Teacher Collaboration is, without doubt, the solution to combating the difficulties and stresses of the teaching profession. Thanks to pressure from school, parents, and students, there’s plenty to juggle each and every day. And, if you don’t have a good support system, all of that juggling gets impossible to manage.
In the United States, more than half a million teachers (over 15%) leave their career during the school year. This statistic leads to another: Close to $2.2 billion is spent by public schools in America each year in order to cover the cost of teachers leaving and needing to find replacements. And while America leads the world in teacher attrition, teachers across the globe struggle with staying motivated.
Australia News reported January 2019 that, Australia is facing an education crisis as hordes of disillusioned and burnt-out teachers flee the profession, with potentially damaging ramifications for the whole country. It is estimated that 40 per cent of new teachers quit within five years of graduating. Plus veteran teachers are leaving the profession in frustration.
At ILTT, we help teachers to connect internationally. Putting the best educators from around the world in in touch with each other, to find solutions to issues in education. Whether you are new, or struggling to reignite your passion, or just want to share what’s going on. While it might not seem like a big deal, it is. The more that we have teacher collaboration, offering practical tips and emotional support, the better equipped we’ll all be. We all need support to handle the awesome responsibilities that come with being a teacher.
Are you are a teacher wanting to make a difference in the lives of other teachers? Here are eight things you can do to help:
As an experienced teacher, you’ve learned over the years how to deal with the stresses and responsibilities of the profession. New teachers, on the other hand, feel completely overwhelmed and at a loss for what to do. Unfortunately, new teachers and even some returning mature teachers want to look like they’re prepared and have everything under control.
Very few teachers will ever ask openly for help. That cries, I don’t know what I’m doing! Therefore, teacher collaboration is the best thing we can do to help each other. Whether it’s to offer some of your best teaching tools and tips – even if you weren’t asked. Do it gently though. Bombarding a new or returning teacher will only make matters worse. Try not to overwhelm the very person you want to help. From lesson plans and templates, to tricks for efficient copying and teaching strategies, will help. Every piece of advice you give helps a teacher create the toolbox they need to succeed.
Many teachers might feel too intimidated to ask for help from teachers at their own school. Therefore offering advice to teachers and reaching out in online discussions and forums is a great way to lend a helping hand. Teacher collaboration makes a world of difference – even if you’re a world apart.
Try popping in at your favourite teacher forum, like ILTT’s private social network (facebook style). Just pop on any forum, even once a week to see how you can help, will help! Answer a question, start a conversation, or comment to a post. The more active you can be, the more supported other teachers will feel.
For new teachers, schools can be as intimidating as they were when they were in middle school. While experienced teachers have found their circle of friends, new teachers often feel left out and isolated. Teachers, we can get cliquy and stick to our one comfortable group. Don’t be selfish, – share. One of the best things you can do to encourage teacher collaboration, is to keep your door open. Ask a new teacher to join you for lunch or invite them over to talk before or after school. Of course you are busy, we all are. Yet, even just giving five to ten minutes each day to connect with someone new can mean the difference between them staying with their career or quitting.
It’s easy for teachers to blame other teachers for how students are performing and behaving in the classroom. Unfortunately, this type of behaviour puts one teacher against another. This makes a school feel more like a competition and less like a community. As an experienced teacher, we can step up when we see this behaviour happening. Do your best to redirect conversations so that each teacher takes responsibility for what is happening in their classroom. This is one-way teachers can help each other and it’s the only way that teachers will start to feel comfortable enough to ask for help. Plus, it’s the only way that teachers will be able to start taking a constructive approach to making school a better place to be.
I always remember my favourite home economics teacher who taught from a wheelchair. Her best colleague and best friend died in a car accident while she was driving. Even though others might blame her, she continued teaching. She helped us students to learn to listen and talk to each other to find solutions to issues. I will always remember her creativity . . . . What’s your legacy? Her influence continues on in me . . .
For a lot of teachers, knowing that they’re not alone can make all the difference. That’s why writing honestly and openly about your experiences can be so important. Though, you might not have time to sit and talk for an hour, maybe you can make time once a month to sit and write down your thoughts. It’s just another way to create teacher collaboration. Find a teaching community that accepts guest blog writing or start your own blog! You can, for example, submit your writing to ILTT for publication. Here’s an example: Mid-year a new student joined my school. He walked into my class and said ‘Hi, my dad killed my mum’. Read more here . . . One little experience shared might just be all the support a teacher needs. The best part about that is you can do it in your own time and, once it’s published, not only do you receive credits at ILTT, your thoughts and advice are ready to be found by whoever needs them – forever.
As decisions get made at school, be vocal about how you feel, asserting what’s best for yourself as well as other teachers at your school. Even though that early morning meeting might feel difficult to get to, do your best to show up – your voice matters.
If you haven’t yet, do read about our ‘Love to Teach Foundation’. A substantial part of the ILTT revenue from your participation in buying and selling on ILTT goes to help teachers in need. There are even practical avenues for those who want to physically get involved in teacher collaboration internationally. Sharing their knowledge face to face with teachers in another continent. You don’t have to be a mature teacher to do this – we love teacher involvement from both newbies and the mature. We just ask that you be your best! Or as Matt Green of imanewteacher.com says ‘Exceptional teaching practices and an enthusiastic, supportive attitude can change students’ lives!’ That applies to us teachers too.
As a teacher, you hear a lot about what’s happening at school, directly from the students in your classroom. When you hear something good about another teacher, share the compliment! This type of awareness can help all teachers build confidence, and can let them know that you are on their team. Successful teacher collaboration won’t happen without this kind of trust. Don’t wait for others to do it first and say its not happening. Be active and create trust amongst your peers.
Whether a mature or newbie teacher, don’t be afraid to ask for help or to let other teachers at your school know how you’re feeling. Being honest is the best way to get the help you need. And, remember, the only way you can truly help the students in your classroom to the best of your ability is to make sure you’re getting the help you need. At the end of the day, the great way to keep moving forward is to be sure that teachers help teachers.