Collaboration allows teachers to save time, prevents duplication and as O’Connell (2013) points out, leads to a wider learning environment, but there are even greater benefits to this practice than just what happens in the library.
I collaboratively teach in my TL role and have done so for a few years now. I attend Stage/Grade meetings and discuss with teachers what they would like to do in library time. Often I pick up part of a HSIE unit which is being taught, so for example, years 5 and 6 have recently completed a unit on ‘gold’,we collaboratively plan what this will look like in reality,so the gold component was done in library and the Eureka Stockade aspect was completed in classrooms. I lead the teaching process and am supported by the classroom teacher. After initial ‘grounding’ lessons on the topic to be taught, students work on research tasks, individually, in pairs or occasionally in small groups with both the class teacher and I assisting where needed. Classroom teachers tell me they often refer to lessons and skills which are addressed in library back in their classrooms, particularly when they are using ipads or the laptops for further research.
Last year, years 3 & 4 looked at the First Fleet and colonisation so I was invited on the excursion to The Rocks in Sydney. It was fantastic, the children see you as ‘a real teacher’ and so do the staff. There is no divide when you collaboratively teach, respect for each other as teachers in increased and my position in the school is very much valued, so much so that when the RFF timetable clashes with library time, classroom teachers scramble to change it so they can still attend library with their class.
Year 3 & 4 teachers and I also discovered that our students did not have a clue about their own country or using an Atlas, which led to jointly deciding on completing a term of atlas work and map reading, both digitally and physically. This would not have been the case if we were not collaboratively teaching.
My Principal is all for collaboration but if he leaves, I may one day find myself having to put forward a convicing argument for collaboration, so I would say this…As 21st century learners our students need to be independent thinkers, problem solvers and life long learners, but this does not happen without a great deal of input in the early years of school. Collaboration allows students to receive greater support in the use of ICT’s and guided inquiry approaches to learning and as my school is in a low socio-economic area extra support is needed in this pursuit. Many Principals want TL’s to be leaders and as education is in a time of rapid change, we are able to better share our expert knowledge of ICT’s, curriculum and current pedogogical trends by mentoring to inexperienced teachers and supporting seasoned teachers. Teaching can be a very isolating occupation, however,a school is a community, a microcosm of the world outside the school gates. Collaboartion leads to cooperation which leads to mutual respect which leads to shared vision which leads to enhanced student outcomes.