://blogs.scholastic.com/classroom_solutions/2010/01/tidying-up-for-the-new-year.html IP: 10.17.151.36 BLOG NAME: Classroom Solutions DATE: 01/07/2010 03:05:01 AM Now is a great time to inventory what's been working in your classroom. Remember that we each work differently and we each have our own style, so take the time to assess if things in your class has been working and make a fresh start of the new year!

Hi, Justin. I desire to explain concepts more visually, creating charts so my students have higher recall. I am also going to have them create charts of concepts they have learned. My fourth graders are also going to have an enrichment center as of next Monday with all kinds of task cards, a microscope, other hands-on materials, and games. Last, I desire to be even better than I am with technology; I uploaded podcasts, songs and photo slideshows to my five class iPods over break.

I guess I can say I have learned enthusiasm from my colleague Alice in third grade (who is now in music), precision from Jane, generating excitement from Brad, challenge from Barb, compassion from many of my colleagues who have always cared about me when I didn't realize it, and a plethora of amazing skills from my retired colleague Donna, who was my mentor in my first year of teaching. Donna lives on in me because I admired her for nearly everything in her classroom. We are always in the process of learning, and that makes us even stronger.

[Edit: Response]

Victoria,

"We are always in the process of learning, and that makes us even stronger."

I think that you summed it up quite nicely!

Warm regards,

Justin

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