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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Reverse Psychology: Collaboration

Reverse psychology is one of the oldest and lamest tricks in the book. It’s where you tell somebody they are scared of something with the expectation that they will try and prove you wrong by doing it. Several times this week, when talking about collaboration, it’s been implied that teachers are scared of it. ‘It’s new, so teachers don’t like it’, and ‘teachers think it’s safer to rely on themselves’ have both been thrown out there.

I think collaboration is great. Teachers can often learn strategies and techniques from each other. Then, in the upper grades, students usually have multiple teachers and there we can learn from each other what is and what isn’t working with a particular student. These are strategies (and I am not sure the powers-that-be know it) that teachers have been employing for as long as there has been education; I am sure Plato ran some ideas past Socrates in his time.

For some reason, however, collaboration has recently become all the rage; it’s as if the powers-that-be in their far-off ivory towers discovered fire or peanut butter or something equally amazing - and this is part of the problem. Education will always needs tweaking and smoothing; unfortunately, the district has decided to hit education with a sledge hammer and then hit it again and again and they call the sledge hammer “Collaboration”.

In their effort to make sure I get enough time with my fellow teachers, I have been required to join a small learning community (SLC), a professional learning community (PLC), and a teaching team. Also, as an ESE teacher, I still have to meet with the ESE staff. That’s right, I am now part of four groups that will have four sets of meetings. It may be a while, but at some point down the road I am sure I will have to go to a meeting about meetings. Some teachers have it even worse, as they are in even more learning communities and in between all this collaboration we are supposed to do our planning and actually teach our classes - you know, the things that teachers are supposed to do.

They got it wrong; teachers aren’t afraid of collaboration, they just want to be able to get home while it's still light outside and they don't want to have to take a break from writing lesson plans or grading papers to be able to tuck their own children into bed.

I am going to try a little reverse psychology of my own: “Hey, powers-that-be; keep overwhelming teachers and putting them in positions where success is hard to achieve”. Yeah, that will lead to success. (I wonder if that will work)?

1 comment:

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